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Artists, Do You See Faces in Things Like These?

We all have this expertise. We crave familiarity as well as the bizarre, and at times we begin to see them! Our minds trick us but we could use this to our benefit.
This isn’t a new idea. Like you, I’m an artist. And also like you, I am always looking for my second thing and expecting to be first. Although not what we do can always be original, our visual perceptions are still our own and may be used to steer our way towards creativity.

A New Creative Momentum

Over the past few years, I have used the entire world around me and the phenomenon of pareidolia for a source of visual inspiration.
A mental phenomenon in which the brain responds to a stimulus, typically an image or a sound, by perceiving a familiar pattern where none is present.
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seeing faces in things1
I was raised in NYC, which is full of culture but can be overpowering and can easily distract you. Throughout the past couple of years I discovered nature (!) And I started going on long hikes.
Gigi Chen is a notable contemporary painter and one of our Artists Network TV artwork educators. Her latest educational video is Fresh Perspective on Drawing. Stream it now!
Looking, rather than viewing…
It’s a creative idea with entertaining exercises to get your imagination, creativity and artistic skills working together. Enjoy!
Seeking is a passive action. We seem and then walk off. However, as artists, we need to see. Seeing is being present and in the present time. Seeing gives you the chance to be an active player in the entire world around you. By seeing, you can react, either by simply taking your sketchbook or snapping a photo for future reference. Hopefully this talk of viewing faces in matters” or pareidolia will inspire you to notice more in your day to day and to take action.
Our buddy Wikipedia informs me this’seeing faces objects’ is known as pareidolia.
Basically it’s when you see dinosaurs chasing a pirate ship when you are gazing dreamily into the clouds.
As artists we are all searching for a fresh way to generate art. Seeking new perspectives and seeing the world in a different way permits us to create our art in new ways.
Like so many of you, I get into celebrity cubes and have trouble maintaining my creative endings. To break that cycle of art and then block, I try various approaches. But the best thing I have discovered is to change my spectacle.

Austin Healey, Wikipedia
So to keep tabs on things, I started taking photos because on hikes
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A New Way of Looking at the World

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I would rather keep walking and couldn’t always stop and bust my sketchbook. I also had to take some time to focus and I like to go-go-go when I am outside. Meaning, I’d look (not see) and I took photographs so as to study and see better later.

turtle pareidolia 2
urban pareidolia
pareidolia bear
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pareidolia platypus 2
…and everything I brought.

Wood Horse by Gigi Chen, drawing
What I drew…
Spending time out in the forests allowed me time and space to really observe. And I started to see things anywhere. One of my favorite activities when I go trekking is visiting faces and creatures in the bark of a tree. The phenomenon of pareidolia has been anywhere! And it began to change my work. I started integrating natural elements, textures and animals in my paintings and drawings.
turtle pareidolia
Like a bizarre scrunched-up recall face!
…and everything I drew.
Here are some examples of exactly what I saw when I was outside on my hikes as well as the pictures I took. Then below that is what I went into the studio and made with these pareidolia images in hand!

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23 pareidolia 1
What my attention watched…
pareidolia platypus
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Happy Being Somewhere by Gigi Chen, drawing
An Occasion by Gigi Chen, acrylic painting
Nature is wild and unpredictable. The leaves fall along with a branch can trip you up. Moss grows in unexpected places and generates tiny visible and invisible ecosystems. You look up into the sky to watch the trees sway and to smell the air… then it begins to rain. Ha!
Urban pareidolia! We’re aware of these little guys on city streets.
A platypus thing!
An angry-looking bird!
Poof! It is a turtle!
Artists, Do You See Faces in Things Like These?

Pareidolia before and following…

More Pareidolia-Inspired Artwork

The pic and what I saw…
…and what I created!
The pic and everything I saw…
The pic and everything I saw…

Spanish Moss by Gigi Chen, acrylic painting
So everything can be a source of visual inspiration. A bump on a tree may lead to new character designs for your sketch or painting or video game project. That drip in your window could result in your following surrealist masterpiece. You will never look at the world the same manner.
4. It may look however you would like. In any fashion.
They’d each have personalities. Maybe they were royal standpipes!
1. Turn the page and look at it from different angles.
Even if two people see exactly the exact same monkey” or bee” in a photograph, neither of you will see it the same fighter or parasitic, and neither of you may translate it the same way. There’ll be infinite types of monkeys! So let us be bizarre and free.
Gigi Chen
We can be super self conscious about producing things. For this, I would like you to bear this in mind: Everything you see is your own. And how you translate it is your own. That’s what makes this exercise exciting.

Pipes pareidolia - Gigi Chen
9. Adopt the feel of the existing picture. Or use the form as a guide.
2. Zoom in and out and flip it around.
5. It can be amorphous. Perhaps you like a specific form and you want to emphasize it.

Pareidolia Patterns

Standpipes and pet them just like they were little critters.

pipes pareidolia

8. As a friend or neighbor what they see. It can start an enjoyable conversation.

Tips and Strategies for Creating Pareidolia Work for You

More Thoughts by Gigi Chen, drawing
Eventually, I started designing patterns in the springs in my sheets. I designed a pattern that incorporated facial pictures right into the patterns. I would then incorporate them into my drawings. And finally, they’d make their way to paintings.

Gigi has additionally created resource manuals for Artists Network on how to draw a rose two manners.

Gigi Chen is a renowned modern painters working in New York City. She is one of the Artists Network TV artwork instructors. Stream it today!
6. It can be bizarre and a fantasy creature or object. It does not have to be something immediately recognizable. It just has to make sense to you.
3. 1 picture can have more than 1 pareidolia image.

Seeing More Things — An Exercise!

7. Consider using different mediums to interpret the image.
10. Or… crumple up what you are looking at (if it is a photograph on a piece of paper) and use that crumpled ball of paper because your pareidolia guide!

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