Sunday, August 2, 2009

My Rorschach Technique For Making Pictures

Artists use a variety of media and techniques to make pictures. Most probably have something in mind ahead of time. For example, Dave plans to paint a cow. He studies pictures of cows or the cows themselves, does preliminary drawings and then takes this groundwork and defines on the canvas the image in his minds eye. Pedro, less a realist, might just paint a cow from the internal memory he has from observing cows while visiting his grandmother.

I sometimes make pictures in this manner, using observation first and giving definition second, knowing from the start precisely where I intend to go.

There is another approach to making pictures, though, that I especially enjoy. This morning I decided to call it the Rorschach Technique.

Hermann Rorschach, if you may recall, is the Swiss psychologist who developed the Rorschach Test more famously known as the Inkblot Test. Rorschach was fascinated by inkblot designs while growing up. The development of inkblots into an analysis tool was probably a natural progression for him.

The Rorschach approach is to use the designs to trigger perceptions, to identify personality characteristics in patients. Attempts were made by Rorschach and followers to make the results as scientific as possible. The resulting debates on the validity of these tests as an analysis tool have been with us to this day so that even on Wikipedia their reliability is challenged.

Well, my reference to the inkblot technique is only to suggest that one of my favorite methods of making pictures is to put abstract brush strokes of color onto a surface, then afterwards to see what it looks like. With a few lines, I extract the more defined image which I originally saw in my mind's eye.

Sometimes I like to leave the abstract in an ambiguous form, and other times I highlight and model the shapes to leave little to the viewer's imagination. The picture at the top of this page is titled Man Wrestling With Himself, a strong example of this Rorschach technique. I have been practicing variations of this since last winter using different colors of ink for backgrounds. Lately I have enjoyed the effects created by more muted colors. In this instance a brownish wash was used liberally on the paper. It is almost as if the man wrestling with himself leaped off the page. It was so vivid. Essentially all I did was take pen and ink to outline his form.

Great art? Possibly not, unless by some fluke some important New York art critic tells you otherwise. But it does produce interesting images and, as they say, every picture tells a story.

EDNOTE: Most of the paintings and illustrations on my blog are available for sale. If you see something here that makes you say, "I gotta have it," be sure to let me know and we can negotiate a price. Feel free to click on images to enlarge.


Sandra said...

Hi Ed,

I see a chicken when I look at it!

ENNYMAN said...

An interesting comment...
and observation.

Thanks for dropping by.