Creating from Dreams

In the dream world, the artist is offered a wealth of design, rhythm, colour and plasticity.  Many great works have been created from dream sources and dreamscapes. Experimentation in dream interpretation and externalizing those internal visions is a wonderful way for the new student of art to begin to unveil unconscious creations.  I’ve experimented with dreams for much of my life.  The topics of my book were given to me in a dream.  I was inspired very much by Maurice Maeterlinck who..

“…soon found that there is an excellent and inexhaustible source of material to be found in dreams.  In them, he discovered a law of nature offering truth and artistic creation to the seeker.”

Maeterlinck had a habit of waking in the middle of the night to write down his dreams, as I’m sure many a mystic has practiced.  He understood the value of dreams – the wealth of vision and truth as endless and inexhaustible as infinity.

We must value the art or practice that seeks to foresee or foretell future events or discover hidden knowledge by the interpretation of omens or by the aid of supernatural powers, unusual insight, intuitive perception… by means of dreams.

“I have a terrible lucidity at moments, when nature is so glorious; in those days I am hardly conscious of myself and the picture comes to me like in a dream,” said Vincent van Gogh, the great painter.

Dream analysis dates back to the Egyptians and has always been an important practice in the lives of the great creators.  Sigmund Freud considered dreams to be little clues on the “privileged route to an understanding of processes of repression and to the rest of the psychic life…  he called the dream ‘the royal road to the unconscious.’”  The power of the dream cannot be underestimated.  The secrets of the dream reveal themselves nightly to the mystic and from those dreams flow a treasure of wealth; for they all contain a wish or a fantasy – like the Field of Dreams wish.  Dream-thoughts come by day and play out in mind-movies at night. Interpreting the meanings of these dream-pictures is an art in itself, which takes great intuitive gifts, for dreams are like water reflections; they sometimes become disfigured as if by the motion of rippling water.  We must try to recognize the true picture within the distortion. And the dreamer must interpret by association and memory.

The young Mary Shelley, creator of Frankenstein, was inspired by a recurrent dream she had about her deceased child.  Her baby had only lived two weeks and after its death, she was determined to somehow resurrect it.  In a way, she did – through her art, through the creation of the great story of a man giving life, birthing a new being with the life force contained in electricity. The mysterious powers of electricity, at the time, were considered magical… even a novelty.  Shelley was haunted by the idea until she breathed life into her great novel.

Sleepwalking headlong into dream-scenes, landscapes of the mind, our visionary hallucinations may show us a new reality.  We become magical realists, surrealists “encouraging our imaginations to romp among the absurd allowing some colorful, extravagant, inappropriate element to invade the flatness of ordinary life.”  Federico Fellini’s films are perfect examples of an artist creating scenes that work like dreams “in which some random comment made during the day can set off a resonant and haunting episode while one sleeps.”  He never dismissed dreams as mere fantasies; instead he allowed the dreamscapes he created to cut to our very souls

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Art is about externalizing internal patterns such as stored memorizations of times we once knew.  To make the dream come true and show it as great as it appeared in the artist’s mind with all its charm, exciting vagueness and mystery is a feat in itself.  “…with what real feeling, and anxiety, and suffering do we experience joy, and sorrow and alarm in our dreams!”