The Serendipitous Upside-down Abstract Landscape Surprise

I spent the morning playing with different media and versions of a beach landscape, exploring different media, line, light, color, space, texture, edges, and shape.

And then I happened to glance at my line drawing of the beach landscape when it was upside down…


Perhaps that’s a big bush in the foreground? Or is it the tussled shadow of a tree we can’t see, blowing in the wind? Is it raining? Trees in the distance, a big moody sky, and a storm coming in, already wrestling with the shadows and clouds and bushes and leaves, and throwing them about in the sky. Or are those birds flying off for shelter?

You know what’s weird and extra fun? Now this upside-down version that I’d never before conceived of feels like it’s the “right” one and the original, carefully considered beach scene looks wrong!


When you loosen your attachment to needing to know or be “right”, develop an appreciation for the value of a healthy dose of uncertainty and confusion, and try looking at things from different vantage points… things start to get beautifully abundant with possibility. Being playful and not-knowing in your art-making can be a wonderful pursuit that’s full of the joy of curiosity, happy surprises, and new perspectives.

Just like in therapeutic conversations.

(And I’m not just talking about therapists’ mindsets. Ha!)

Is it art or is it life?

  • Where in your life might the picture and story look very different if you sat at the other side of the table?
  • Setting aside questions of agreement, what kind of conversation might offer you the possibility to at least see that other story that you’ve not seen yet?
  • What could be possible for that relationship with the person on the other side of the table if you could hold your certainties a little more loosely, bring your curiosity, allow yourself to feel a little confused, and see if you can see what they see?