Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Sources of Inspiration 1/5: Dreams

Sometimes people say to me "I'd like to get inside your head for a day, how do you get your ideas?" My 8 minute talk for Conceptually Bound 3 tried to answer that question. I have greatly expanded it into 5 blog posts. Each post deals with one way I find inspiration. Most of the books I use to illustrate these posts were included in the two CB shows I have participated in. The exceptions are Bear With Me, included in this post, Dream Focusing Device and Instruction Manual for the Moon II, included in post number four. All the books are linked to my website, where you can see them in more detail.

My dreams are my main source of inspiration. I try to write them down every morning. I go through periods of not being able to remember them, and periods of remembering 3 or 4 in a fair amount of detail. Every night before I go to sleep, I say to myself "I want to remember my dreams when I wake." and "I want to write down my dreams when I wake." I use an inexpensive Mead 9.5 x 6 notebook and a ball point pen.

In the morning I write my dreams as soon as I wake, using the first words that come into my head. I also make at least one quick sketch. It helps to keep my eyes closed most of the time, to see the images I'm trying to remember. It's important to honor the dream, by reporting it carefully and not judging the content. I have had a few alarming dreams, where I commit crimes, but I pay more attention to my feelings during the dream than the actions. It's important to keep these dream records private, at least in the beginning. Parts of my dreams are revealed in my artist's books, but there are parts I reserve for me. After a period of having the most mundane dreams you can imagine, a crisis in my life, or a book or movie, will spark dreams that have meaningful content. It's also sometimes possible to remind myself that I want to have interesting dreams, or dreams about a certain subject.

We can see by starlight ©1998, 8 x 8 x 1/2 inches.
This book illustrates an all-time favorite dream. My son and I are riding through the landscape in a car that changes into a bicycle.

Pages 11 and 12 of We can see by starlight.
We see a woman with stick hair, then she turns into a bird. I simplified the image on this page. In the actual dream she was hopping around on a picnic table.

Pages 16 and 17 of We can see by starlight.
In the end of the dream, we ride into the stars, so I used the star background throughout the book. In the case of this dream, I have an idea of what it's about, but have decided not to "reveal all." I feel comfortable showing the world the pictures, but several scenes and the complete meaning of the dream remain private. This helps me to remember more detail in the dreams, and allows the dreams to be a dialog between my waking mind and other parts of me.

The Findings of the Expedition to an Unknown Land by Ludmilla Paulsdotter ©2005, 8 x 7 x 3 inches.
This one was originally sparked by a big box of old photos I bought on ebay. When I had them spread out on my work table I realized I could line them up along the horizon line and make a kind of narrative. The project really became compelling when I started including dreamy imagery. Only a few actual dream images are included in this book, but I used dream-like imagery throughout.

The Findings of the Expedition to an Unknown Land by Ludmilla Paulsdotter ©2005, 8 x 7 x 3 inches.
This spread shows the dream that is the heart of the book. People in my family journey in a boat in the sky.

The Findings of the Expedition to an Unknown Land by Ludmilla Paulsdotter ©2005, 8 x 7 x 3 inches.
I like to balance the seriousness of my thoughts with a touch of humor.

Bear With Me, ©2008, 5.5 x 4.5 x 1.5
To illustrate this one, I used dreams, childhood memories and objects from our house that have powerful memories. They all have a bear in them. I dream about bears occasionally. I know they are important in American Indian thought. And I love the idea that they are powerful spirit figures. But in working on this book, I decided for me they may represent my animus. Of course imagery can simultaneously have many meanings that are equally valid.

Bear With Me
In this dream some friends and I are threatened by a man with a bow and arrows. We become bears and walk down a long white hall. I hope the guy won't shoot us in the back. He doesn't.

Bear With Me
Here I used phrases from a number of my dreams about stars because I wanted to include Ursa Major in the book. Just as I finished this book I dreamed about a huge sleeping bear. I wanted to poke it and make it come after me. I wasn't afraid, and as I woke, I was about to poke it.

April 20: I added more informational titles for the books and a better explanation of the talk.

1 comment:

ArtPropelled said...

Lovely post. I love hearing about what makes different artists tick.