Wednesday, August 1, 2007
Images within Images
Well, this has functioned as a dream diary from time to time, so here goes; the one I woke up to this morning seems to point a valuable life lesson and as such almost certainly came straight from the Collective Unconscious.
In this dream, I've moved into a new house, and there is an alcove in this house where I have decided to take up painting again, breaking out the paints and brushes I haven't touched for some time. There is a huge canvas I am working on. It's tall and rectangular and I can't exactly tell what the foreground is -- it's a woman I think, a portrait, but the woman is also, somehow, a tree -- but in the background, there are numeous paintings hanging, so the painting has paintings within it. I am painting in big, impressionist strokes. The colors are very bright.
Suddenly, a woman is beside me, working on another painting. It is a writer with whom I have collaborated in the past and who I am sort of estranged from, though lately there has been some conciliation. She too is painting. She is dressed in black and her movements seem to shadow my movements.
Suddenly, while my back is turned, she is painting on my painting. "You haven't framed the pictures inside the pictures properly!" she scolds me, and using an enormous brush paints huge black rectangles in, which completely dominate the painting. "No, no!" I protest. "I never use completely black paint. I always use a little bit of color." I squeeze brown from the tube, use a little blood-red mixed in, and I start to cover up the black. The picture hangs together more, the colors blend better. Then I use a small bottle of greenish yellow paint which has already begun to separate out from the emulsion and using a tiny brush whose hairs are practically rock hard, I dip it into the mix and add small strokes to the brown over black, animating the brown and bringing it to life.
"Clean your brushes!" my companion objects. "When you leave them uncleaned that long, they are useless." I agree with her. I say, "I might as well get a fresh new set."
Suddenly, I see that the right side of my painting contains an entire column of paintings within the painting that have been sketched only in charcoal outline, not colored in at all. This is brand new material to work on. I wonder if I should paint them only in monochrome, but I change my mind.
I wonder whether it would be good to cover the entire painting in a veil of white spray paint, adding a gauzy dreamlike texture to the entire painting.
This is a dream that reveals things about the future of my artistic career on numerous Jungian levels. The big tall rectangular painting is clearly my life. The shadowy, unidentifiable woman that is the subject of the painting is clearly the Anima which makes the painting a self-portrait. The fact that she is a tree (indeed the Tree of Life) is some kind of of qabbalistic allusion, I think; so I wouldn't be surprised if there were exactly twenty-two branches (and paintings hanging from them). The new paintings yet to be filled in on the right side are obviously future works of art. The woman working beside me is part Anima, part Shadow when she smears my work with black and also delineates the paintings individually with frames, cutting them off from blending with the entire work. The dream says no, everything you have created is part of the same big picture.
Covering up the black is in a way about internalizing (and absorbing) my inner darkness ... it is exactly like the dream I once had about the woman in red, the white piano, and the ape (I will talk about this dream some time).
I don't, by the way, paint much, although I have had one art show before....