Now That You See It
Wave drawing © David Aughenbaugh, Peanuts characters © Charles M. Schulz
I made a drawing in charcoal of the famous wave scene by Hokusai. Everyone has seen some version of this image. As I was looking at my drawing, I saw something that made me laugh. All the little curly wave bits look like Charlie Brown's fingers!
Compare my drawing with the Peanuts characters. See it?
Now that I have seen this, I can't look at my drawing without seeing it. Everyone's brain wants to make sense out of what you are seeing, and as soon as you are given a suggestion, your brain fills in the blanks. You can't help it.
Have you ever been wine tasting? You know that experience of not quite being able to identify what you are tasting and then the sommelier gives you a word for it. "Yes, that's it!" "Raspberries!" or "Melon!". Once you have a word for it, you zero in on it with a "Yes!" It is very satisfying, and once you have identified it, you can't miss it.
I was at the opening of my photography show last week, and someone pointed out something in one of my images. "I see a horse head". Once they pointed it out, I could see it very clearly. Now that horse head is part of the image, forever. I can't ever un-see it.
That's not a bad thing. People find all kinds of things in my images, and I think that is part of why they like them. Just like the wine tasting moment, it is a satisfying experience. Now they have a connection to the image. They created something, and they feel a special kind of ownership.
It also deepens the image for me. I look at the image and I see the horse head, or the gnome face or whatever it is, and I think of the person who pointed it out.
I would call that a win-win.
David Aughenbaugh is an artist and photographer who splits his time between northern and southern California, with a month or two in Arizona when the lightning happens