Friday, March 21, 2014

The Friday Rorschach: The Death Of Winter

The Death of Winter, 2013, watercolor on paper

I thought this would be a good painting to use for this week's Friday Rorschach. To me, I see it as a celebration of the last week of winter. In many ways this has been a great winter for me and my family. The Colorado mountains have had a ton of snow, skiing/snowboarding has been great (despite my broken collarbone), and we don't have to worry about a drought in this part of the country this summer.

For the rest of you, I have two words of sympathy: Polar Vortex.

What it is: This is one of my son's paintings. Obviously, it is a snowman. But, it is a fairly disturbing one, don't you think? What you can't tell from the photograph is that it is huge. He found the world's largest piece of paper and created this snowman. He painted it around Christmas, and he insisted that we hang it up. I still have nightmares sometimes.

My son was very clear that this snowman was not sinister and was not harmed in any way. All of the red splotches are supposed to be decorations, despite the fact that it looks like he was hit with a machine gun. He considered it to be a sweet, innocent picture of a happy snowman.

This painting has a strong form demand, and most of you saw it as a snowman of one sort or another. What interested me most about the painting was the obvious (and unconscious) violence and aggression.

In Rorschach terms, this would be described as a "morbid" painting--one that depicts a form that has been ruined or mutilated in some manner. When people see morbid images on the Rorschach, it can be indicative of depression or feelings of failure and low self-worth. Interestingly, kids see more morbid content in the Rorschach than adults do.

In the case of The Death Of Winter, I fully expected morbid responses from everyone, regardless of a person's level of depression or self-worth.

What you thought it was: You did not disappoint this week. Most of your responses fell into one of two morbid categories.

The first common category was snowman who has been harmed in some way:

The second common category was snowman who harms in some way:

Regardless, several of you were immediately and viscerally disturbed by the image:

At least one of you expressed concern for the wellbeing of my family (which I appreciate...we keep knives away from our son):

What I found interesting is that several of you decided to overlook the overtly morbid content (on the Rorschach, this might be interpreted as problematic, as though you avoid the obvious negative aspects of life. In my mind, though, I think you were trying to see the good in the world, which I think is good):

A few of you had hybrid responses, depicting a happy snowman where something only mildly bad has happened:

Many of you saw this as a paintball incident (is this because of the splatter of the paint, or is it because you can't take the idea of Frosty being mortally wounded?):

A few of you saw snow-women, not snowmen:

As always, there were the awesomely nerdy responses:

There were those of you who are totally sick of winter:

And my personal favorite (because I imagine this was probably the worst prom since Carrie):

What you might have missed: Only one person incorporated the red line in the top left portion of the painting. To me, it looks like a paintbrush. But, what could the paintbrush possibly mean?

Enlarged version of the
paintbrush in the top left

One last thought: One Friday Rorschacher came up with an interesting theory about the paintbrush. She thought it represented the idea that this was not really a snowman. Instead, it is an abstraction of a bloody snowman. Maybe a nightmare? Maybe a child's fear that paradise many someday be lost? Or the premonition of the loss of innocence--an unconscious knowledge of the harshness of the world that is to come?

Thanks for reading-- Max Wachtel, Ph.D.

Friday Rorschach is a fun project designed to engage readers' creativity. To participate, follow Max on twitter. He posts the drawing every Friday morning around 10am ET/8am MT. There are no wrong answers to the Friday Rorschach.


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I always waiting for the Friday Rorschach post which I loved the most from all the other posts. And you are right, it would be the good painting to use for this week's Friday Rorschach which is one made by your son: Polar Vortex. And I really appreciates you that you are giving enough space and opportunity to your kids to portray his words on papers. Busy by profession as an academic writer and provider of assignment help to those students who need help with my coursework from the academic writer at Quality Assignment, I could not spend much time with my kids but Now I would love to spend enough time them and explore their hidden talent.

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