Shadow Pictures

Hidden faces, inkblot revelations.

light art water wave

We saw them everywhere: the dragonish clouds, the roaring vapors, the faces in the sky. We found them in tea leaves, in spilled milk, on the unsuspecting canvases of our grilled cheese. 

So much hides in an inkwell. We invited its contents out, dripping the unknown essences onto our waiting pages. We folded, pressed, and looked, and there they were, looking back. It comforted us somehow, to contain them, this bestiary of the invisible, the known unknowns.


Inspired by the blotograms of Justinus Kerner (1786-1862), made “decades before the Rorschach test laid claim to this form” as well as John Prosper Carmel’s “Bottentots and How to Make Them” (1907)––both of which are described in this article on inkblot books. And, of course, by the cloud-faces.

Author: Stacey C. Johnson

I keep watch and listen, mostly in dark places.

4 thoughts on “Shadow Pictures”

  1. In the days when I could get down to the ground (or, more importantly, get back up again!) I would lie on my back on the grass and watch the clouds go by while seeing faces and patterns in them. I miss doing that. My Mum used to show us her tea leaves, and we used to take turns guessing and describing what we could see in them (not fortune telling but from an art perspective). I love the symmetry made by ink blots on pages too. As children, we were encouraged to paint colours and shapes on one side of a piece of paper, fold it in half and we’d stare in wonder at the pattern of its shadow, just as you describe. X

    1. I love this, Ellie, especially the idea of you interpreting tea leaves from an art perspective!

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