It’s Just an Illusion

The use of creative imagery has always played an important role in advertising. All types of companies and organizations use it. The fact that we are always in contact with ads is an important factor for these advertisers. One such organization that has used advertisements and visuals to promote their cause is the Salvation Army. The_Salvation_Army.svgUnlike many groups however they are not trying to sell products but sell idea instead. Their goal is selling ideas is so that they can continue to provide care to all who are suffering. In this particular advertisement, which is promoting the awareness of domestic abuse, created by the Salvation Army and their abuse shelter Care Haven they use popular imagery to create a dauntless statement that will grab the viewers attention as well as cause them to reevaluate their present perception of abuse.

The background of the image is a dark gray color. The creator has done this so that the focus of the picture will remain in the center. The whole ad is taken up with the body of a woman. To keep the woman the main focus they have also made the description of the ad simple and to the far right side of the image. This way when the audience looks at the ad their attention will be immediately drawn to the center. The woman who is modeling for the ad is lying on her side in the position often used when trying to show of the model’s figure or to advertise the clothing that the ad is trying to sell. She is a white woman with long, dirty blonde hair. The imagery that this provides us with is the stereotypical idea we often have of what a typical woman looks like. She is both elegant and attractive. Her nails are painted and she is wearing makeup. This suggests that she cares about her appearance and values how others see her. The appearance of the woman gives her credibility in the eyes of the viewer. By being well put together she lets the audience know that she is trustworthy, well kempt, and probably an overall good person.

When the viewer initially takes in the woman they see her as someone they can associate with. Whether she reminds them of themselves or a friend or relative she presents a familiar face. The beauty of the woman is quickly put aside however as the viewer’s attention is drawn to the dark spots that cover the woman’s body. The black and blue welts are spread out across the woman’s legs, face, and wrist. By placing the bruises in these specific places the ad is showing the locations of physical abuse usually done by a husband or partner. The bruise on her wrist represent the times when she was grabbed roughly on her arm, the bruises on her face for when she said something she wasn’t supposed to, and then the bruises on her legs from where she was kicked after being pushed to the floor. The creator has placed the bruises in spots where signs of abuse are most commonly found or spotted by others.

The second part of the ad that grabs the viewer’s attention next would have to be the dress that the woman is wearing. Due to the bruises all over the woman’s body you would think that she would try and cover them up but that is not the case here. The creator has intentionally dressed her in a figuring hugging, short length dress. However this isn’t just any normal dress. It is “The dress” that went viral in February of 2015. The reason for its fame came from the argument over whether the dress was black and blue or white and gold. The dispute went on for quite some time as each person saw the dress as a different color. The dress was thought to be an illusion but the original was finally declared to be black and blue by the owner.

The creator of this ad has used this Internet craze to tie it to the point of the ad. They are hoping that the stir that this dress caused would also cause a similar reaction with the ad. They want people to discuss and argue over whether or not abuse is something prevalent. Because only by arguing and discussing will there be any real conclusion. No solution can come if people are passive and choose not to argue over the “color.” The ad makes the connection between the dress and the abuse by saying “The only illusion is if you think it was her choice.” By stating this the Salvation Army is challenging the viewer to disagree with them. They don’t want the talk of abuse to just be whispers behind closed doors they want it to be spread all over the media, just like the dress, so that everyone can be apart of making a change. They want people to voice their opinions of abuse; whether they view it only as an illusion or if they are aware of the real colors.


The woman in the image is looking straight at the viewer. The importance of eye contact is needed for this particular ad. They say that eyes are the windows to the soul and this is true as it as her eyes that draw people in. By having the sullen eyes meet the eyes of the audience the ad is able to make a connection between the two. This connection makes the ad more personal and connects the woman in the image to women the viewer may know personally. Although the look is somber it is not begging. It is as if she is not asking you to help her but instructing you to. She has decided that she can no longer wait for someone to notice her pain so she is reminding the audience that if they do not become aware of her situation soon it will be too late. Her abuse as well as that of many other women will not stop. Her demand is not one that makes people back away but instead holds them firm reminding them of their responsibility. Having this personal connection with the woman will stir the viewer into spending more time looking at the ad. With this they will find out its meaning and in the end hopefully agree with it.

By portraying a woman in a dress that was argued over as being either white and gold or black and blue the creator of the ad is asking the audience what they see on the woman. She happens to be wearing the dress in the colors white and gold but the bruises that cover her body are black and blue. This contrast includes both color sets that were argued over. The ad is asking the audience whether what they see is an illusion or if they can see the real thing; the real thing being that abuse does happen. The ad says that “one is 6 women are victims of abuse.” By adding statistics the Salvation Army can provide credibility to their claim. Abuse happens to a lot of women and we need to be on the lookout for it so that we can put an end to it. The ad is hoping that what they see will leave a disturbing image in their mind so in the future they can be aware of what happens to so many women. By creating a powerful message the Salvation Army along with Care Haven have been able to use something as trivial as an argument over a dress to bring awareness of abuse.

Painting His Words

Art and language are often thought to live in separate worlds but if an individual is able to combine both he creates an atmosphere that brings together those who would have otherwise stayed apart. Charlie O’Shields does just that in his blog the Doodlewash. He has created an online journal where he can share his thoughts and artwork. He captures the simplicity of life with his bright watercolor pictures and insightful thoughts. His childlike openness makes him easy to respond to and makes a person feel as though they are having a one on one conversation with the blogger himself. Throughout his journal he seeks to connect with his readers through his thoughts and paintings.

A journal is a personal belonging that is not commonly shared with others. However Charlie has decided to share part of his journal with his readers. An important element of his blog is that each individual post is related to the main object in each of his painting. _32When he reminisces about when he had to use training wheels he painted a red bike with the training wheels. In his blog about fruit he portrays a full picture of all types of delicious looking fruit, such as a pineapple, grapes, and kiwis. This is very important, as it makes sure that not only adults are able to enjoy his blog but also children who cannot read yet. They are able to enjoy the bright and colorful pictures even if they do not know what the words are. For those who can read however will notice that the pictures are the focus of the text and this allows the reader to better understand the meaning behind Charlie’s thoughts by being able to visualize exactly what he is describing.

By sharing his thoughts with his readers Charlie invites them to respond. Each journal entry is three medium length paragraphs long. This allows the reader to read the thought without it becoming extensive and uninteresting. Throughout each paragraph he uses first person, which reminds his readers that he is a living human with a real life and real problems. People will be more inclined to respond to what he has written about if it is done in a way that is inviting and open. Charlie achieves this by talking about times when he would wake up on weekend mornings to a full plate of pancakes or how he loved to get packages in the mail if only he could pop all the bubble wrap that was inside. He creates the atmosphere of listening to a short story, a story that a friend would share with you.

One example of this connection is in his piece entitled “Training Wheels.” This blog envelops many of the aspects of Charlie’s creativity. He usually begins each post with a personal event that took place sometime in his childhood. This ranges from what he did, ate, played with, saw, and much more. In this particular post he begins by explaining how as a child he hated his training wheels and how hard he tried to get rid of them as soon as he possibly could. “The training wheels were embarrassing, and so I didn’t go very far on them back then.” He was envious of the other kids who didn’t need them. By including a glimpse into his childlike mind the reader is able to relate to him as someone who has once been young and filled with energy. He then goes on to express how he wished that he hadn’t taken his training wheels for granted and instead been thankful for them. By reflecting on his past thoughts he is able to explain how he now understands his childlike behavior: sometimes foolish and yet sometimes wise. He pulls out lessons he has learned during his transition from childhood to adulthood. His application of using training wheels even now reminds his readers of the importance of childhood and learning.

Charlie’s blog consists mainly of reminisces of times gone by and includes many stories from his childhood in his daily posts. His journal styled blog seems to almost be like a giant storybook full of coming of age experiences. In his “Something Fruity” post he includes many different facts about the types of fruit that he has included in his painting. His addition of knowledge makes the blog post not only fun to look at but also mind-boggling as the reader learns new things about everyday items. For example, “Apples are actually a member of the rose family, along with peaches and raspberries.” His inclusiveness of all things interesting and unique makes what could be a boring account something that the reader will look forward to.

Another important aspect of Charlie’s blog is the way he writes to his readers, encouraging them to discover things for themselves and to branch out and try new things. He demonstrates this in the blog, “A Bug’s View,” by reminding his audience that it is ok to wonder what our purpose is here on earth. He describes how he once thought that being a tiny insect would be fun and exciting and then later in life how it might possibly get him out of work and trouble. “The idea that one could be shrunk down to an impossibly small size for a brief period of time is enthralling.” Charlie often talks about how he struggled with not being a good enough artists. He was jealous of others and envied the works of other people. In manman-writing-in-journal-stock-photoy of his posts he admits this but then concludes with the fact that he is now ok with not being the best. He has learned that it is ok to be “small”. That it is ok to be afraid of what life is bringing and not knowing what tomorrow holds. He looks up to other artists and wants to learn from those who are better than him because he knows at that time he will truly grow. In fact he says “But I never get discouraged as I now realize they all have something to teach me.” He is the best he can be and all he can do is practice over and over again. Even if he isn’t a great artist now he can still admire and learn from the best without feeling like a failure.

He has worked with photography and drawing but he has found his true joy in being able to watercolor. He lets his readers know that he has never had patience for directions “I like to have fun in whatever I do, and for me, that usually means just jumping in and trying things without reading the manual first.” Ironically however he has provided his readers and fellow artists with a vast amount of art tutorials and art supply reviews. This shows that although one thing may not work for him it doesn’t mean it won’t help someone else out in the long run.

One other thing that he adds to his blog is his monthly art challenges. He not only wants his audience to enjoy his stories and paintings but he also wants them to take part in it themselves. His wish is for others to be able to express themselves through any type of medium. creativityHe only hopes that he can be of assistance in guiding them to discovering what type that is. As an artist he knows what it is like to be frustrated. Each of his posts allows the reader to get to know the author as someone who has known what it is like to feel like they aren’t good enough. Charlie doesn’t fear though. He knows his potential and he has faith that everyone that comes across his blog will find his own.

Charlie isn’t a glamorous writer. He doesn’t write just to fill up a page or try and make himself sound as though he knows it all. His writing is simple yet at times profound, pulling at the innermost parts of the readers mind. He writes trusting each person that reads his blog will feel as though they have gone through the same experience. He wants to build others up and share his love of language and art with everyone. As a writer he draws people to him by sharing things that matter most to him. As an artist he pulls people in by expressing himself through a medium that speaks without words. Throughout each picture and each story Charlie has made an effort to connect to people. He has encouraged creativity and togetherness through words and art. He has created a place where people can come to teach and to learn from each other.

Make sure to check out his work!

Cited Works
O’Shields, Charlie. “Training Wheels.” Doodlewash January 2017. Online. February 11, 2017. Available.
O’Shields, Charlie. “Something Fruity.” Doodlewash February 2017. Online. February 11, 2017. Available.
O’Shields, Charlie. “A Bug’s View.” Doodlewash February 2017. Online. February 12, 2017. Available.