PAREIDOLIA

One of my favorite things to do on a warm, breezy summer day, is lie down in the grass and watch clouds pass overhead. I watch for those that remind me of animals. Sometimes a turtle, an elephant, or dragon. They change quickly as they move across the sky and it’s interesting how the things I see dissolve into something else or nothing at all.

I’m not alone in being a person who sees images and especially faces in inanimate objects. There are many of us  and it’s called Pareidolia. This capability has been with me since I was a child. My mother also saw these images and I suppose it could be that I learned it from her or it might have been passed down to me genetically. A new study in Japan found that those you see faces like the ones I see in the photo above are neurotic.

What? Me neurotic? Well, maybe. Aren’t most of us? If you look up the definition of neurosis you’ll find that it’s defined as “a relatively mild mental illness that is not caused by organic disease, involving symptoms of stress (depression, anxiety, obsessive behavior, hypochondria) but not a radical loss of touch with reality.” So maybe it’s true that I am neurotic. I have been diagnosed with PTSD, after all. But thankfully I’m in recovery. I’ve slowed my pace and do a lot of self-care … taking naps, meditating, writing, walking, gardening, reading, and listening to music. My stress levels have greatly diminished and I’m feeling like a new woman.

Do you see the rabbit in this one?

But thankfully those creatures and faces I see in the tiles on my shower wall are still with me. I think of them as my “shower friends” and have always enjoyed seeing them. They remind me of cartoon characters and I see them as happy and funny.

I’ve always attributed this ability of mine to my creative bent and what helps to make me an artist. I’m a very visual person. Give me written directions on how to do something, and it will take me forever to figure it out. Show me how to do something, and I’m there with you, ready to go. That’s how I learned to knit, weave, spin sheep’s wool into yarn, paint, and cook delicious food, among other things.

So, neurotic or not, I’m glad for whatever causes me to be able to do this. How about you? Do you see faces or animals in inanimate objects? What do you see in photographs of the tiles I’ve included here?

Taking A Break With Rodin

IMG_0081Up to our armpits in work, and always catching up on one thing or another, we decided to get out of here for the day last Saturday. Due to Bill’s recovery from knee surgery and the preceding months of pain and staying put, we haven’t been anywhere that takes being on our feet for a long time. Now that spring is on it’s way and Bill is feeling good we decided to take ourselves on a little adventure.

Our destination was Richmond, only an hour away. With the end of the Rodin IMG_0112exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, in just a week, we decided to make a day of it and included time for a luscious lunch with a friend we haven’t seen in a couple of years. I was excited days ahead of time, eager to let everything I had to do go, breaking the ties that bind me to my desk.

I’m a home body at heart and have gotten more so over the past few years. But after a year of being tied down I’m ready to travel. Bill will be going on one of his greatly missed theatre binges later this month to New York City, where he’ll get to see seven on and Off-Broadways shows in four short days and nights. Don’t ask. I don’t know how he does it. I can’t take sitting in the dark for that long.

I’ll stay put until May and then head off to Chicago for Book Expo America, an event I promised myself I’d neverIMG_0115 attend. But it’s about getting used to the fact that I have a book coming out in September and learning how the world of publishing works. I’ll get to meet the team of great women at She Writes Press who are my partners in getting my book out, and other SWP authors whose books will also be released in the fall. I’ve heard that Book Expo is a real zoo with crowds belly-button to belly-button. But hey, you only get to live once. So why not. I’ll be taking a gallon of Rescue Remedy with me to soothe my anxiety in big crowds and plan on spending only a few hours at a time, navigating the sea of publishers, authors, and other publishing resources. I also plan on visiting with friends I haven’t seen in way too many years and take in some exhibits at The Art Institute of Chicago to muster up inspiration for my next visual art masterpieces :-)! And we’re planning more travel/vacation time during the summer.

IMG_0110 (1)But back to the Rodin exhibit. We are so lucky to have a museum that brings in exhibitions of this caliber so close to home. Though I’ve been really busy and thought I didn’t have time to see it, I’m so glad I took the time. I learned so much about Rodin, including the fact that he never got to see any of his sculptures cast in bronze. That didn’t happen until after he died. I also didn’t realize that he had a kind of factory going on with 50 studio assistants who did a lot of the work. His sculptures of feet and hands are amazing. There is such detail in the musculature of every body part he worked on. The attached photos don’t really do the work justice but they can give you an idea of what I mean.IMG_0119

When was the last time you got out of town for a day and away from what takes up all of your time? What did you do and what did you learn?

Life AS A Work Of Art

“…. when I accept the call of creative passion, I am a bold stroke of vermillion, a renegade hyperbole, or the wild fury of jazz violin. The world is a canvas to explore, a blank page to fill, and an arpeggio of waiting experiences. This moving masterpiece called “life” becomes intoxicating when it’s lived as if it were art.”
Jill Badonsky

IMG_0118Outside the rain is steady and cold … It’s the second day of what is predicted to be a three day rain event. Thank goodness I don’t live in the midwest where this storm is producing snow and ice. But still all I want to do is crawl back into bed and sleep the grayness away.

Christmas is upon us. People are rushing about on the streets and nearly causing accidents. My Scroogy self is anxious for it all to be over. Her arrival comes earlier and earlier every year. I swear the city put up their usual snowflake lights on every light pole in town two days after Halloween. Christmas carols were heard playing in several grocery stores before Thanksgiving was done. What the holidays are supposed be about are love, gratefulness, and the birth of one of the world’s greatest teachers. What was once a spiritual celebration now seems to be all about things and money.

But amidst the long list of unread emails is a blog post I read and am always inspired by. Jill Badonsky, isDSC00444 a wonderful artist. She’s also a coach for those looking to live a creative life. I don’t know anything about her coaching style but she wrote the quote above and I’m more than certain that she’d be a fabulous person to hook up with to get unstuck.

Reading that line on her blog got to me immediately. Suddenly there I was remembering that I am an artist and writer myself. I have no business being a badass at this time of year. Life is a work of art and by golly I need to add some color to the dull and lifeless mood I’ve been creating in my head for a few weeks now.

As a starter, I’ll haul out my paints and throw some onto a piece of paper or canvas and see what happens. I’ll stop complaining about the state of the world, and sign up to support another group, who like me wants the violence to stop. I’ll bundle up and go walk in the rain, admire the red leaves still hanging on to the Japanese Maple in my garden, and enjoy the antics of a group of robins splashing about in puddles, grateful for not only a long drink of water, but a bath as well.

Encaustic painting, 6 1/4" x 7 1/2", September, 2012

Encaustic painting, 6 1/4″ x 7 1/2″, September, 2012

I’ve always truly believed that life is a work of art; that you can add a dab a bit of color here or there and come up with something much more balanced than the dark days I’ve been messing with.

If we want to change the course of the world or the way the holidays are, we can set an example and provide laughter and joy to each day instead of more darkness. When we turn on those happy holiday lights we dress our homes in, we bring light to world. It’s the same when we create a magnificent painting or write a beautiful poem.

Do you, like me, believe that life is a work of art?

Read the whole of Jill’s blog post here.