Monday, September 28, 2015

Learning My Limits

Many dreams are about work. Sometimes they can solve a problem that your waking mind couldn't.
The Dream: Someone is looking through my artwork, rejecting most of it. Some pieces he “doesn't get;” others he dislikes for technical reasons. Finally he comes to a grayscale painting, an under-painting that is finished as far as its values go, but has no chroma. He almost likes this one. He still doesn't “get it:” the subject, based in dream or myth, eludes him, but he likes the pieces formal qualities: composition and value. I haven't paid too much attention to his criticism, but I have an aha at this one. “Oh,” I say, “ I should limit my color palette, perhaps to 3 colors.” I am excited about trying this and think it will improve my painting.

Interpretation: I am working on a painting that has become fraught with color and design problems I find I like more simplicity and organization in my designs now, and don't think I can rescue this one from its chaos. I started it as an experimental piece, and the dream tells me to let it go—to learn the lesson it's teaching and move on.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Making Room for All

Dreams are grounded in your day-to-day life. If you take a look at what you've been up to recently, you'll get some good clues about the meaning of your dream.
The Dream: I'm in a large house, and many young boys are sleeping, dormitory style, in my bedroom. The other bedrooms are full, and a couple has just arrived who need a place. I revisit the sleeping arrangements, and as I do, my bedroom turns into a vast field, with the boys' beds, now chaises longues, lined up against an embankment.  I see I have all the room I need after all, and I suggest that we move the boys' beds back in and put the couple in an area to my right. I a choose a spot near the door for myself in case I want to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. It  seems that this new arrangement makes room for all, with some privacy, and it's comfortable.

I had a lot of activities going on when I had this dream. They were things I was happy about and wanted to do, but how to make room for all? The dream reflects in a simple and graphic way my attempt to fit together many interests, and shows me a solution: I need to do some rearranging. There are a couple of new things (the pair that just arrived) that I need to make room for. I also need to be sure I leave myself a path for release, or self-expression (the bathroom).

The boys (new undertakings that require some care because they aren't fully developed) and the color I unconsciously chose for the drawing (green) hint at the growth my new interests promise.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

How to Start Sketching Your Dream

If you think it would be fun to sketch a dream, but don't have a clue how to get started, this post is for you. Here's a simple way to give it a go.

  1. Think about your dream. Don't try to interpret it, just keep the narrative in mind. In this approach you'll be guided by your unconscious. Each step will lead to the next.
  2. Start doodling on a piece of blank paper with a light colored marker. Don't pay a bit of attention to what you're doing.
  3. When you feel you've doodled enough, use some stronger colors to emphasize some sections of your doodle. This is when I added the areas of solid red and black to  the example above. I layered a couple of colors in the red section while I waited for the color to feel right. Then the intensity of the red felt as if it needed to be balanced by filling in the shape near the bottom of the page with black.
  4. If any of the shapes suggest something to you, put in some details that make that suggestion clear. In this example, the inner shape suggested to me a body falling into an abyss so I gave it some facial features and hands. Then the hands began to look like birds, so each one got an eye.
  5. Now the illustration wanted something that felt lighter, so I began to decorate it with the squiggly black marks near the top.
  6. Finally, the strong black at the bottom demanded to be balanced by a heavy black line at the top.

The most important part of the exercise is not to judge what you're doing as you do it. If you can let that critical parent/teacher part of yourself go, you'll be able to get into the process and I bet you'll find it enjoyable. It might shed some light on your dream's meaning, too.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Boy Baby

Your dream will often have a back story; don't be too quick to think you've pinned down its meaning. Most of the time you will need to lift more than one veil.

The Dream: My daughter has had a baby. She arrives at my house with her husband and hands me the baby, who has a crabby little face. Nevertheless, I gladly receive the child. After a few moments I realize I don't even know the baby's sex. I ask, and my daughter tells me it's a boy. I am slightly disappointed and say, “I'm not sure I know what to do with a boy.” All my experience has been with girls.

I seem to be in charge of the creature; he goes everywhere in my arms. If he cries, I wonder, will I hand him back to his mom as most people do with a baby? My daughter is glowing, very happy. She looks very thin, and I'm concerned. She tells me she weights 150 pounds: is that enough? “You don't look it,” I say.

Even though I'm  enjoying holding him, part of me is concerned that I'll get saddled with this child to raise. I wonder if my daughter will leave him with me and go along her merry way, unencumbered. I don't think I can take on children at this point. One quiet baby is one thing; a couple of active toddlers would be exhausting.

Interpretation: The day before I had this dream I had a visit from a friend cataloging a list of recent losses: one of her aunts had died as well as a very good friend. Being presented in waking life with her pain made me question my ability to nurture her. Part of me wanted to fob off the responsibility; someone else should be taking care of her. As long as the “baby” is quiet I can manage; if he becomes activated it's too much!

What's behind this unwillingness to comfort and console, to take care of a friend? My own “baby”that becomes activated in this situation is the underlying thing that frightens me. An incident that coincided with the visit from my friend was the more important dream trigger. We found three dead birds on our property, all victims of the neighbor's cats. Seeing the mangled birds brought back memories of seeing dead baby bird fetuses as a child. At the time it upset my child sensibility terribly, and the dream reminds me, once again, why it's difficult to deal with another's pain: it taps into my own reservoir.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Messenger

One reason it's a good idea to illustrate your dreams is that the illustration itself will elaborate on your unconscious process. Don't think about the illustration too much as you do it; follow the dictates of your unconscious. Once you've created your illustration--a doodle, a mandala, a collage, whatever you feel like--look at the shapes and colors for more information. 

The Dream: I am in a Victorian house, standing in its large, high-ceiling entry. The bell rings, and through the door's frosted glass I see a messenger holding a fat manila envelope. I open the door to take it. I think he's going to leave, but instead he pounds on the door, cracking it, and then extends one hand through the hole he's made. At first I think he's about to give me “the finger.” Instead, he grabs me, forcing himself in. As he attacks me I scream for Clark. I know he's not in the house, but I'm hoping that if the intruder thinks he is he will be frightened off. I awaken in terror.

Interpretation: This dreadful dream ushered in my birthday. I'm being giving a message in a very forceful way. Will I get it? The frosted glass hints at my lack of clarity. The “finger” reminded me of these lines from The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam:
The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.
My conscious awareness, here represented by Clark, is not at home. The dream is pointing to something deeply unsettling that's important for me to grasp. The timing, on my birthday eve, tells me this issue is a matter of “life or death”-- metaphorically—for me: I must come to terms with my mortality. The colors I unconsciously chose to illustrate the dream tell me where I am in my acceptance of my inevitable death. I'm in a gray and black space (not happy with the idea), but the messenger and his space are green, the color of growth. At some point I'll be able to accept my part in the cycle of life.