Pareidolia Painting Series

Self Portrait, Pareidolia Painting
Self Portrait, 24 x 30 inches, M. Graham oil paints on panel, $4300

Is it Pareidolia?

We walk into a dimly lit room and see a figure staring back at us, Pareidolia. Startled we recognize it is only a coat peculiarly lying on a chair. What was that? What just happened?

Could it be our minds playing with us? A mind that quickly assembles and recognizes face-like image where there is none. It may not be our imagination but part of our early survival instincts software that has aided us in recognizing other living forms. Could this be heightened in some humans more than others? Do some find it disturbing? Or do we all have it? Is it cool when we recognize it? Then quickly want to share with others.

Pareidolia painting incorporates perceived images that do not exist. Like seeing a face in a cloud. A Pareidolia experience is where you may perceive an image of animals, faces or objects in cloud formations, a knotty piece of wood, a marbled tile, stains, inkblots and other forms.

Corporate, Pareidolia Painting
Corporate, 30 x 24 inches, M. Graham oil paints on panel, $4300

Leonardo da Vinci explained in his notebook that it was a device for painters to explore. Where we can see an infinite number of things that can be reduced into separate and well-conceived forms.

Eat, Pareidolia Painting
Eat, 30 x 24 inches, M. Graham oil paints on panel, $4300

I enjoy drawing from my mind. Demonstrating where the perceived and conceived collide. Painting a depiction of two parallel universes. One being a visual reality of what I think is before us combined with the second filled with perceptions, reflections, and experiences in the mind.

The Arts, Pareidolia Painting
The Arts, 30 x 24 inches, M. Graham oil paints on panel, $4300

Please visit my Gallery, The Creative Underground and enjoy viewing my demonstrations of a “Pareidolia Experience” Exhibition.

Pharmaceutical, Pareidolia Painting
Pharmaceutical, 30 x 24 inches, M. Graham oil paints on panel, $4300
Hidden Faces, Pareidolia Painting
Hidden Faces, 24 x 18 inches, M. Graham oil paints on panel, $2600


Dan McCaw shares his personal adventure about fine arts oil painting with Daryl Urig of the Creative Underground in an interview on February 15, 2016.

I hope you enjoy the video interview with Dan McCaw as I have.

I have enjoyed getting to know a fantastic oil painter that I admire. His philosophy on life and painting will make you search deeper when starting your next painting or refreshing an old painting. We will be able to take a painting to a new level making it more enjoyable. Not having to take the same path each time you approach the canvas. We will be opening a new chapter in the book of fine arts oil painters.

See other artist interviews here:

Do you have a look-alike?

I have heard it called a look-alike, twin stranger and also a face double. I have seen mine. When I lived out East I was visiting an artist representative husband and wife team in New York City. I entered their Brownstone home office and both of their mouths dropped open. She exclaimed, “You look exactly like our son”. I found this amazing and even hard to believe. They kept staring at my face. We sat down and talked. Then their look-alike son came home and they introduced him. We both stared at our resemblance to each other in disbelief then laughed. I understand and do believe it is possible. I have witnessed it myself. Somewhere out in the world it is possible there is another person who looks just like you. Another you.

twin stranger
A look-alike portrait painting of a woman living over 2,000 miles away

It never occurred to me that it could happen with a portrait painting. A portrait painted of one person would be purchased by their double. What a coincidence, what are the chances of this happening? A twin stranger portrait painting, could this exist? A painting completed of a Cincinnati, Ohio woman, look like a woman in American Canyon, in the Napa Valley Region of California.  Yes it can.

The twin stranger portrait painting was not just a double; it was much, much more. Some how it captured a very intriguing resemblance. Not only a look alike face of the individual, but all of the quirky gestures of the body as well. The way she carried herself, look, smile, essence, hat, down to the surrounding scene it was painted in. The painting was a time capsule snapshot of the woman 2,309 miles away. A perfect match to how she looked six years prior. How can this be?

When she saw the painting in my Internet Gallery on my website, she new she had to have it. I agreed this painting seemed to be painted for her. She plans to leave the portrait of herself to her children after her death. All of her family was gone and historically have a tendency to die young. She was now in her forties, the time when most of her family moves on. She had no confidence in how much time she had left. Additionally she had just gone through an ugly divorce. It was a very emotional time for Tina.

This is one of Tina’s look-alike excerpts from a Facebook message:

“Looking at your portrait of “me”…in the garden…with my ever present hat and ponytail…fluffing to the side like in the pic…no makeup etc. and I SEE me! I’m the only one I know who dresses like that. The skirt at work in the nursery and the garden! My friends chide me about it! Okay…I’m sorry, how many different ways can I tell you the same thing?? ?lol.

…my journey here is full of even more blessings (smile emoticon) like this weird painting! Ha! What are the odds? Not just similar in looks but capturing exactly the looks and essence of me. Thanks Again Daryl. You have really done a wonderful thing for us!”

When the carefully packed painting finally arrived in California this was Tina’s response on Facebook:

“It’s everything I thought it would be and more. It’s not just the face; it’s everything in the picture…from her pose, like I hate my pictures, so I would want to be painted like that…the picket fence… It’s very emotional for me. Thank you. Someday I’m going pose with the painting and take a photo and send it to you. I am going to proudly hang the painting above the mantle.”

Then something unexpected happened for Tina:

“Wait, I just saw the back of the painting…you painted this in January 2009?
It’s just my mom, and step-grandpa died on January 30, 2009.

Daryl, I have a feeling I will be “checking in” a number of times before our lives are done! I just can’t express to you the impact that this painting is having on me, and my family.

The other day Russell, my firstborn, 22, came by for the first time since it arrived. He had seen the pictures of it but was unprepared for the impact it had on him. He looked at it for a while, got a little emotional, kept saying “but, how can this be?” “Everything, mom is you. That’s your hat you still wear, I’m pretty sure you have that top and skirt…and the fence is like at the Napa house??” How can this not be you?

He also said how glad he is I got it, that it was meant to be…people don’t just find perfect portraits of themselves on the internet every day. For me, I haven’t really begun to explore what it means to me.

Finally, I just can’t stress enough that I could not have commissioned a better total representation of ME.

I’ve never carried around a painting before. This thought has led me to look into the relationship one develops, or can develop with a painting.”

I cannot put in words:

“I could not be happier for Tina; in so many ways I could not even put it in words. This painting has outdone the authoring painter. A life for a painting I could not have ever invented or imagined. I am in awe.”

So who was the model for the painting Tina has asked me?

I painted a series of paintings called “Woman in the Garden”. My wife Robyn graciously offered to model for the series. She is the same age as Tina and could possibly be her identical twin. Who knows?

See the complete painting series “Woman in the Garden”, please click now.

Read more about the paintings of Daryl Urig on his blog here:

Setting better goals for the 2016 fine arts painter

  1. If you thought about painting, now is the time to begin
  2. Keep painting fun
  3. Paint with purpose
  4. Have a clear message
  5. Engage the viewer
  6. Paint your own idea
  7. Find answers to gaps in your learning
  8. Allow your personality to show through in each new painting
  9. Believe in yourself
  10. Get rid of any self-doubt
  11. Stop worrying
  12. Focus on what new things you want to achieve
  13. Find something you like about 10% of each painting
  14. Look for an instructor different than yourself
  15. Work ridiculously hard
  16. Be practical
  17. Take chances
  18. Reach out to a wider audience of collectors
  19. Paint what you enjoy
  20. Master the art of selling paintings

What would consider adding to this list?

I have filled my gallery at the Creative Underground with many of my painting experiences. I would enjoy having you stop in for a visit. Please call or text before you come.

You may enjoy starting a painting class with me on Tuesday evenings from 5:30 to 8pm. please contact me below:

Call/Text: 513-708-7981

My New Online Gallery

My new Online Gallery is available for viewing

Please text/call to receive up to date pricing: 513-708-7981

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We are privileged

Reflecting over the life we all are privileged to live. Each of us unknowingly enjoying the creative benefits of those who came before us that contributed to our “life”. Who fought for our freedom, made the journey to America’s, invented electricity, a Christmas song, thought of a Nutcracker, painted the painting “Starry Night”. So many creative inventions to make our life better, safer, more enjoyable, warmer in winter, we have so much to appreciate each day of our life. Donald Deskey invented plywood, who invented the 2 x 4” to build our homes with? Disney gave us Mickey Mouse. The list goes on and on.

Makes you think, what will I be able to contribute to this great thing we call life.

What do you appreciate? What do you want to do?

How to carry a large wet painting

I am just returning from South Carolina. A thank you to all my friends I was able to catch up with and new acquaintances I met during my stay. It is fun and engaging to meet new people and see what new ideas are brewing not only in the creative world but also in day-to-day living.

It seems many people are open to new ideas. Looking for answers in our quickly changing world. I hope we all find the answers we are looking for.

Now back home in Ohio getting ready for my Holiday Opening next week at the Creative Underground Gallery, December 8 through the 10th from 10 am till 4 pm, and wanting to share an idea I discovered.

How to carry a large wet painting. The car was packed so I had to be inventive to make space for a large wet painting. Laying it flat on the back seat was not an option, and I had no pizza box large enough to house the painting.

It is a 24 inches wide by 18 inches tall painting painted on primed Masonite. My solution, “nail on furniture glides”. The types that you may see on the bottom of wood kitchen chair leg that help protect a wood floor from scuffing.

I had another panel the same size as my wet painting and sandwich the panels together separating them with “nail on furniture glides”. You can see by the pictures posted here that I was able to secure the furniture glides using duck tape to hold it against a non-painted panel. I did this for times. You could use more for larger panels. Then lay this on top of the painted panel. Like a sandwich. Duck Tape both panels together on the side edges and across the backs of both panel with short pieces of tape to keep both from moving or sliding in travel.

When you arrive at your final destination you can carefully separate the two panels. If there is any touch up, you may fix it then. It should only be very small pin marks. I didn’t notice any on my painting.

This worked for me. Hope it helps you out of a tight jam.


Norman Schnepf, Art Teacher, Avon Lake High School

If you graduated with me from Avon Lake High School, in Avon Lake, Ohio, you may not remember this gentleman. Even if you went to the school you probably would not see him unless you took an art class. Then be lucky enough to draw him as your instructor. If you played basketball you probably did not notice him behind the table keeping score, year after year.

His name was Norman Schnepf, my art teacher. Probably my most influential art instructor. He was quiet. He would offer up suggestions only if you asked him for his guidance. I asked, and he provided my aching art heart creative food for thought. If it was not for his direction back then I would no doubt be as far along as I am today.


Cloud Formation, 34 w x 12 inches H, Oil on Panel, 2015

In his class he taught me about design. He loved abstraction and was eager to share his insights to an open mind. We could explore many tools, and this is where I first came in contact with the painting knife, my primary painting tool today. I am just beginning to turn the corner and returning to some abstract painting.

After I went to my first year of art school I returned to his class to share what I learned. One student did follow me to my college. Years later I thought of him. When I Googled his name I was sorry to learn that he had past. I had wanted to thank him again for the foundation he had helped me lay in painting.

An update to my faithful blog followers

To my faithful followers that have signed up on my website blog “the Adventures of an American Oil Painter”. Thank you, it has been a very busy and challenging time.

I have so many thoughts going on in my head. Not having time to express them in a painting is very frustrating for me. Today I was able to get outside in the warm sun and finally paint a landscape viewed from my studio. Painting and tennis are very important emotional outlets for me.

This may be a little jumbled and informative so just hang in with me for a minute or two.

I’ve been finished constructing my studio. Many you have followed and seen the progress. I recently finished my desk and my “Wall of Paintings”. I have too many paintings to count and not enough frames or wall space to hang them. I designed a compact display system; this seems to be working out well. Still working on the lighting for these beautiful paintings. All of my paintings are part of my Holiday Celebration Exhibition, December 7, 8 and 9, 2015, from 10 am till 4 pm. Stop in and enjoy a glass of wine with me and peruse 100’s of paintings at friendly holiday pricing.

I never understood how having space for a gallery would affect me. It’s fun when all the paintings are displayed together. You can begin to see distinct character that is developing in your painting style. We are always learning and growing, as painters, otherwise it would not be any fun. What kinds of notions, ideas or subject matter you are drawn to. You see them popping up consistently in various paintings. It can be very encouraging and enlightening to the painter.

Over the last two or three months I have been developing two paintings, as I mentioned earlier. An abstract landscape of sky and clouds, much of this was the accomplished primarily in my head. The second is a figurative painting of a female practicing Yoga. Working with sketches, photos and painting color studies while carefully describing shapes to make an interesting representation. I cannot wait to get fully immersed in both of these developing paintings.

I am leaving in a few days for South Carolina and will be there for three weeks.

Forgot, remodeled our kitchen.

Did I mention Dan McCaw? He is a fabulous oil painter. I love his work. We have been working on a video together discussing his painting. This hopefully will be completed shortly and will be available for viewing at Daryl Urig’s Creative Underground; you also may freely view many other painter interviews at

I just love what I am doing and have so much passion for it. I want to share my enthusiasm with you. In January, on the 12, 13 and 14th, 2016, I will be hosting a workshop for beginning to intermediate painters called “Get Back into Art – Finding a Creative Outlet” at my Creative Underground Studio. Please see details on my website.

Hope to see you soon.

Our Journey – Getting to Know T. C. Steele

My journey this past weekend with my wife Robyn took us to these three locations where we learned more about T. C. Steele. Without any doubt T. C. Steele is one of Indiana’s best-known painters. We enjoyed learning about a talented and adventurous man with a strong will to grow his painting. Our first stop was in Waveland, Indiana. I want to thank the Tim and Meg Shelly for their vision of renovating T. C. Steele Boyhood Home and opening it up for painter retreats.

We took time to get to know the character of the home and its surrounding landscape. We saw the intense fall tree colors. One of our favorite excursions was to Turkey Run State Park about 10 miles away. There we enjoyed a unique hiking experience, walking and climbing through creek bed paths and straddling between rocks, stairs and steep ladders that would drop down to lower narrow plateaus.

Steele has a lot to tell us about living the artist life. Though I will keep it short. He sought education in painting and then taught others. He made a living by primarily painting portraits, this to support his love for outdoor painting of Indiana landscapes.

To help Steele further his art training, his friends and art patrons provide financial support for him and his family to go to Munich, Germany. There he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts. From what I have seen from other painters who attended the Munich school was a similar love for greys in a painting. This movement in painting influenced Steele. Carrying it not only in his portraits but also landscape paintings.

Later Steele was called a Hoosier Impressionist painter.  Though his work had a totally different direction from the Impressionists painter Claude Monet in Paris, who created Impressionism.

T. C. Steele Boy Hood Home, Daryl and Robyn Urig

T. C. Steele's Chair painted by Daryl Urig

For our second stop we traveled to Indiana University and saw many paintings in their art gallery. My favorite figurative oil painting titled “The Boatman” was by T. C. Steele. Painted in 1884. It was painted in mostly smoky greys.

The Boatman, 1884 by T. C. Steele

To finish our weekend journey we traveled to Nashville, Indiana to see one of his many studios. This one called the House of the Singing Woods is a beautiful studio in a very primitive and remote spot high on top of a hill.  Not a practical choice for a studio where one chooses to live. There was no available water, suitable land for planting or available food for someone who does not hunt. His wife was totally unprepared. She did not know how to cook on a potbelly stove or even cook for that matter.

Steele’s choice was based solely on the artistic view. It was a beautiful, majestic home in simple remote surroundings. An environment to paint and entertain many visitors who would like to drop in and see what was going on with this unusual couple.

He was capable of teaching and supported his family with his portrait commissions. His wife later planting gardens so they would have food and flowers to include as subject matter for paintings.

It so surprised me that though they did not have all of the technology we have today he had many avenues for success. The world must not have look too big to him so he moved many times. Living in many places from Indiana to Michigan, Chicago and Germany. Possibly more.

There is so much to say about this man and his wife. To enjoy it fully you will want to visit his historic sites and take the tour in Nashville to get a glimpse of his life.

Singing Woods in Nashville Indiana, Home/Studio of T. C. Steele

Watch video of Daryl Urig and his Interview with Rachel Perry published author of “Paint and Canvas: A Life of T.C. Steele”