It’s the 1st July – extraordinary. A whole 6 months has gone by.

It’s a beautiful winter’s day here on the highveld. Truly, quite gorgeous. The sun is bright and warm, the garden is looking pretty. I’m sitting out on the patio with the table strewn with paints and brushes, and I’ve been experimenting.

I’ve had a few dreams recently that are puzzling. The one I recorded this morning demanded expression. It was the the last part, and very clear. In any event, I had determined from a few days back that today I would actually paint. There’s been an image in my mind for a long while that I’ve wanted to give expression to. This morning’s dream was a strong reminder and a prompt.

So, in trepidation, I set about preparing for this. I know very little about painting and have dabbled in the past when I had a teacher to guide me. I spent a little while looking in the paints and paper drawers to see what I have. After much faffing, tossing out old tubes that had hardened and organising ‘useful’ ones, I’ve done a preliminary ‘picture’ using acrylics. I didn’t use paintbrushes; I’ve used a plastic knife from a palette knife set (made in China) to daub on the sketch I had initially made. As I write, the already applied acrylic is drying – I have much to do yet.

In the meantime, I received a comment today from ‘Ashen’ who responded to my previous post. She shared about dreams and expressing them in concrete form… it is a lovely comment which I will respond to later. I am struck at the synchronicity of her comment while I am bang in the middle of doing just this. Another prompt, even if after the event.

There’ve been many promptings lately, in my dreams. I’m paying attention that is their due of them, or my due to them. Yes, I do look up certain symbols in my dreams from solid sources eg The Book of Symbols: Reflections on Archetypal Images. Taschen. Like ‘stone’, ‘urine’, ‘necklace’. No, I do not make an immediate interpretation. The dream is too valuable for that. butterflyblogimages

While setting out papers and brushes and paints, I also copied some quotes on scraps of paper on my desk into another journal. I knew I was procrastinating but I allowed myself this resistance. If only to look at that resistance, forever present in me. Fear of actually putting something down on a blank canvas. I kept on reminding myself that painting a picture of an image was for me and me alone and that I could play a bit and get over myself. So, the painting evolves. I know I will be considering it for a while yet, and if I can be patient, taking care and not giving up, and make something beautiful of it, I will be pleased.

And because I love this Life

I know I shall love Death as well

The child cries out when

From the right breast the mother

Takes it away, in the very next moment

To find in the left one

It’s consolation

Rabindnarath Tagore: from Gitanjali


34 Comments on Prompts & Paints & Papers

  1. Thank you so much Sammy ..those distinctions between distractions and procrastination are significant, aren’t they? Sometimes ‘faffing’ is useful as a sort of preparation .. getting geared up. Procrastination is most often for me a fear of ‘creating’ – thinking it not good enough, incapable etc etc etc – good (or not so good) plain old fashioned resistance.

    I too so love that piece of prose …

  2. Lovely poem filled with messages for me. I will copy this one into my quote journal.

    As I was reading about your process of rummaging through your drawer, tossing dry paint tubes, etc and came upon your term “procrastination” it struck a visceral chord. I often find myself doing similar things as I set out to write, tangle or attempt art, and two hours later find I’m still in the “faffing” stage. I do love the “faffing”, but that’s not the point. The point is I’ve called it “distraction” and let it be ok that I become “distracted.” Now I understand what I am really doing is what you call it – “procrastination” to avoid my fears and uncertainty that I’m capable of writing or art. In the future, I will make a clearer distinction – am I “faffing” because that’s what I want to do at that moment or am I procrastinating. If it’s the latter, I need to break through my own resistance and “get to it.” I will throw out the term “distracted” because it clouds my clearer choice.

  3. Hi Susan .. I’m not an artist … but have just been to the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square to see Primary Colours – the exhibition on where colours came from in relation to some of the great artists … fascinating to see, as I’d heard a talk on the show. But of course as I wandered around primary colours stuck out at me .. not true primaries … but brights!

    I don’t dream that way, or often .. so it’ll be fun to see your work when it can be shown .. and as for synchronicity … it’s constantly occurring as far as I’m concerned …

    So pleased the Highveld is bright, sunny and clear … enjoy your creativity .. cheers Hilary

    • Thanks for coming by Hilary! It’s been a while since I’ve been to the National Gallery – maybe two years back …
      How wonderful to note the gift of synchronicity in your life! I catch my breath when this happens and give thanks for this ..
      It’s extremely cold here up on the highveld – temps of -3 degrees at night, maybe 10 degrees during the day. It must surely warm up a bit. But, the days are beautifully bright and sunny.

  4. Interesting post. I’d love to see the painting if you ever decide to show it.

    I’ve certainly gotten some strange story ideas from dreams. I’ve written them down, but haven’t done anything with them…yet. However, I’m convinced my subconscious writes all my novels for me, and isn’t that where dreams come from?

    • Thanks Holli – I may well share it – if I do it will be in the next day or so!
      Yes, dreams come from the unconscious (as opposed to the subconscious) and so great that they are used!

  5. Hi,
    I find that the greatest obstacle to overcome is the one or ones that we put on ourselves.
    I wish you best with your painting and that it helps you to find a part of you that is hidden and is now trying to rise.


    • Thank you Patricia. Wise words indeed:’… the greatest obstacle to overcome is the one or ones that we put on ourselves’. May I quote you please in the book “Aging & Becoming’.

      I am busy with the painting right now … the acrylic paint is drying … the nitty gritty still to do. Thank you Patricia for your encouragement – I so much appreciate this.


  6. Dear Susan;
    How special your honor to the dream and its precious images–even when they are off putting or on putting, they are and appear for so many more reasons than we can ever fathom.

      • That is one of my favorite parts of adult children. They no longer dictate my minutes and hours. Now, I schedule them. Well—not always.

        • My adult sons visit every now and then – or we, them -they live in different parts of South Africa – it’s always a joy to have them around, infrequent though it may be.

  7. My dear Susan,

    This post has evoked for me a sense of industriousness. I will proceed to make things happen.

    Thank you for this.



  8. I am by no stretch a painter but I do dabble and after all these years I still find a blank canvas intimidating. Dream interpretation is so fascinating and I must admit you have peeked my curiosity, I hope you will share your finished canvas with us.

    • Thanks Vicki for commenting. Believe me a blank canvas fills me with … resistance. Intimidating is precisely it. But I’ve sketched out on a new canvas – smallish, some of it. I looked at it this morning and am hopeful I’ll get some courage up to do more on it later. I’ve re-read ‘the dream’ and again am seeing more in it.
      How are you? Hopefully your summer has properly arrived and the days are gorgeous and life sustaining.

  9. Susan, we want to see your results! Truly though following our dreams and releasing fear–basic guidelines! Thanks

  10. It sounds like you have some fascinating dreams. I tried watercolor painting briefly many years ago but never went anywhere with it. Expression with words drew me more than expression with colors. I hope we get to see your painting someday.

    • Thanks Lori for coming by, much appreciated. Writing is such a powerful expression; reminds me of Virginia Woolf: ‘Nothing is real until it is written’.

  11. A lovely post, Susan, thank you. Dreams are so interesting and your painting sounds wonderful, great fun to do. Enjoy! We are in the middle of summer in the UK and it’s been very hot. I was surprised when you said you were in the depths of winter. Our blogs make the world a small place 🙂

    • Thanks Sharon for commenting! I’m looking at it as I write wondering how to proceed. Good that you’re having proper summer weather at long last. Enjoy 🙂

  12. Will you be sharing that painting or is that the first image in your post? This new activity sounds very promising and I’m sure it will be pleasurable. I love the poem you shared as well!

    • I may share it Stephanie…who knows maybe I’ll put it up next week. Perhaps it’s not a bad idea to give myself some sort of timeline or goal …
      Thank you for your encouragement!

  13. What a lovely gift for yourself, Susan — painting a picture of your dream and writing your thoughts simultaneously. I am certain you will make something beautiful of it, and something beautiful more, as what it shows you evolves, as you always have.

    Love the Rabindranath Tagore verse, too, the significant symbolism.

    • Thank you so much Samantha. I have some time tomorrow morning and on Thursday, so I’ll keep on thinking about it before I make a final decision as to how I want it – larger canvas, or not .. oils or acrylic, or other media … etc.. While looking in drawers this a.m. I also found a lovely piece of unused terracotta clay which is very much of interest to me as well, as I could fashion the last part of the dream from that; but I will keep focused on the painting..

      I love the verse – I’d written it down on a scrap of paper some days back and came across it again this morning .. glad you love it too 🙂

  14. It is interesting to explore the issues that dreams pull from within. Or how dreams change when we deal with those issues. Painting your dream will be an incredible way of expressing yourself AND exposing yourself. I’m sure it will be beautiful. Be kind to yourself in the process… AND HAVE FUN!!! 😉

    • There’s no way it comes easy to me Arlee. Blank canvas? Abstract or close to the dream? For me this is the first time in a very long time of painting a dream. Time s ALWAYS an issue. I sometimes sketch alongside the dream in my dream journal if eg a shape seems important.
      Thank you for commenting.

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