Tag Archives: dream mandalas

The Lost Doll

The Lost Doll

By Sandy Brown Jensen

When I was a little girl, I was doll crazy. I dressed my dolls obsessively, and I was lucky enough to have an Aunt Mel who loved to make doll clothes for my girls.

I sat them around the picnic table and taught them; and I became a teacher.

I invited them to tea parties and cooked for them in my doll kitchen; and I became an avid home cook and dinner party hostess.

I read to them and became a reader.

I drew with them and became an artist.

What I am now, I learned by acting on The Doll Stage.

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The Way of the Doll quote is from Rainer Maria Rilke, the great German poet who thought quite a bit about dolls. The art is made using the Bazaart app for iPad.

“Am I not right to feel as if I

must stay seated, as if I must wait

before The Doll Stage, or, rather,

gaze at it so intensely that at

last an Angel

has to come and make the stuffed skins startle into life?

Angel and Doll: A real play, finally.”

–Rainer Maria Rilke

My most beloved doll was a Betsy McCall doll. I took her on our family vacation to Glacier National Park. One morning, I got her all dressed for the day’s adventure over the Going to the Sun Highway and arranged her in a little tableau under a huge old oak tree.

The Lost Doll
Lost Betsy. I made this image just this week. At age 65, there is some inner compulsion to return again and again to the scene of the crime; the crime of abandoning a loved one to the wilderness. I began with two of my photographs, collaged it in the Bazaart for iPad app, then used the “Purts” setting in the Virtual Painter app for the painterly quality.

In the kerfluffle of departure, I forgot her until we were high on the pass, and then the parents said it was too late to go back for her. I was heartbroken. My mother, now age 89, has so many times told me one of the few regrets of her well-lived life was that they didn’t go back for Betsy.

In my memory, Betsy is still there, waiting for me. I have returned to Montana three times over the span of the ensuing five decades, and each time I have gone to that tree to look for her. At age 65, there is some inner compulsion to return again and again to the scene of the crime; the crime of abandoning a loved one to the wilderness.

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The Angel of Lost Children. Bazaart collage and “Purts” setting in Virtual Painter.

Why does a doll, an inanimate object, hold such a place of psychic charge, of emotional power on The Doll Stage of my soul? She was my first loss; she went ahead of me and created the Room of Inconsolable Grief that is now always there just off stage. Betsy lives there in the good company of my father and a black dog named Fianna.

Dolls occupy a liminal space between the rational and the irrational, between form and its shadow, between daylight and dream. The psychodramas of childhood doll play became the dark well of Mystery that I draw on daily in my art, in all the details of a passionate life lived for and in art.

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“The Time Travelers Appear Before Me On the Forest Floor.” I made this image this morning in response to the Daily Create challenge to think inside the box for once instead of outside the box. Again, the theme of the lost dolls in the forest spontaneously surfaces. I am on the left, contemplating their appearance once again. Yellow Bird, why do you come?

I return to the theme of dolls again and again in my Mysterious Night Vision Field Journal (soon to be an online class. Stay tuned by subscribing to toucancreate.com, the website for our online art classes.). I find them deeply satisfying. The dolls speak to me of my many interior worlds; they act out on The Doll Stage that is the theatrical doorway to the old growth forest of my mind.

 It turns out that I am the “Angel who startles the stuffed skins into life. Angel and Doll: A real play, finally.”

Angel and Doll: A real play, finally.
“Angel and Doll: A real play, finally.” Bazaart app for iPad.

Are you a doll lover, too? Some people hate dolls and find them creepy–I will write about that next time. Is there something in your life that acts as dolls do for me, as intermediary objects between daylight and the place where you do art, that waking dream?

Please share your thoughts in the comment field below, or the one at the very top of the page–between the two “The Lost Doll” titles where it says “Leave a Comment.”–I’d love to hear from you!

Draw Your Dreams

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“Tree Woman with Fire Sticks” This image was more of a “waking dream” as I drew what spontaneously appeared in my mind’s eye. That is heart and soul of the Mysterious Night Vision Field Journal experience.

Today’s Daily Create is to draw a picture of a place you have been to in your dreams.

I think this activity is a good way to introduce a class that Cheryl Long and I are developing to run at the Toucan Create! Online Art Classes Creativity School sometime early in 2016. It is called The Mysterious Night Vision Field Journal. It is all about using black artist sketch paper, gel pens, and colored pencils to explore memories, dreams, reflections.

It is, in many ways, the opposite of Color Your World. In the Color Your World 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.

Dream Mandala
This is a Dream Mandala in my Mysterious Night Vision Field Journal

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

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In this Dream Mandala I am driving around a dark lake toward a volcano streaming with lava. I have lost my glasses, but I can see them floating in the sky

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.

Do you draw your dreams?