Learning from Arts: Using Abstract Painting to Discover New Understandings and Approaches That Are Relevant for Both Personal Development and Consulting Practice
In this chapter, I describe how art, dwelling and self-inquiry can enrich learning from within; how they can bring potential to life and how they can give insights as they extend epistemology beyond intellectual, textual knowing. As an autoethnographic researcher, I use personal experience, my artistic journey and paintings to illustrate these concepts. I furthermore describe how art has influenced my professional practice as a management consultant working with values and change. This type of research is dependent on the relational principles of connecting to our inner selves and to others. It was stimulated by my doctorate using Action Research and has benefited from the connections made during that process.
This inquiry took place in the context of undertaking a professional doctorate at Ashridge-Hult Business School. A significant contribution came from my colleagues at Ashridge, especially from my colleague Kathy Skerritt, for her insightful feedback and from my supervisor Margaret Gearty, whose guidance and feedback have been (trans)formative and for whose encouragement I am most grateful.
This chapter draws on my doctoral research (forthcoming), which is concerned with ontological learning, a concept which addresses learning as a sensuous, transformative process. Key underpinning theories to this work include aesthetics, arts-based learning, action research and feminism (growth-in-connection theory). My work draws on multiple methods, such as autoethnography, written inquiry and arts. As this could not all be explicitly discussed, for further reading, I refer to www.synnova.com.
- Bayles, D., & Orland, T. (1993). Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking. Santa Barbara: Capra Press.Google Scholar
- Etherington, K. (2004). Becoming a Reflexive Researcher: Using Our Selves in Research. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.Google Scholar
- Field, J. (1950). On Not Being Able to Paint. Los Angeles, CA: Heinemann Ltd.Google Scholar
- Heidegger, M. (1971). Building Dwelling Thinking. In A. Hofstadter (Trans.), Poetry, Language, Thought. New York: Harper Colophon Books.Google Scholar
- Jaffe, A. (1977). Jung, C.G. Beelden uit mijn leven [Jung, C.G. Images of My Life] (P. De Vries-Ek, Trans.). Nederland: Lemniscaat.Google Scholar
- Jordan, J. V., Kaplan A. G., Baker Miller, J., Stiver, I. P., & Surrey, J. L. (1991). Women’s growth in connection: Writings from the Stone Center. New York: The Guildford Press.Google Scholar
- Ladkin, D. (2014). Phenomenology. In D. Coghlan, & M. Brydon-Miller (Eds.), The Sage encyclopedia of action research, (pp. 613–614). London: Sage.Google Scholar
- Polyani, M. (1965). Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy (1st ed., 1958). London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
- Rothko, M. (2010). The Artist’s Reality: Philosophies of Art. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
- Tillich, P. (2000). The courage to be (2nd ed.). London: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
- Van Meer, P. (2016). Learning Through Artful Knowing. Action Learning: Research and Practice, 13(3), 1–15.Google Scholar