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Pareidolia 1: Fantastic Dreamscape Featuring “Good” and “Evil,” and Scenes from the Natural World

This painting represents another of my experiments in image-finding. The process begins with the creation of a purely abstract composition, with no specific objective in mind, save for the generation of an aesthetically pleasing surface with interesting color relationships, movement, depth of space, and the suggestion of form(s).

Once I’m satisfied that I’ve created a well-balanced abstract composition that succeeds on its own merits, I begin looking for images in the chaos. I orient the canvas first one way, then another, evaluating which orientation is the strongest from a design standpoint and determining which orientation yields the most potential in terms of image-finding and a coherent theme.

Having made such determinations, I begin teasing out the images. In the case of this painting and several others from this period, I did so with felt-tip ink pens and highlighters.

Like a Rorschach ink-blot test, the images that suggest themselves to me through this process are revealing of my subconscious/conscious fascinations: fantasy images, organic forms (especially animals), and dramatic contrasts incorporating natural settings (mountains, skies, lakes, greenery, and underwater currents from the perspective of the submerged).

Once I’ve sketched out the images that will populate my final composition, I return to my acrylic paints and render the final forms. Some images are merely suggested, apparitions, while others are more fully realized. My process is very meticulous and deliberative. I often set aside my paintings-in-progress for days, weeks, or months, evaluating whether I’ve brought the composition to a satisfying conclusion or simply halted because I was afraid to ruin the piece.

Pareidolia 1: Fantastic Dreamscape… represents one of the more successful experiments in this series, in my estimation. In any case, I don’t know what more I can do to take it any further. To me, it feels resolved.

Its images include: a towering indigo “mountain” embedded with an alien, cyclopean eye (possibly connected to massive, writhing, blue tentacles); a huge, luminous moon disappearing behind the mountain; a three-headed demon; a two-headed unicorn; red-rock mountains surrounding a cerulean blue lake (right out of the American Southwest); a medieval peasant at work; an impudent, grinning duck; a fearsome dragon with bloodshot eyes; an eyeless wretch from the bowels of Tartarus; a fading polar bear; a mellow, bearded academic, reclining; an astonished pig with a halo; a massive grey rock; a swooping, alien bat-creature; a gigantic, pig-snouted demon holding one of Bosch’s tormented souls under its tongue (and wearing a fuzzy, orange swine stole); a smiling, anthropomorphized pig; a skeleton-warrior wearing a fuzzy hat; a rifle-bearing hunter taking aim at the benevolent spirit of the north; and a “luck dragon.”

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