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Can you see the face in this tree?

How about the faces in these paintings I created?

Just Beyond


Old Ones, Wise Ones II


I am an art teacher as well as an artist. A recent occurrence in my children’s art class led me back to ponder the term pareidolia. I had made copies of my personal collection of “face tree” images for the children to use as landscape composition subjects. All of the kids in the class could see the face images. They had fun with the subject, even as I reinforced the step by step process of working from background to middle and foreground.

Very interesting to me was that when their parents arrived to take the children home, I realized upon sharing the images with the adults that most of them did not “see” the “faces” in my photographs.


Pareidolia is  “the imagined perception of a pattern or meaning where it does not actually exist”, according to the World English Dictionary. Seeing faces, animals, recognizable objects in clouds, trees, wallpaper patterns, a pile of clothing. The theory goes that as infants we gravitate toward the human face. The basic arrangement of features gets hard-wired into our brain’s processing center, and we then take that into adulthood. We see the facial features where they are not- to try to make order of the random.

I wonder though why some of us see such images everywhere, and some not at all? Do you see the faces in the following images from my tree collection?

tree2 tree3 tree4

I sure do!

Here’s a painting I had completed of a sycamore tree- probably the tree I love the most for its beautiful bark and majestic form.


As I painted the tree, images popped out all over the bark for me, so I enhanced them to make them easier to see.

s5 s6 s4 s1

I do have fun with my art, as well as the sometimes strange way I perceive the world. How about you? Do you have “pareidolia”? I’d like to hear about what you think and experience about this visual phenomenon.

Have a fine day!