A career fueled by intuition

Alumnus Tim McFarlane, who graduated in 1994, works in Philly as a painter.

Tim McFarlane is currently working on monochromatic pieces of black, white and silver. Jenny Kerrigan | TTN
Tim McFarlane is currently working on monochromatic pieces of black, white and silver. Jenny Kerrigan | TTN

Behind a green door, north of Market Street, a narrow hallway and four flights of stairs led to a studio.

Standing at the bottom, the sound of NPR radio was distinct. The last door on the left opened to reveal a large room, lit by two giant windows that overlook Old City. There, in the center, covered head to toe in paint is artist and Temple graduate Tim McFarlane.

McFarlane said he has wanted to be an artist ever since he discovered impressionism in high school. In 1984, he applied to Temple but was discouraged to attend art school by his high school art teacher, who thought he should pursue a more substantial career instead.

“At first I applied to the school of Radio, Television and Film and it wasn’t that interesting so I decided to try Business and that really sucked,” McFarlane said laughing. “Art was the only thing I really loved enough to continue in school.”

McFarlane took a five-year hiatus, but eventually returned to Temple as a part-time student. He graduated in 1994. Tyler was not yet on Main Campus, so McFarlane studied in the College of Arts and Sciences, which housed a broad spectrum of majors. This was a unique aspect of the program, which McFarlane said he felt he wouldn’t have experienced in Tyler.

“It was interesting seeing what kind of solutions they came up with opposed to us as actual art majors,” McFarlane said. “Art is about solutions. It’s about problem solving.”

While in college, McFarlane focused on oil paintings and working with soft pastels. He began experimenting with all sorts of mediums and designs until he found his favorite: acrylic paints.

“I tend to lay down a layer and react to that,” McFarlane said. “My work is very intuitive.”

This layering technique has to do with more than just aesthetic. McFarlane said this style allows his audience to “sort of look back in time to see where the piece began.”

McFarlane said his pieces are never conclusive in terms of a message.

“What I do, there’s no goal,” McFarlane said. “Each piece I make becomes a question I put on another piece.”

McFarlane is constantly working on multiple projects.

“All these ideas are jumping back and forth between pieces and if something isn’t working for me, I can put it away and move on to another piece.”

McFarlane’s work is currently on display at the Four Seasons Hotel in Philly and at a gallery called Gray Contemporary in Houston.  He is currently working on monochromatic – black, white and silver –pieces, which he plans on turning into larger works. McFarlane ultimately hopes to have his work curated in a museum show.

 “It’s mainly a love of making something,” he said. “It’s hard to say, but part of it is being a part of this wider conversation about being human and making something that says, ‘I was here.’”

Jenny Kerrigan can be reached at  jenny.kerrigan@temple.edu

*Editors note: Changes to this article were made on Dec. 4. McFarlane’s work is not on display at the Bridgette Mayer Gallery. However, his work is represented by the gallery. His current show is in the Fountain Restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel in Philadelphia.

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