Dreaming in Color

As I fly along the eastern shore of Cayuga Lake on my 40-minute morning commute, my mind meanders away from the familiar scenery to the quickly retreating flashes from my previous night's dreamscape.  I am an extremely active lucid dreamer, and nearly every single morning I awaken with a buzzing head overflowing with fantastical adventures, screaming colors, and impossible landscapes, all conjured within the deep recesses of my imagination.   It is from this enchanting twilight realm that much of my inspiration and creativity derives, and many of my waking days are spent seeking to communicate the wonders I've witnessed in the endless film reel of my dreams.

It was with much joy and enthusiasm, therefore, that I greeted the task of painting a mural at a favorite neighborhood hangout in downtown Ithaca.  I spent weeks sketching, painting, and prepping ideas for the 10' x 14' blank canvas that was soon to be my own personal playground.

Inspiration didn't strike during these waking brainstorms, however; it arrived, as usual, in the night.  I awoke one morning from a world bursting at the seams - bursting with color, with pattern, with creatures that grew and flew until they exploded into thousands of smaller versions of themselves.  I lay in a field with everyone I'd ever known, watching a spectacle that seemed to begin as an aurora borealis, but which we knew promised a greater, ultimately enlightening vision of perpetual growth and universal connectivity.  If all of this sounds grandiose and esoteric, please believe me when I say I agree.  And yet, I wouldn't trade these fleeting dreams for any concrete explanation of existence or scientific "theory of everything".  I revel in this dream world of magic and color and purpose (and sometimes, alternately, absurdist meaninglessness).  I am grateful for these visions of the fantastical, the impossible, the intangible, which provide inspiration to constantly create in the hours that I wake.  In this case, I woke with a certainty of how to fill an empty wall, which begged to become unique.

As we lay in the field watching the sky, a stag strode into view from the darkness.  It's silent presence was warm and comforting, and we watched as it's antlers slowly grew into great tree branches, which emanated starlight and created a canopy that cradled the earth.  Suddenly, this image burst like a symphony into millions of butterflies that shimmered and melted onto our skin like snowflakes.  The sensation was of white light that bridged the space between our bodies, the earth, and the sky - of oneness.  I awoke feeling warm and content.  Then I went to Lowe's and spent too much money on five gallons of paint, brushes, rollers - the works. 

That weekend I arose with the sun, bleary eyed and caffeine-fueled, and let myself into the sheltered courtyard beyond the grand gate of The Westy, a bar in downtown Ithaca.  I spent the day in blissful creativity, painting with broad strokes, fearless color, and wild abandon.  Friends meandered in and out, bringing food, coffee, and welcome company when the August sun became too sweltering.  I left each evening covered in color and bewilderingly dehydrated, but with a full heart and a smile that wouldn't quit.

In all it took two weekends to "complete".  I still have detail work I'd like to add, patterns for the butterfly wings and perhaps some intricacies in the sky - but overall I am pleased and grateful.  Grateful that Ithaca embraces and encourages public art and graffiti, grateful for supportive friends that made sure I wore sunscreen and drank water, and grateful for a uniquely stimulating nighttime dream world, which I feel privileged to visit when I close my weary eyes.  Please, friends, dream away!