Sunday, February 22, 2015

A Portrait

The Dream: A woman and I are sitting at a table, across from each other. We're each drawing portraits, straight-on heads. I am the teacher. She's very skillful; my criticism of her work is that it lacks feeling. I take her drawing and, with her permission, make corrections. I change the mouth, making it a vibrant pink and somewhat pouty, or sensual. My other criticism is that the portrait is vague: it's very soft and lacks definition, with one color bleeding into the next.

Interpretation: The Unconscious gives me a drawing lesson! The artist I'm instructing in this dream reminds me of an egg tempera painter who wanted to meet me; she came to my house as an acolyte. When she showed me her paintings it was clear that she was highly skilled—more so than I—in handling the medium. Yet she was not satisfied with her work because, she said, it lacked imagination. This was true. As with many painters, her skill exceeded her conception. Yet she loved painting, and enjoyed her chosen subject matter. Of course I complimented her skill. I said that it only made sense for her to do what resonated with her. I suggested keeping a dream journal if she wanted to develop some original ideas.

In the dream I admire the artist's skill but feel she needs more expression, as symbolized by my “fixing” the mouth, the organ of speech. So the message for me is, of course to express myself.

When I tried drawing the face this artist drew in the dream I learned something about how to use color pencils—that is, very softly and delicately, building up color with gentle iterations. I tend to jump to the finish immediately, and that can make me heavy-handed, a hard thing to recover from! So the dream taught me this about self-expression: take it easy; let it develop; don't jump in with too much clarity and definition. The things I criticize in the dream artist are exactly what I need to do.

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