Studio notes: a painting dream
In the dream, I sit in front of a large painting of two irregular rectangular shapes. The painting was begun by someone else and appears to have been abandoned. The shape on the left is a reddish mauve. The one on the right is a cerulean blue, lighter than the form on the right. And on its inside edge is a swipe of white that has picked up the blue underneath.
I keep looking at the space between the forms and this interesting edge, until I feel nearly ready to resume work on the painting.
When I look again, I see that a student has painted over the rectangular shapes with burnt umber and yellow ochre. The top part of the canvas is full of a loopy script.
I see that she’s working very fast, moving from this painting to two smaller canvases and back again.
I’m shocked and disappointed.
I had wanted to go into the painting and work on it myself, but it was her painting all along.
I want to tell her to slow down, sit back, and look for a while.
I ask her to imagine a story about a woman and a painting or a narrative from the painting’s point of view. I invite her to write several versions and discover what happens in each.
I wonder what it would be like if in one version, all of a sudden she encountered a magic animal that asked her a question.
When I wake up, I wonder why I am so interested in the original painting and so intent upon working on it myself.
And why does it seem so important to me that the student slow down, stop, and just look? Advice I myself have been given by every painting teacher I’ve ever had.
And what am I hoping we will discover by telling stories about the painting?
And if it were my story of the painting and I encountered a magic animal, what would that animal be?
And what would it ask me?