It is not unusual for me to see full blown images behind my eyelids just as I wake up in the morning.
I am not sure if this has to do with the strong light that comes through my window, filtered by our Broad Leaf Maple. Maybe it has to do with an overactive imagination wanting to get to the colored pencils. Are these images teasers to push me toward my black pages and my idea book?
I do not know, but Salvador Dali said that he would not mind solitary confinement because he could spend his life painting the images behind his eyeballs. We share this odd phenomena.
“Acid Green and Manganese Blue” appeared to me as a fabric or woven disc, backlit with brilliant blue. Black Pears hearkens back 15 years to my “black things” series. Art has an uncanny life of its own, and it am amazed when it asserts itself. “Paint Me! Paint me now!!”
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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.
She slowly cycles her way in and out of my dreams, each visit announcing a new chapter in my life. She silently enters the black screen of my night vision from stage right, confidently steering her wobbly, decrepit blue bicycle. She pauses in the spotlight and looks directly into my eyes. Time for change. She lifts her red boxing glove, signifying a fight may be in my near future. She implies that I should do no harm and draw no blood either physically or emotionally.
The Silly Woman shifts her gaze and she wheels the wobbling bike stage left. I wonder, is she silly? She looks silly. Or is she wise?
Limbo of the Mother Venus by Paul Martinson 2009Watercolor, watercolor pencil and gouache on paper
My friend Maria Middlestead purchased this painting and sent methe link to Paul Martinson’s work. Martinson is a famous painter from New Zealand specializing originally in scientific bird illustrations.
Two Black and White Creatures in Trance and Sleep by Paul Martinson 2007Watercolor, watercolor pencil and gouache on paper
Live Trance Performance by Paul Martinson 2009Acrylic and watercolor on paper
Later in his life (and this interesting material from his gallery website): “The artist acquainted himself, at a rudimentary level, with Freud’s concept of the “free flow of ideas” from the subconscious. This idea, with its basis in psychoanalysis, fundamentally informed Psychic Automatism, a method of expression predominantly influencing art and literature in the third decade of the twentieth century.
The Destination of Oblivion by Paul Martinson 2009Watercolor, watercolor pencil and gouache on paper
Psychic Automatism subsequently formed the basis of Andre Breton Surrealist’s Manifesto of 1924. The Manifesto claimed that, “Pure psychic automatism…(meant)…thought dictated in the absence of all control exerted by reason, and outside any aesthetic or moral preoccupation.”
The Creatures Must Sleep by Paul Martinson 2009Watercolor, watercolor pencil and gouache on paper
While Martinson acknowledges that it is impossible to give oneself over entirely to the “flow of information” from the subconscious uncensored by the intellect, he attempts to work by intuition alone without censoring on the basis of reason, scale and anatomical accuracy.
“Automatic drawing for me is a personal thing, but has in common with its origins in the Surrealist movement, a “sanctioned” right to draw spontaneously without conscious reference to normality, morality and social taboos…it is an attempt to allow a ” free flow” of imagery and ideas as a painter. I feel such freedom is an important aspect of personal expression.”
2009Watercolor, watercolor pencil, gold foil and gouache on paper
For this artist, it is as if his subconscious is filled to overflowing with myriad experiences, thoughts and ideas around the depiction of birds, both extinct and existing, and they will make their presence felt. Martinson believes we are therefore, at any time the sum of our entire experience which includes on one hand the connections we make throughout our life with all other creatures on the planet, even fleetingly (this comprises the great range of relationships we make), everyday experience, and the swirling, interlocking personal reality of our subconscious, and all that it comprises.
Therefore, at the end of a decade of painting birds objectively they continue to dominate current work, although in contexts far removed from their purely representational origins – often in isolation, but more often, with a Venus figure.” (Source: Sanderson Contemporary Art Online Gallery)
As a viewer, I respond on two levels to Martinson’s work. I respond as a birdwatcher, as an admirer of fine bird illustration to his scientific renderings. I respond as a poet and a dreamer to the staged psychodramas caught in the halflight between worlds of waking and sleeping. Each painting is an illustration from a story I seem to be telling myself that is too deep and too important to lose.
Dream Mandala of My Father Entering the Museum of the Dead. Mom and Me at a Cafe in Paris, One Empty Chair, Both Sun and Moon
December 3, 2008 (From a in-class exercise in my Linfield College Creative Writing class Fall 2008. We tracked our dreams all semester, then chose one particular image to express in a mandala and a write.)
Pothole May 18, 2008
Peter and I are driving in our Subaru on a local highway—I am at the wheel. The asphalt begins to get rough, so I low down. There’s plenty of traffic, all slowing. Some people are driving off the road out into the fields, apparently on detour.
Now we see why: an enormous impact crater has destroyed the road. The river has run into it, filling it with deep and dangerous pools. This isn’t a pothole you can drive across, although we see people driving out on dead end ledges, unable to get back.
I propose one route, but Peter points out the steep drop on the other side. He gets out to look around and goes to talk to someone. An official waves his arms and opens a way for my column of cars. I inch forward, thinking Peter will see me and follow, but the traffic and the crowds of people on foot increase and I lose sight of him.
On the other side, I pick up two men; one drives and the other sits in the back seat, and we inch along through traffic, then suddenly we’re passed the crater and moving free. But where is Peter?
“Stop! Go back! We have to find Peter! I order the man driving. My body is flooded wth urgency and anxiety.
“I’m not going back there! Hitchhikers have rights, too, you know! He replied, not slowing.
“Turn back! Turn back! I have to find Peter!” I beat on his muscled arm and wrench the wheel in a circle so that he is forced out the door, and I take over the wheel.
I turn back the way we had come, re-entering the chaos of the crater blast zone. People are milling around in a panic. I ump out of the car and try to find a familiar face or an official and finally spot someone. “Have you seen Peter? Do you know wich way he went?”
“Oh, yes,” she said, “I saw he ran into an old acquaintance of his, Glasses Larimer. They went off together.”
“Do you know where Glasses lives? Tell me!”
“Oh, if he went off with Glasses, you’ll never find him.”
I look again at the crater and its green, cold depths blocking the road.