Art & Design

The Art Of Ink Blotting & Showing Emotion

What is "inkblotting" and how can colors be portrayed in emotion? Read more to find out.
Featured here is Rorschach Test Ink Blot

What is the art of “Inkblots” and how can colors be portrayed in emotion? For my Color Theory class, as a project we were given a project to create color pallets to correspond with human emotions. Through this we created different ink blots and in the process portrayed various different colors within the ink blots to showcase emotions such as anxiety, stress, happiness, and compassion. I know sounds super artsy doesn’t it? You know normally these types of projects would really confuse me but oddly enough, I actually found myself very invested in this project. A basic definition of the Rorschach Ink Blot test can be defined as an attempt to gain inside into an individual’s mental state with the blots being designed with any specific image, leaving the interpretation up to the individual being evaluated. I’m going to do my best to explain the history of inkblots and how it applies to us today.

The Rorschach Inkblot Test

The concept of ink blots is known as the “Rorschach Test” and was first introduced in the 1920s by Hermann Rorschach. However the concept of ink blots actually go way back to Leonardo Da Vinci and Botticelli. It’s worth pointing out that Rorschach was the first to pursue a systematic approach to the art of ink blotting. Another fun fact is that Rorschach actually hand drew his own ink blots. The concept of Rorschach’s approach to psychology is an interesting one. The technical definition is a little difficult to comprehend unless your a major in psychology. The main purpose of these ink blots is to analyze psychological interpretation, complex algorithms, and sometimes both things just mentioned. Psychologists might use this method to examine how a individual is functioning as well as their characteristics. This technique surprisingly seems to still be in use although there’s some people who question it’s credibility with some critics claiming it lacks reliability.

What Is Pariedolia?

See the face?

Pariedolia (par-i-DOH-lee-a) is a psychological term that causes people to see a vague or random image and turn it into something significant. People might see a face or human characteristics to these very vague and random images. The phenomenon that is Pariedolia can be used outside of ink blots, as people can see shapes and objects within various situations around us. A good example of this can be seeing a pattern on a tree leaf or the most common example of seeing various shapes in clouds. This term applies to various other things around us and surprisingly is not limited to the interpretation of ink blots.

Inkblots Popular Responses & Interpretations

One of the most interesting things about inkblots is the pariedolia affect that it has to it. The picture above is known as Card X and it’s one of the more colorful inkblots. Normally inkblots were just standard black ink but there are some out there that do have color in it. What’s interesting is how do the colors being added in, change the way we view the inkblot itself? I felt with the colors, I see a happier and more upbeat shape. Some of the popular responses for shape for this card in particular include a crab, lobster, spider, and snakes. The color being added in can also effect our mood as we might have a more positive response. That element depends on the individual. This is something that we talked about in class as we were covering this topic.

Applying This Technique To Color Theory

I was first introduced to the concept of inkblots through my Color Theory class this semester. For the project we had to make four inkblots portraying various types of emotions using colors. To start the project off we had to make color pallets by picking different colors to go with different emotions. This was a way for us to get a feel of different placings of color. We then reviewed each others color pallets in class which was interesting because everyone had something different. For the inkblot shape itself, we made the inkblots in class and then enlarged the one inkblot shape and made a stencil, tracing it onto the painting once the background was done.

  • Fear/Anxiety-For the emotion of fear/anxiety, I went with darker toned colors. Ironically this is a emotion almost everyone nowadays is feeling. The irony right? I went with a dark purple, blue, and a red color scheme.
  • Compassion-For my inkblot of compassion, I used the colors of yellow, orange and a dark blue. I wanted to use both warm and cool colors as those are the colors I felt related with compassion the best.
  • Happiness-The emotion of compassion has a brighter, more upbeat tone to it. I went with the color choices of yellow, blue and pink. With the inkblot being the pink, I felt it really portrayed a poppy and just overall joyful emotion.
  • Compassion/Anxiety-For my last inkblot, we were assigned to do a mixture of colors for the background and basically sum up two emotions together. I went for compassion and anxiety. The warm purple color is supposed to represent the anxiety and the orange colored inkblot is supposed to represent the emotion of compassion.

The Inkblot Wrap Up

So we have reached the end of this article and I’m going to give myself some type of credit because I think I did a decent job explaining it. The topic of inkblots was so interesting to me, I felt making an article for our site just felt appropriate. I’m in no way an expert within paintings but I do like color and with my major, I do have to know how to work with color pallets when deciding what colors work and don’t work together. Out of all the projects that I did in my color theory class, this one was my favorite because there were so many different ways to interpret everyone’s inkblots. Everyone did something different that had their own unique spin/style and it was really interesting to critique each other’s work in class. The fun thing about inkblots is there’s endless ways of analyzing it, looking at different shapes, and with color being added into some, it adds more of ways to think of how the inkblot speaks to you personally.

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