Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Friday Rorschach: Stanley, The Cat

Portrait of Stanley, The Cat, 2013, tempera paint on paperboard

What it is: It is a cat. Specifically, it is a portrait of the family cat, Stanley. This is one of my daughter's paintings, and she was embarrassed by how it turned out, because she thought it looked like an owl. I, however, love its style. It is a very flat painting, and she mixed interesting colors. She also put a great deal of effort into Stanley's white fur, giving it great texture. She has a good sense of balance, which forces the viewer to look at the whole piece, not just the enormous white part of Stanley's body.

The real Stanley
The flatness of the painting (the lack of dimensionality) is what made me think this would be a good Friday Rorschach post. The background jumps into the foreground, and many of you incorporated it into your responses.

detail of Stanley's fur

What you thought it was: Most of you thought it was a bird of some sort:

A surprising number of you saw a chicken:

An even more surprising number of you saw this as a penguin:

Several of you saw this as a bird wearing clothes. On the Rorschach, this would be considered a troubling sign--when an animal is engaging in an activity that is impossible, it is usually a sign of psychosis or traumatic brain injury (Remember, don't diagnose yourself with anything based on what you saw in this picture. I saw a bird wearing a hat, and I am neither psychotic nor cognitively impaired, as far as I know):

One of the most common responses to this week's picture was negativity of emotion:

As always, there were the pop culture references:

A few of you saw something wrapped in a cocoon, as if for protection:

There was a lot of fire in this week's responses. In the Rorschach, fire responses are typically negative, as though the form is being destroyed. These responses, however, seem to be more of an indication that the black and orange paint in the lower right corner looks like a campfire:

There is always at least one Friday Rorschacher who uses the word obviously or clearly. As in, "it obviously looks like blah blah blah." On the Friday Rorschach, it is usedin a joking manner, because the Rorschacher's response is never very obvious.

On the real Rorschach, someone will make an obvious or clearly response every now and then, but he or she is usually not joking. And, the responses are never obvious or clear. They tend to be bizarre responses like, "It is obviously a penis with wings that has just exploded out of the window of Rapunzel's castle. Anyone could clearly see that."

A theme that crosses weeks in the Friday Rorschach is poop. People always see poop in these pictures:

And then there is this great psychology/owl joke (google John Bowlby for more information):

There is the reference to a swan, from a person with a swan for an avatar (what more could you expect?):

There is an Australian politician (I had to look this one up):

And, my personal favorite for the week:

What you might have missed: For me, the first image that popped into my head when I looked at this painting was an owl wearing a mortarboard. I mean, it was so obvious. Looking back on it, it might have been the 12 years I spent as a university professor...

Nevertheless, a few of you saw it too:

One last thought: Stanley is no longer with the Wachtel family. My wife and I had him before we had children. When our daughter was born, it turned out that she was horribly allergic to cats. I don't think she could breathe for the first three years of her life.

It was a tough decision, but we ended up giving Stanley away. My daughter almost immediately felt better (especially after a thorough house cleaning). But, the whole family missed the cat. So, we have the portrait of Stanley (the photo and now my daughter's painting) to remember him. And no one sneezes when we look at them.

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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