The inaugural Mysterious Night Vision Field Journal Course went extremely well! A new section has opened and is available for enrollment now for $75.00:
Welcome to Your Mysterious Night Vision Field Journal Online Class
Mysterious Night Vision Field Journal began one day in Eastern Oregon when sister Cheryl gave sister Sandy a black paper artist’s journal and a handful of gel pens and Prismacolor pencils. Both of us started first to do scribble art.
Out of the darkness of the page emerged the figures of dream and imagination. I was as if we were cave painters putting our hands to the dark cave walls and blowing paint to mark our passing there. Spirit figures emerged from the dark pages of the cave and began to move in living color.
In our Mysterious Night Vision Field Journals, we see the outer world in reverse, as if in a mirror. Slightly disoriented, in love with vivid color, we pursue the soul’s uncensored purpose.
We are so glad you are joining us!
In this class, you will be given a short lesson and a drawing assignment or challenge every other day. Videos and examples are provided for direction and inspiration. There are also bonus assignments for those who have time to explore more deeply.
Some of the assignments are:
Draw a Dream Animal
Draw a Volcano, Tsunami or Other Dramatic Natural Disaster
Draw a Jungle
Draw a Soul Portrait
Draw a Dream
You will write about your images, then take a photo (with your cell phone, for example) and add to the class. There you will be able to give and receive imaginative, supportive feedback.
Cheryl Renee Long is the instructor for this course. She’s the blonde in the photo.
Her sister, Sandy Brown Jensen, will be taking the course alongside you. Sandy is also the resident techie, so feel free to consult with her with any tech related questions at firstname.lastname@example.org
We love our Mysterious Night Vision Journals, and we are excited to be sharing this passion with you.
On March 5, 2016, Daniel Smith Artist Supplies in Seattle, WA, sponsored a Mysterious Night Vision Field Journal workshop by Cheryl Renee Long and Sandy Brown Jensen. This video captures that event and the spontaneous art produced by the 13 participants. The pool is still open–jump on in! The registration button is on the home page of this blog post.
Sometimes I feel that I am nurturing a baby. I hold her close to my heart and I go about my life.
Sometimes I dream that I have forgotten my baby or I left her behind somewhere. I frantically search for her and usually find I left her behind at the home of a relative.
In my dream I berate myself, “How could I forget a child?”
A few weeks ago I reviewed all of my old sketchbooks going back to the 1970’s. I saw so many great sketches that remained an embryonic idea. It made me sad to see how many possibilities never came to fruition.
But ideas are everywhere. We mere humans cannot actualize the abundance of creativity that is available to us.
So I draw the woman with a baby, a floral skirt and colorful shawl. She nurtures her art the very best she can, and she also dances and she rejoices in life.
I hope you will join us for the March 7, 2016 Mysterious Night Vision Field Journal class, or tell someone you love about it.
NOTE: The next Color Your World two week class begins Jan 4, 2016. What makes this class different is the one-on-one daily interaction with an empathetic instructor and with a supportive community of fellow artists. Only $50.00. Click this button to learn more and to register:
If you would like to experience a free class, click here:
Dreaming in the New Year
During the holidays, it’s sometimes hard to even hear yourself think. These are joyous family times for most (though not all, I acknowledge). But eventually visitors leave or you travel home. You become aware in the northern hemisphere of the short days, the long nights, the rain or the snow. In the southern hemisphere, dog days of summer keep temperatures hovering around 100 degrees F.
Now is the time to find your own quiet place, go deep into a kind of dreaming trance and let some other spirit speak quietly to you. It’s true that this healing mental and spiritual drifting has an affinity for water. In the Mysterious Night Visiondrawing above, Cheryl has drawn a bubble bath. In my household, it’s the hot tub with a glass roof and the sound of the constant rain. I’ve been in warm climates this time of year, and there we are drawn to waterfalls and the warm sea.
Give yourself to those private moments, and then find a place to curl up and draw in your Mysterious Night Vision Field Journal. If a white bird seems to flow out of curly pink hair–so be it. TheNight Vision Journalis never about “learning how to draw”; it is first and foremost a place to bring the images and colors behind your eyes to the black paper which is so much like the drawing board of a dream.
the dark buds of dreams
In the center
of every petal
is a letter,
and you imagine
if you could only remember
and string them all together
they would spell the answer.
It is a long night,
and not an easy one—-
you have so many branches,
and there are diversions—-
birds that come and go,
the black fox that lies down
to sleep beneath you,
the moon staring
with her bone-white eye.
Finally you have spent
all the energy you can
and you drag from the ground
the muddy skirt of your roots
and leap awake
with two or three syllables
like water in your mouth
and a sense
of loss—-a memory
not yet of a word,
certainly not yet the answer—-
only how it feels
when deep in the tree
all the locks click open,
and the fire surges through the wood,
and the blossoms blossom.
Somewhere far back in my childhood, a visionary teacher asked me to draw around my own hand and color it. I remember feeling delight when I drew my hand and frustration with the blunt and wimpy crayons. Even then I longed for intense color and precise drawing tools.
This morning at 3:20 am, my art naturally gravitated to black paper and gel pen. December 6 is only 17 days from winter solstice and the longest day on planet earth. There is something translucent about winter art. The barrier between waking and sleeping seems sheer. The conscious and the subconscious talk to each other more clearly under the blanket of a dark and rainy night.
Tonight I draw my hand as an elder, many years from the kindergarten art class. I think of it as a secret letter to myself. Who am I now? What have I become since 5 years old? Is this a life well lived so far?
DRAW YOUR HAND EXERCISE
Sometimes the simplest, most childlike art-assignments-to-self can yield the most piercing insights into ourselves. I don’t need to tell you for that for this one, place your hand on your black paper journal and draw its outline. Do you see how that looks like an image on the ancient cave walls? This is a really old art exercise!
Now enter into the drawing trance of childhood, adding words and images to your hand.
DRAW A MAP ON YOUR HAND
Because there is a little cartographer in each of us, an evocative variation of this exercise is to draw a map on your hand, as Gretchen Jones does here:
DRAW A DREAM IMAGE OF YOUR HAND
This is another approach to the hand exercise by Sandy Brown Jensen. This hand appeared to me in a dream where I dreamed the late Tibetan dream yoga master Tarab Tulku placed a very ancient blue agate eye in my palm.
Have you tried drawing your hand and then “entering” it with words and images? What was your experience? Tell us in the Comment field above.
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Yesterday was a day of dark storm clouds broken by sudden sun openings. Although I felt weak from a lingering flu, I picked up my camera for a short walk to see for myself what all the drama was about.
From the bridge over the Willamette River, still golden cottonwoods lit up with sunlight while thick, black clouds roiled behind. The light quickly changed to shadow and then the sun came back again, so my vision seemed to move between the everyday world and that Otherworld always waiting for a turn of the head, the shift in light that would reveal that world where every object is imbued with its own spirit and is waiting to speak to you about whatever is in your heart.
As I was crossing the boardwalk between two ponds, I stopped to frame an image of leaves, water, and reflections when I was startled by the banking flap of enormous wings. Great Blue Heron had flown directly into the focus place of the photo I had framed.
Instantly, I thought of a fragment from Ovid’s Heroides I had read earlier on the morning:
“Chance is always powerful. Let your hook always be cast; in the pool where you least expect it, there will be fish.”
Each card had a different animal on it, and its qualities translated into human terms in a little accompanying book. When we had a chance encounter with an animal in either the real world or through dream or another chance encounter such as the logo on a truck that arrested our attention, we would say that the animal “flew into my cards today.” We would look up the meaning of the card and through drawing and journaling think about the lesson or insight the animal was bringing. I consider this to be High Play.
Well, Great Blue Heron had certainly flown into my cards–smack into the intense focus of my camera.
I didn’t actually know anything about the symbolic or shamanic meaning of cranes or herons in Western traditions, so I did due diligence when I got home and looked it up.
I learned that herons and cranes were important in Celtic mythology. One reason was because those bird species lived in a misty environment between land and water–the marsh. Just as an hour of quick-changing sun and shadow shifted my seeing between worlds, so does the heron live in that liminal place at the doorway to the Otherworld.
I really love the other reason, too, which I learned from Anna Franklin’s excellent online site, Power Animals, Allies and Totem Animals, “The Celtic god Ogma was said to invented ogham [an ancient British and Irish alphabet] after watching the flight of cranes, the shapes of the birds against the sky giving him the idea for the angular letters.” As a poet and writing instructor, the idea of my writing springing from the shapes of birds against the sky is deeply satisfying.
I have been thinking pretty much non-stop lately about the Mysterious Night Vision Field Journaland the classes my sister and I are creating. The appearance of the Great Blue Heron literally flying into my focus tells me we are on the right track.
Your Mysterious Night Vision Field Journalis your Secret Book, your Book of Dreams where you draw and journal in that numinous space between land and water where the heron lives and feeds. We look at the outer world with our inner eyes, and when the heron flies, we understand the writing their stick legs and archeopteryx shapes make against the sky.
When the heron flapped giant silver wings into my lens, folded up and settled on his log in the pond, I got goosebumps all over. I definitely felt the necessity of responding to this vivid visitation in my Mysterious Night Vision Field Journal; this time as this blog post.
Moss says, “Feeling is your clue to meaning.”
Do you know the poet Mary Oliver? What she doesn’t know about the Science of Shivers doesn’t need to be known. Most of her poems creep up on me and give me the shivers–including those about Great Blue Heron:
Heron Rises From the Dark, Summer Pond
By Mary Oliver
is the long-necked, long-bodied heron,
always it is a surprise
when her smoke-colored wings
and she turns
from the thick water,
from the black sticks
of the summer pond,
rises into the air
and is gone.
Then, not for the first or the last time,
I take the deep breath
of happiness, and I think
how unlikely it is
that death is a hole in the ground,
that ascension is not possible,
though everything seems so inert, so nailed
back into itself–
the muskrat and his lumpy lodge,
the fallen gate.
And especially it is wonderful
that the summers are long
and the ponds so dark and so many,
and therefore it isn’t a miracle
but the common thing,
this trailing of the long legs in the water,
this opening up of the heavy body
into a new life: see how the sudden
gray-blue sheets of her wings
strive toward the wind; see how the clasp of nothing
takes her in.
Watch carefully then tell me: who flew into YOUR cards today?
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BOOKS I REFERENCED IN THIS ARTICLE
Note: I have personally read all of the books I referenced in this article and can recommend them to you as good companions on your Journey.
It is, in many ways, the opposite of ColorYourWorld. In the ColorYourWorld class, we are looking out at the world and making an artistic representation of it. When we have black paper, we have a dark blank slate. It is our interior darkness. It is the world of dream, of spontaneous creation. Here we may draw our deepest thoughts, our most ephemeral emotions, the world that lives behind our eyes. It is the well we go down to where we may draw up the water of our own personal Source Imagery.
In this dream, I am sitting with Mom at a cafe outside the Museum of Modern Art, although I have significantly and unconsciously labeled it “Musee.”
We see my dad, long since gone from this world, climbing the steps and entering the “Musee.”
That’s it, but this 2008 dream is still strong in me seven years later. You’ll notice (or maybe not) that I can’t draw. That matters not at all to me.
I am fascinated by the way the dreaming mind likes to rhyme. My parents were inseparable except by death, but even in death, dad enters the MOM-A. I think that speaks to their bond, which built the strong foundation of my life.
But the element that still engages me is the connection to me of Modern Art–and I have tried to live a life in art–and the cross meaning of “Musee,” or “muse,” that which inspires. In Greek mythology, there were nine Muses, and still today, each artist is said to have his or her own Muse or inner source of inspiration.
What I understand now about the dream is that my father’s spirit entered into the storehouse of modern art and became my Muse, an artistic spirit who still advises me. But I have to say these meanings only come to me now as I reflect on the dream so many years later.
THE DREAM MANDALA
I love the idea of drawing such elusive inner experiences inside a circle. It is a spiritual or ritual symbol representing the universe. Knowing that, my dream fills up the space of the universe for the page of the moment and reminds me to think expansively, to look not only inward but outward.