Finding The Way

Statements about the painting process of Joel Fletcher.

Ebb and Flow

Painting of beautiful woman wading in the ocean.
Ebb and Flow, 2019, 18" x 24", acrylic on canvas.

On casual observation, one sees the subject of this painting to be a beautiful woman wading on the ocean shoreline; however, there is much more to it! Viewing with careful scrutiny reveals a mystery hidden in plain sight. The true concept behind this artwork is the phenomenon known as Pareidolia - seeing familiar shapes in unexpected places where none actually exist.

Painting detail showing pareidolia creatures in sea foam.

The secret is found where the woman is looking. In the swirling sea foam one finds the silhouettes of various prehistoric sea creatures. I chose prehistoric animals to symbolize the ancient nature of the ocean. There are nine creatures including a turtle, several fish, and a plesiosaur. (Notice that I signed the painting in Pareidolia fashion as well, placing my initials in the left corner.)

Detail of Ebb and Flow painting by Joel Fletcher.

I was particularly concerned with portraying the churning and rapidly changing ocean water with conviction - a task impossible to achieve by using observation, memory, and imagination alone. Fortunately, I photographed a suitable ocean scene while exploring glamour photography back in the early 90s. My work served as a wonderful reference for portraying the woman and water in this piece. I painted a softer background, saving sharp focus for foreground main subjects in the way that the human eye would see them. It was important to me to bring an intense and vivid clarity to the closest elements. Detail was critical in order to accurately portray the Pareidolia effect! Painting water with such precision was laborious and time-consuming, yet inspiring at the same time. Going through the process gave me a greater understanding of the nature of water so it was well worth the trouble.

© 2022 Joel Fletcher

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