Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Dreams and the Psyche of the Artist

This month's blog is a continuation from last month of commentary on the Dream Series illustrations available on Society6 and RedBubble as wall art, clothing, iphones, homedecor, bags and sundry other items. Once again, I have chosen to concentrate on the original view of the artwork for sake of emphasizing the story. 

As with the artwork from last month, I am working on the Dream Series in hopes of creating art that is more of a personal expression than my other designs may have been. I dream vividly, and have long been fascinated by dream imagery of my own or others. Dreams are deeply personal, yet may indeed have archetypes that many dream of. Everyone has their own take. I hope to showcase my vision here.

Circle Gateway Dream

"Here I am at the tram stop again. There is a city gate, made of stone, but reflective like metal. The scene always has an element from an amusement park. I recall the spirit of my mother."

Another dream setting I have is European as European can be, but I'm never sure what city it is. My gut feeling is that it's Vienna, Austria, and I think I'm traveling by way of Hannover, Germany. The main obvious thing in the dream is that I've been riding on a tram (my trams can travel through different countries!), and there is a stop on a curved section of track that lets off right by a city gate, which is notably metallic, although made of stone. There are lots of bright colors and a feeling that I'm in an amusement park - hence the carousel. Sometimes it is the famous Viennese Ferris Wheel. BTW - this is sold on RedBubble, where the automatic German translator decided to translate "merry-go-round" directly. Doesn't work!!! When I have this dream I awaken with lingering thoughts about my mother - good thoughts - probably the wish that we could've travelled together more.

Dry Cleaner Horror

"The dry cleaner had an immense building, but only a small service space. What was the extra room used for? Surely terrible things were going on unseen. Mangling, steam, and such - an array of contraptions too hideous to be shown. With ill luck, one would hang in the relayer, as if hung out to dry."

This one. In this case I took a horrible dream and changed the viewpoint, making a somewhat comical end product. In the dream, I am the one hung up, and I can't get off the hanger. I am left to go round and round the interior of the dry cleaner's forever. It may sound innocent, but there's a dangerous steaming and mangling process to go through, and I can't get off the relayer!!!! Not fun. The relayer also goes really far off the ground at some point - something which is also unpleasant to me. As soon as height was reached, the hanger would start to jiggle, trying to let me loose, but at that height it would have been quite a fall. It was no doubt inspired to trips on errands to pick up cleaning when I was little and didn't understand much about the cleaners, other than that lots of hot, uncomfortable processes were involved. Here I went more for a feeling of how odd it would be to see someone *in* one of the hanging suits! 

The Dreaded Aqueduct

“Complete darkness. In a blast of consciousness, I find myself atop an ancient aqueduct. I am solidly aware of the wind blowing around me and the impossible height I find myself at. The stone blocks are crumbling, but water still flows. The landscape is achingly beautiful. I dream of an aqueduct.”

For the life of me, I cannot figure out why I have a phobia of canals and aqueducts, but they completely weird me out. At least I have seen a few canals. I have never seen an aqueduct that I can recall, and I had this dream starting at a young age. It still pops into my head every now and again. Sometimes I'm terrified, and other times I just enjoy the view, while resigning myself to being stuck. I never actually see the water above me, but it's an aqueduct after all, so it's there. I feel like I can hear it flowing above me. The view is of a lush green landscape in mountainous terrain. The feeling of wind is very distinct, and it makes the height I'm at seem even more dizzying. The aqueduct spans such a wide area that my thoughts of trying to cross it bear little fruit.

Eclipse Dream

"Pinhole camera and special glasses in hand, we head to the field. The birds prepare for sundown, unaware of nature's plot. I wonder if this is a time of change, brought about by partial darkness. I know there's no answer, but a wonderful eclipse."

Sometimes I dream of the solar eclipse that took place during junior high school, way back when. It was a moving experience, but the setting was awful. We awkward early-teens got to go out to the asphalt bus loading area beside our remodeled 1950's school, and use the pinhole cameras we had fastidiously made in class. At least I think it was in class. Maybe homework??? We all wished we could be outside for the entire experience, of course, but the powers that be had it times down to the height of the event. I took liberties with the setting of this picture, for artistic purposes. It was a different experience then. No internet. No "eclipse viewing glasses." No digital cameras. And life was slower then too..... That in a way stays true with the eclipse. The moon passes at it's own lumbering pace, but that 2 minute period where the movement becomes very obvious is exhilarating.  

Crossroads Guardian Dream

"A guardian watcher spirit at the crossroads fends off those unworthy of passage to the next realm. An all seeing, all powerful gaze, warding away evil. I must pass through the crossing before achieving any forward movement. the shots from the statuary are fierce. I must lay low and go forth."

I had this dream repeatedly at a terrible time in my life, when I seemed to be beset upon by all sides. The road in the dream was at an intersection between my place of work and my home. In my dream, the intersection had Chinese Lion statuary that wasn't there in real life. As best as I can tell, the Guardian character was inspired by an old set of tarot cards, whose name and artist I have unfortunately lost track of. Please rest assured that the Guardian here is meant to be a powerful image of spiritual truth and the safe-keeping thereof. His gaze emits light and energy flows forth through his fingertips. I have no idea about those lions, but that the Guardian was also fending them off!!! All I know is it's a drag when laser beams are threatening to decimate you. It's like "Big Trouble in Little China" or something. Very bizarre and nothing of the sort was anywhere in my midst in real life. 

2nd Grade Play Dream

"It was 2nd grade, time for the school play. We were to make the set, along with a huge, scaley dragon, from a sheet and some tempera. I felt I had a purpose more meaningful than most school subjects, to make the beast who lived on an island. The hallway transformed."

This is a very happy dream whose setting recurs now and then. I believe it was 2nd grade (possibly 3rd, but I don't think so), when it was time for our class to make a play of a childrens' book we had been reading. We were divided into actors, prop actors, and set makers. I got to be one of the lucky ones (in my mind) who got to work on the set. I remember the story was about a dragon who lived on an island. As we busied ourselves making palm trees, and bushes, the teacher led a few in creating what seemed like a massive head for the dragon. As time went on, we could hear the actors practicing their lines. I remember this distinctly, because the narrator always said "is-land" instead of "i-land," and that word came up often. The teacher unfurled sheeting, and we kids attacked the cloth with tempera to make scales. The teacher bade us all to be careful with the paint, but of course some was spilled. I honestly don't remember the play, but in the dream I'm happily painting scales and imagining what a ferocious beastie this would be.

Those are the features for this month's blog installation. I will continue on with the series, as long as the muse hits. I'd love to hear your comments! Stay tuned for more. I also added a few patterns, which are very happy matches with S6 home decor and RedBubble fashion. Surf on by for Mela threads.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Dream Series, Horror and Fantasy Illustrations and Stories

Nothing but a Dreamer

Welcome to this month's blog, presenting a collection of drawings which I am calling "The Dream Series." This will most likely be an ongoing project, because I am quite the dreamer. I wanted to make my artwork a bit more personal, and what could be more personal than dreams? Nobody else is going to have your dream, right? Although I admittedly have more nightmares than pleasant dreams, I am doing my best to balance sides one for one, for sake of highlighting that my life is not just a nightmare! Some of these were recurring dreams, and others were singular occurrences that made a lasting impression. I decided to couple many of the images with text in the graphic to give a bit of a bigger explanation as to the content of the dream. 

All of the artwork below is available on Society6 and RedBubble on many products, including fun fashion (sans text) and home decor. I am not sharing product images this time, because I would like the emphasis to be on the original view of the artwork, as it is available for wall art. I invite you to see if you can relate to any of the dreams below, or if they stir something within you. It's an interesting exercise in psychology. 

Dream Series Introduction

Dream Series Introduction - Susan Phillips Hicks

Hi! It's me! This is my fourth-ever self portrait. Folks say it is accurate. My third-ever self portrait wasn't quite so successful, although I have been told it catches part of my essence. My husband accused me of making it look like Mick Jagger. So, yes, I figured if I was going to show my dreams, I'd have to show the dreamer. Don't let the grey hair throw you! I'm younger than that! I got my first grey hair when I was 9, if that tells you anything. As for the text, it's always impressive when you wake up from a dream and can point exactly in your life as to what has inspired it, and possibly what your subconscious is trying to tell you. Of course other dreams are complete nonsense, but always interesting. 

Beach Dream

Beach Dream - Susan Phillips Hicks

A cold, desolate, icky dream, where you're hardly there, and stuck on an isolated shore, staring out at ominous, pulsating rocks, that somehow put forth a threatening energy. In my dream, the water has more of a lake feel than the ocean. The dream image is not quite so foggy, and the water is placid, but it feels so cold! I had to bring this out in the drawing somehow. Was I successful? That was the dream. A lingering scene.

When Girls Fly

When Girls Fly - Susan Phillips Hicks

"I lived at the top of a hill. I would run down the street. The wind was formidable, and I felt I could walk with my body leaning into it. If I could do this, I could certainly take flight with an umbrella.... Certainly.... An exhilarating feeling. I was free as a bird."

A vivid dream from my youth, featuring my childhood street and a celebration of bright, windy March days. I lived at the top of a hill, and it was always sooooo tempting to run down it, sometimes with adverse results (see text in pic). I would raise my umbrella, wait for a blast of wind, jump into it like a hang-glider and lift off to fly above my town and onwards, outwards to the bigger world. The dream was happy, but full of adrenaline at managing such a feat. Would I stay airborne? Sometimes I'd float back to Earth, but with a proper pounce, could fly higher again. I'd say at that age multiple viewings of Mary Poppins inspired me! :)

Lampshade Man Fright

Lampshade Man Fright - Susan Phillips Hicks

"He returned night after night to haunt me, until one night when I pulled the lamp chain and turned off his light. He never returned." 

Horrible. Horrible. Horrible. Horrible. This evil apparition would come out of the walk-in closet in my bedroom as a girl and threaten death and destruction, every night. I ran. That was all I could do. Every night I ran to the other end of the house and ended up in my parents' bathroom, where I could successfully lock the door (and wake up). Completely terrifying and haunting. I dreaded going to sleep, it was so bad. But I'm a sly cookie, and eventually I noticed I could get a step or two ahead. The dream changed slowly, and I did my best to gain an advantage with each further dreaming. Finally, one night, who knows how long later, I had the presence of mind to distract Mr. Lampshade Man by pointing to the ceiling. He looked up and I pulled the chain on his lamp-head to turn his light off. His light turned off, and he collapsed to the ground. Streamers and balloons fell from the ceiling. I awoke, never to have the dream again. 



"When I saw U2 before I saw U2 I was Bono. A very strange position to be in. I felt godlike, but was also trepidatious that I might fall of the riser. Later on at the actual concert, from the audience, everything seemed so familiar. I realized I had truly been seeing the stage from his vantage point."

So I used to have dreams about U2, or more specifically, Bono - either just hanging with Bono or being Bono (not something I think I'd really ever want!!!!). I had a dream where "I" was at a show rehearsal and was mainly worried about learning the stage layout, so's not to fall off a riser. In another dream "I" was pressed up against a display in concert and feeling very infatuated by a belly dancer. (??) The dreams were colorful. Bono was an okay guy to hang out with. The plot thickened later when I went to see U2's Elevation tour live. I realized it was the same stage set up as in my dream, and I had apparently been seeing it from Bono's point of view. I had never seen pics of the stage or show before showing up at the concert. Later in the show, Bono did the wall pose with the image of a belly dancer up on the megascreen. Very strange. Very true. ---- PS This drawing is not for sale. Ickiness from Live Nation has hindered me! 

Sick Again - Scary Clown

Sick Again - Scary Clown - Susan Phillips Hicks

"Sick again. The escalator is speeding unavoidably upwards. The demented clown looms, cackling, at the top. Why does this always happen after Abbott and Costello?"

Another recurring nightmare from my youth. It happened every time I got sick, and kids are sick a lot. It was also in combination with watching old shows by Abbott and Costello while I was home from school. I'd be getting shoved on a rickety old escalator, going way too fast, with walls on either side, opening up at the landing to THAT!!!!! - this clown that would be tiny, but for a big, crazy, laughing head with awful, jagged teeth! And he was always laughing diabolically. The head was round, just like a tennis ball, and clown-face white, but for the shocks of orange hair and clown-mouth make-up. And onward I sped! Sometimes the area would be in flames, sometimes otherwise, but the clown was a constant. It is evident to me now that Bozo was the inspiration for this dream. It was so scary that recently when I loaded a Facebook picture of a girl playing with a Bozo punching bag, I shrieked! - all these years later. 

Dreaming the Muse

Dreaming the Muse - Susan Phillips Hicks

"Sometimes I dream without seeing. I dream of music I have never heard before. It is a song as beautiful as a vivid butterfly. One that only exists for me. The instruments are ethereal and not of this world. Is it my muse? Such beauty, but like a butterfly, it flies away and leaves me to reality."

Another sort of self-portrait. How to put a non-visual dream into an image? I recalled the music I heard, and it was as light and flowing as a butterfly - a butterfly with fairy dust, glowing, shifting colors - a beautiful song. Maybe it is a message from my muse. I think it does represent how important music has been to me throughout my life, and how hearing a song can take you to a different place that is not of the material world.

The Electric Cellmate

The Electric Cellmate - Susan Phillips Hicks

"Locked in a cell. I had a roommate. But when I woke up there was a death machine. Bolts of electricity encompassed the cell. I had to see what was marked on the calendar."

I only had this nightmare about 3 times, but I will never forget it. I was locked in a cell (don't know why), when my roommate's face opened up, revealing she had really been a machine all along, and this contraption came out, not unlike the rising of the projector in an old planetarium. Then the balls started spinning and emitting deadly bolts of electricity, which crawled the air and the walls, leaving me to huddle and make myself as small as possible to avoid harm. Every time I spied the page of a day-to-day calendar, and a shell on the floor across the cell. For some reason I knew I was supposed to get to there to read the calendar, but I couldn't. The room was filled with electricity.

My Dream World

My Dream World - Susan Phillips Hicks

"There is a city I dream of which is busy and flourishing. Artists took over the basement of an abandoned building. Eventually the collective was official and the town grew. Sometimes I rush to the Metro for a train that is never direct."

My. Dream. World. This one is a misch-masch of what I call "dream settings." I put them all into one scene. The start-off point is an art-studio area that is really just the basement of an abandoned building. The artists were unfettered by rules, regulations, and marketing, and did what they pleased. I joined them, working on everything from installations, to sculpture, to paintings. The movement grew and started a gallery for the public, while keeping some of the work space. Down the hill (but up worked better here) was a Metro stop, which I used daily. The trains were always unannounced and there was never a direct route anywhere. One exit in the station always opens to Kaufhof department store in Munich. One train had a habit of ending up in Austria - another in Paris. Others didn't magically cross the ocean and were much more straight forward, albeit to less exotic destinations. The jewelry store is also "real" from the dream - fun jewelry - artsy jewelry. Why not call it Bling? The other elements are just added to round out what I would find pleasant in a city block.  

Canals Make Me Feel Eerie

Canals Make Me Feel Eerie - Susan Phillips Hicks

"Consciousness hits. I am submerged in the water of a stagnant canal. There is something in the water beneath me. I cannot surface, yet I can breathe."

I took a bit of artistic license with this one, and it is a subtle image. The viewpoint has changed to that of an observer. In the dream point-of-view, I am the girl under water. In the dream, I cannot see the monster (look in the water!), but I know something is there. Something bad. I can't change my position, and the water is dark and murky, yet I don't drown. A sort of threatening limbo. And no, I am not a big fan of canals.

And the last dream for this blog (there are more to come) is above. It is a series I will keep adding to and will cover further in this blog. What was your recurring dream? (Answer in comments!)