A friend of mine loves to find imagery in other things – in clouds, in marks on the footpath, in people’s artwork. This is something I resist – I can cope with seeing a bird in the clouds, or a face, but I generally actively avoid it, especially in artwork. I prefer to find more intangible sensations, a feeling or impression, an emotion, rather than an object. So I have been trying to work out why I feel such resistance, when so many people love to do it. The answer seems to be that to me an unintended object is an intrusion – if the painting is a still life, to find an old man with one long leg and a feather on his head somewhere within in it, the feeling is of a painting spoilt rather than enhanced, and forever after I will only see that old man. Today I did an experiment and looked at some of my own paintings, deliberately looking for other objects, and to my horror I could see faces in nearly all my flowers. I had to stop! So, when my friend (who is an inspiring artist and teacher, I have received endless invaluable support and encouragement from her over many years) gave me a stick to draw because she could see a dragon in it from one side and a rhinoceros from another, I was a little dubious. But I loved all the nobbles and cracks and the interesting texture of the surface, so accepted the challenge. And here it is – it doesn’t really look like a stick any more (I have to exaggerate forms that appear), but nor is it a dragon or rhino. I can see distinct animal forms, which I thought were obvious, but the people I have shown it to have found eyes and legs in places that I didn’t know were there! So, one thing I have learned from this – nearly everyone will find creatures in a stick, but they are all different ones.
(It is drawn with several grades of pencil, on hot pressed paper, 30 x 42 cm)