I had a remarkable dream last night, the kind I have only every so often and enjoy writing down and, yes, sharing. It was fairly realistic and was close enough to real life that it was just that much more immersive.
I was as I am now, age and all, and I had somehow enrolled myself in a kind of fine art painting seminar with about a dozen other people, a seminar apparently for people with a gift for expressing themselves through painting. That was the only significant difference between the version of me in the dream and the way I really am. I have no desire, and know of no talent of mine, in that field. Mary Nell got *all* of that trait.
But anyway, in the dream, I was taking this course to develop my gift, and I had a mentor who seemed to be an almost exact match to the Holy Family Choirmaster, except that this man was a visual art expert rather than a music one. An event was beginning, in which we all were to produce original paintings, with our mentors’ advice, and they would be judged. This was going to be my breakthrough moment as an artist, I and my mentor felt, and so the pressure was on.
I painted on a nice-sized canvas, maybe about twice as high and twice as wide as my MacBook display, and I can describe the painting fairly thoroughly even now. It was a strange mixture of landscape and still life. The background itself was an almost abstract-expressionist blending of blacks, blues, and browns that faded between sky in some places, urban landscape in others, wall on the right-hand portion, and ground near the bottom. The still life portion, which was on the right, had a table top with jeweled items on it, like gold-rimmed baskets, possibly even items like a Grail and/or a Crown – perhaps Holy-Week-to-Easter inspired. The table surface, as your view moved left, became street and sidewalk for a little brown city, studded with lighted windows. Above was the sky, and at that point, the details of my painting at that point in the dream come to a halt. I remember feeling the feeling that Kurt Vonnegut described abstract expressionist painters had when they immersed themselves in their work: They were painting partially for an exquisite feeling of compulsion just to be putting paint on the canvas. It was truly curious, now that I think of it, feeling this motive force manifest itself in a painting ability I do not think I have in real life.
I finished the painting – or at least the first version of it, and let my mentor see it. He criticized where there was lack of detail, where the painting needed more work. It seemed to be particularly on the still-life portion. So I worked, again with inspiration and fervor. Finally, it was done, and I had him come in and look at it, because the time for judging would be very soon. He said I had done a good job, and that it looked ready. He was particularly impressed by some of the details I had added over the whole piece. When I looked at those details, I did not remember having painted them – and don’t remember dreaming of having painted them. They included a kind of golden ribbon-script with lettering that wove in and behind and in front of the city-scape portion of the painting, giving it a final look that was (according to my thinking about it upon waking) something by Giorgio Di Chirico and a more classic medieval or Renaissance study.
The time came to judge. I left my painting in the room where the other paintings were, and I came out to where all the students of the seminar were assembled, along with my mentor and possibly others, and the judges were getting ready to call the paintings in to evaluate them. But alas, when it came time for me to go get mine, I could not find it on the table or anywhere. There were my brushes, paint, and other supplies, but the canvas was gone. I came back out to the judging (main) room and reported this to the other people there. There was some searching, but it was fruitless. I let out a wracking sob – which I hope someday I’ll get to reproduce onstage!
The dream ended soon afterward.
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