Friday, February 22, 2019

Seeing Faces in the Trees.

As I sit here staring out my window at the cedar trees, I don’t just see green fir boughs. I see faces. Sometimes, there are wise, thoughtful faces and other times smiling, silly faces. I see cute dogs and cats, sometimes bears, foxes and crows, too. (I outlined a few in the photo above. )

Do I see these because I’m an artist? Is it the gift of an active imagination? Or am I crazy?

Believe or not, this ability is called Pareidolia. It’s the ability to see faces in unusual places. Examples of this ability abound all across the globe including, the Shroud of Turin,  the face on Mars from Viking 1 mission, Mother Teresa on a cinnamon bun in Tennessee. 

I am not alone. 

Many people have pareidolia. Carl Sagan wrote that the ability is tied to survival and the need to recognize human faces in difficult conditions. Leonardo de Vinci noted the ability to see a scene in spots on a wall as an artistic ability. Some artists use Pareidolia as a creative device in their work. 

Even psychologists use it in Rorschach tests, asking patients what they see in the indiscriminate ink blots, as a way to test their state of mind. (Here’s my Rorschach test: find the elephant in the photo below. Hint: right lower quadrant)

Does this make me special? No, not really. 

At first, I figured everyone could see it too. And when I pointed it out and they didn’t, I figured they just weren’t looking hard enough. Science bears me out on this, as 65% of us have this ability. 

Has it influenced my art and writing. Most definitely. Many of my early sculptural pieces were all about stories of animals, people and the magic of the natural world that surrounds us all. My fascination with creating masks is influenced by pareidolia. I’d say my functional ceramics are a departure into the normal world but then, I see how the patterns and shapes mimic tree leaves, clouds and, yes, faces are imprinted on some pieces, too. 

As a kid, I thought I was odd because family and friends didn’t see these faces around them.  But I also remember feeling comforted staring up at the clouds or into the trees. I loved sitting in stillness and quiet and peace. 

I still do. It’s my little corner of beauty and I don’t have to go anywhere special to find it. All I have to do is stare out my window. Any day. Any time. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Snow, a Puppy and a Tea Party

I haven’t written here in two weeks. I’ve been happily busy in the studio, yes. I’ve been waiting for snow, yeah! But I’ve also been dealing with my feelings about life in our part of the globe. 

I know the State of the Union address by our current White House resident put me in a real funk. I could go on and on about how this person has put all of us in jeopardy all to feed his gigantic ego. But I won’t. Because the facts are clear enough. 

What I want to see clearly now and what I think we all need to see is some wonder and love. 


In my part of the country, snow doesn’t happen very often. When it does, I think it’s something to celebrate. I stomp through it with big fluffy boots. Marvel at the delicate white flakes. 

I just love snow. I love how it twinkles on the tree limbs. 

Decorates my sculptures. 

Frosts the lake. 

And makes playing ball with my puppy even more fun.

Snow puppy. 

Darby, my sweet ‘pup’, comes from a place with more sun than snow. When we opened the door for him that morning, he wasn’t so sure what to do. There was no green grass. Where did it go? And the bigger question: where was he supposed to ‘go’? 

After he figured that out, we took him for his walk and he got his ‘snow’ legs. 

I don’t know if he thought snow was wonderful, but to me, it’s a special kind of wonderful to play ball with him in the snow for the first time. 

Princess Tea Party. 

My granddaughter loves to play in her kitchen, build block towers, read books and coloring in my studio. But lately, her favorite thing to do is playing dress up in her princess dress and tiara. One week, we had a picnic on the kitchen floor. 

This week, she wanted to have a tea party. Of course, I said yes, your princess. 

We baked blueberry muffins. Brought a table from upstairs, downstairs and covered it with an elegant white lace table cloth. (We put a ‘special’ rug down for the occasion and for easier cleanup.) And she got all dressed up in her Princess Sophia dress and tiara. 

The muffins were served warm from the oven accompanied by Mango Tea (juice). 

Everyone had a wonderful time, loved the homemade muffins and the ‘Princess’ declared the event a success.  

I hope I’ve succeeded too, bringing you a little wonder and love to lighten your life, like it did mine.