After a couple of decades wielding a brush, I’m wondering if you’ve also experienced this: I paint all day and while resting I think about paintings. Then I go to sleep and dream about paintings I’ve not yet painted.
A few mornings ago, I rose from bed and, like a premium droid, set to work without question on the thing I had dreamt. After reasonable success, I wondered if this process might simplify the whole operation and alleviate mental exertion. Was I dreaming about painting because of all my painting activity, or were the paintings emerging from the depths of my subconscious, regardless? Which came first: the painting or the dream?
This phenomenon isn’t rare. Chefs dream of food, mechanics of carburetors and directors yell “cut” in their sleep. A 2003 study even gave it a name — “Sleepwork.” In a survey of 1000 adults, 80% of women and 60% of men dream about work. Half of them also report waking up in a cold sweat. For artists, all dreams are potential fodder for a new or refined direction. All along stubborn to prove the value of my daytime ideas, I now fear I may have overridden the smarter leanings of my dream-state. Work could be simply the servant of dreams — production in real time from unseen places.
My dad used to tell me to leave something a little unfinished on the easel before retiring at night — in the morning, the painting will tell you what it needs. A midday rest can also invigorate your imagination and give you a second wind in the studio. “It will never rain roses,” wrote George Eliot. “When we want to have more roses we must plant more trees.”
PS: “We want to produce as a plant produces a fruit and does not itself reproduce. We want to produce directly and without meditation.” (Hans Jean Arp)
Esoterica: “Each one is really just a step towards the next, isn’t it?” said the plumber, while scanning the layers of paintings that had accumulated along the baseboards of our house. I remembered an exhibit at the Museum of Natural History: a steep, walkable plaster cove, coiling into itself with images describing the lifespan of Earth, and at the end a hairline to show humankind’s fraction of time on the planet. The pictorial chronology revealed the evolution of the universe and gave it all context by showing what was on either side of each event. Paintings are also born of each other. As a novelist bangs out the story already written in her head, a painter can slap down the nearly-complete paintings of her dreams. “The chicken,” said Richard Dawkins, “is only an egg’s way for making another egg.”
“To be full of joy when looking at an oeuvre is not a little thing.” (Hans Jean Arp)
Enjoy five full days of drawing and painting at Mill Road Studio in Port Rexton, NL. Work in the studio overlooking scenic Trinity Bay, and en plein air in the stunning coastal landscape with dramatic cliffs rising up out of the North Atlantic.
The cost is $1250.00 CDN including lunch and all materials.
Sessions run from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. each day.
For more information please write firstname.lastname@example.org
or phone Stephen Zeifman at 709-464-3907.