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DREAM CREATION IN THE ARTS, AND THE DELICACY OF CREATIVITY



About three weeks ago I started thinking about lucid dreaming and keeping a record of my dreams. I first wanted to understand what it was (which is: being conscious that you are inside a dream, dreaming, and sometimes or often being able to influence the direction of a dream including manipulating a product or speaking to a dream person or character; note that this is different from normal dreaming).


Then I began to wonder about its usefulness? Other than for entertainment, why bother? And what differences could it make versus normal dreaming in terms of what we remember and what we make out of our remembered dreams?


THE POSSIBLE BENEFITS OF LUCID DREAMING IN THE ARTS


I wondered if lucid dreaming was practical? Could it assist in developing a specific skill such as playing a piano or golf, or even improving the richness in complexity of the image and form of my poetry? Could it actually deliver a design of a musical or painting composition or craft that could be developed inside the dream, and then taken outside into the real world and reworked to completion, if not perfection?


I'm by now fairly sure the answer to the first two questions is "yes". However, the jury is still out on the last question. It still seems to me that the process to translate a dream design into product reality is an automatic but not intentional one that can be learned. But I could be wrong. Most authors are no more specific than Richard Waggoner ("Lucid Dreaming Plain and Simple" with Caroline McCready): "Incredibly, the outer world responds and confirms this process [of lucid dreaming]."


Two former blogs preliminarily explored these topics as I continued reading and learning both from books and online, and discussing the matter with artistic friends. I have been searching for an artist who has had a lucid dream that results in a real life art product, but have found none so far.


NORMAL DREAMING AND THE ARTS


It's common knowledge that a number of fine artists (think S. Dali and da Vinci) and musicians (think Brahms and McCartney) have sourced designs for their crafts, compositions or melodies, or fine art from a dream. I have yet been able to determine with certainty if those dreams were lucid or not.


I have identified two of my artist friends who have had lucid dreams but neither has had a particular project designed, manipulated, or carried into reality. One is my friend Jeanette Stringham Vonier, an awesome fine art photographer and artist whose experiences (I summarized in my just-previous blog.


Recently I spoke at length with Jordan Hines, my accomplished fine artist friend and an amazing watercolorist of fabulous style in composition and execution using this medium. I pursued the topic of creativity and lucid dreaming as well as normal dreaming. We also discussed courage in the act of creating.


While he has experienced lucid dreams, the design realized in the ring pictured on this page, was dreamed normally. Even if not the product of lucid dreaming, Jordan's ring design and how it influenced a subsequent normal dreaming design, are interesting examples of how an artistic product can result from dreaming.


At the age of twelve and in his 7th grade jewelry class, Jordan dreamed a spiraling ribbon design then crafted a ring that incorporated the design. His art teacher didn't seem to understand the unusual design or what he was trying to do. However, he proceeded and cast the ring to about a 95% completion.


Fast forward almost 50 years, and a few years ago Jordan (now in his early 60s) took the ring to a jeweler friend in Nevada. Together they completed his ring which is pictured on this page.


One day in 1991 Jordan dreamed of a car wheel -- with the very same design as in his ring! When he awoke he made a pencil drawing of it which he believes could be computer printed into reality today (and he would be happy to share this drawing that he filed away, when he finds it).  He had that dream for many months and then the frequency of repeated dreams faded. He has not seen any car wheel design like the one he dreamed at that time, nor to this day.


THE DELICACY OF CREATIVITY


We ended the morning's conversation thinking more broadly than just about lucid dreaming, as we tend to do in our always-vibrant artistic and political discussions. I wanted to know more about the source of his amazing life-long, productive creativity since childhood, not only in fine art but, now as I know, in crafting and industrial design. I wondered how it was that Jordan has such a deep and long-lived wellspring of creativity in his waking ideas and dreaming inspirations?


His quick answer was because he had "no boundaries" when he was growing up, at least as far as when it came to creating art of many kinds. His parents didn't discourage his artistic efforts or experiments  and apparently his 7th grade teacher's lukewarm response to his ring did not daunt him. No one ever said he couldn't do it or that it couldn't be done, thus he was free to complete his vision.


That freedom has served Jordan well in creating art all his life, and by now he has learned some internal resources that protect him from taking to heart criticism that only seeks to limit his creativity.


We agreed that we should create art without limits, yet with one requirement of responsibility and kindness: that of being empathetic to the experienced realities and sensitivities of some individuals and some topics that have traumatized them and may do so today. Violence is one such topic which we both agreed may not always be the right thing to depict in a certain way, or even at all in art; it's not a black-and-white matter. (To be fair, Jordan says he has a lot more to say on that topic, but that is for another day).


Regarding creativity, once when I was seven years old, I painted a landscape with a green sky and a blue-leafed tree. My mom immediately asked me "what color is the sky, Ann?" to which I correctly relied "blue." She nodded approvingly. Then she asked the same regarding leaves and again, I correctly answered "green". Then she looked at me as if she wanted something else, which was nothing short of an apology.


I remember first being curious at her questions, and then feeling shame in "doing something wrong" according to my mom. As Jordan reminded me, the word "No" is powerful and can stop a highly artistically-attuned and trusting individual from ever creating again.  However, not only words but looks can be powerful, too. (I did not change the colors nor re-paint the picture! Guess I had a stubborn streak?)


Since I remember those distressing feelings to this very day, 70 years later, that tells me that it was a significant childhood event, one that reduced my creativity and daunted my creative muse most of my life, but gratefully, not for all of it!


More's the pity of my experience, but I've not looked back in agony or regret; "life is what it is" as my bff Robby would say. In fact I vigorously defend the seriousness of my commitment to music, piano lessons, poetry, and watercoloring in late life, and doing just as I darned well please about them all.


With a vengeance when I was about to retire, I launched into fine art classes a few years before the pandemic and painted like mad (and met Jordan). After retirement I launched into music mid-2020. I started piano lessons again on my high school spinet, Ms. Bellamy pictured here, and a year later I played for two hours the gorgeous mini-concert grand Bosendorfer ("Sir B.") belonging to my neighbor friend, Joe. Sir B is pictured below with his kitty, Rocket. Four days later I was seized with the idea that I had to have my own grand piano.

My partner Ron and Joe joined me in a search for four months, then with advice, helped create (rebuild) The Duchess, my gorgeous little Steinway M, whose original disheveled 1927 shell my composer friend Bruce had located. And regarding my new urge in 2020 to write poetry, by now I've published two volumes and am seeking readers of the Advance Readers Copy of Vol. III (email rhapsody.dmb@gmail.com if interested).


While lucid dreaming remains, well, in a dreamlike fuzzy state to me, what's crystal clear is that pursuing creativity sourced from any wellspring of truth and kindness, at any age or stage of life, is an uplifting and rewarding process for anyone!


Below is one of Jordan's self portraits ("New Doo N Shopping Therapy", l.), a painting of Fawn (r.), and an amazing 2013 painting of a Cambodian boy ("He can see more than you",c.). That picture and what he says about it speak for Jordan's kindness in his very being:


"This is a rather special piece that I painted, it has a lot of meaning to me and is very important. This is the very latest work I have completed and I did it all last night during the Oscars. It took about 6 hours last night and about ½ hour with color correction and fine tuning this morning. The reference photo was taken just about a year ago in a Cambodian School. I never went there; I only saw a picture of this boy. I was very moved by the photo and story I was told and I want to do something for and about it. Ironic that the boy is blind and will never see this painting or read this text. I want to help him"



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