PARALLEL PROJECT: Exploring the process of ABSTRACTION

“Art is about exploration and asking questions, not about supplying answers.” Post 1

This is how the project began and even though the investigation has centred around the process of abstracting ideas, this initial idea has remained a fundamental theme throughout. “Exploration” and “asking questions”! The sketchbook work and the creation of the ‘Diary without words’ has underpinned much of the investigation into abstraction and I can look back on the months when this exploration was happening to acknowledge the development which was taking place during that time.

The exploration over a period of several months opened up a new way of working for me. I had never seriously worked with abstraction before even though it had always held a fascination. The daily working to find new ways of expression through line and shape in order to find visual imagery for my thoughts and emotions was a release. I discovered that the process of drawing is something that can happen outside of self. I consistently found the page covered in lines and images which I had no part in consciously constructing. I experienced the freedom of ‘letting’ go and allowing the pencil to dictate. This exploration was about far more than just filling the diary. It gave me confidence to realize the personal authenticity of my own marks and as my ‘vocabulary of marks’ increased , so did my confidence. Every day was about ‘asking questions’. The influence of artists such as Christine Hiebert and Tara Geer was important during this time as well as many I had researched during the course. I find now, looking at the two books, that I’ve accumulated a rich resource of ideas that I will develop in the future.

Resolved images

Because the exploration into ‘abstraction’ was becoming so dominant in my thought during the last stages, I found that my thought and ways of seeing were effected. In Part 5, each of the projects finished with me abstracting the images in some way and so the course work and the project work began to morph together. Even in the first project when I went to the V&A Museum in London to draw, I came away with abstract concepts which subsequently became the overriding theme of all of the work for the section – finding visual representation for the movement of thought.

With the completion of Part 5, I have worked on further images for the parallel project. I reviewed the work in the sketchbook and the images in the daily diary before starting and also spent some time revisiting the websites of Tara Geer and Christine Hiebert. I was still working with the theme of ‘Lines of Thought’.

The first piece is the result of the process of gathering together all of the elements of an experience of walking amongst yellow tulips with the family. As in my other work it was a layering process of working on the surface with lines, erasing, then working further with more lines, textures and colours, then erasing, then more lines. I find that this process allows me to continually bring to the surface the many elements of the experience. This then goes far beyond simply drawing a bed of tulips but allows the full creative expression of a lived experience.

The first studies began in the Diary…

I then went on to work with these ideas into a final image, exploring with line, continually asking questions…

Colour was then added, still allowing the whole experience to show itself…

Then the final image…

My second and third pieces begin to explore ‘lines’ of thought. I am trying here to understand what happens in the creative process of bringing ideas to the surface. I am exploring the directional thrust of an idea and how this breaks up and becomes something else – the clarity of the idea is lost or becomes less visible.

The final image is exploring the fragmentary nature of ideas. In this piece I tore up strips and pieces of tissue paper and let them simply drop onto surface covered in glue. I pressed these random shapes onto the paper wherever they fell. When the paper was dry I then sandered the surface down to create a smooth surface. Some of the tissue paper was lost in this step but it left behind random shapes of a lost image. I had briefly explored the shapes left after the original had been torn away in the sketchbook. I then worked with pencil and charcoal to create new lines of thought.

Sections of the image-

I could simply keep going with these continually emerging ideas but I think that this first step in this project of exploring the process of abstraction needs to finish for the moment. The most important element which has come out of these last pieces for me has been the importance of the preliminary exploration. I spent so much time exploring, questioning, that by the time I got to creating some final images, they just flowed onto the paper. All the confidence in my own mark making which had been building up during the preceding months, came together and there was absolutely no hesitation in the images which emerged.


About pbfarrar

I am an Australian living permanently in England. I have recently retired from the position of Principal of an independent school and have taken up the study of Fine Art with the OCA.
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