Photo caption: When you get painting ideas from your dreams, you’ll create mesmerizing canvases filled with flora and fauna, skyscapes and more. Photo courtesy of MAI & Elli Milan.
Dreams harbor a unique place in life, existing in a vast space that moves between reality, the surreal, and even the supernatural realms. And if you know how to tap into them, they also offer you a plethora of drawing and painting ideas to draw from to create stunning works of art.
It’s a challenge to make sense of the chaotic imagery and stories that dreams convey, but when you successfully interpret and understand the language of dreams, rewarding things come forth in waking life.
This post offers you some ideas for using your dreams to create powerful sources for your paintings. It looks at what painting sources are, as well as some famous painters who used their dreams as sources of inspiration for paintings.
Finally, it offers you three solid tips for literally turning your dreams into reality.
Most artists don’t start a painting at their canvases. Rather, they create ideas for their paintings ahead of time. A painting idea, sometimes, called a study, is similar to a rough draft of a novel. The initial ideas are there, but the artist needs to flesh them out more.
Through these “rough drafts,” the artist works and reworks his/ her rough ideas in a sketchbook or in modern times, on software like Adobe Photoshop or Pixelmater.
These “rough drafts” are the painting sources that the artist creates his/ her paintings from. They become the reference photos or illustrations that the artist uses to guide the painting process.
Some of the most well-known artists in history used their dreams as inspiration. Today, we primarily know these artists as the Surrealists - think Salvador Dali - though certainly those artists didn’t have the market on using dreams as inspiration.
Milan Art Institute co-founders, Elli and Dimitra Milan, often use their dreams as a source of inspiration for their paintings. They also encourage their Mastery Program students to tap into this personal resource when they’re looking for ideas for paintings.
Again, this isn’t the only place that they can find inspiration. As Dimitra explains in the program, she often turns to poetry and photography and other sources to create paintings.
The important thing for artists to remember is that the most powerful art comes from always having something to paint and from tapping into an artist’s personal set of symbols, which can often be found in dreams.
That’s when artists create paintings that express their heart, their courage and their “aliveness.” It’s not difficult to see why if you think about it. An artist’s superpower comes from the things he/ she has overcome, and an artist’s dreams often reflect this.
But this isn’t just true for other artists. It can be true for you as well.
Truly, by incorporating imagery that has been inspired by your dreams, you tap into your superpowers, which enables you to create truly transcendent and inspiring art that has the power to change the world!
Aside from this, truly authentic paintings can reflect someone else’s dreams, as Dimitra found out. Watch the video below to see how a painting she created was nearly the mirror image of one her collector’s dreams.
Video caption: Dimitra Milan talks about her artistic journey and inspiration, as well as paintings that capture collector’s dreams.
The part that can be tricky is portraying an image that illustrates the message of your dream in a way that is both beautiful and open-ended.
Here are three helpful tips to create compelling sources to paint from.
The painting should convey the emotion or feeling of the dream. It shouldn’t necessarily be a literal scene of your dream. The painting itself will most likely look like a dream of its own, and this image will speak to the spirit of your viewer without using words.
Think symbolically, and allow your painting to be ambiguous, even to you. This way your viewer will be able to relate to the theme of the painting and apply that inspiration to their own lives.
Choose the most vivid and visually appealing symbol that appeared in your dream to be the subject of your painting. Even though there may be multiple visual elements, it’s best to pick one or two main images that will pair nicely together and translate well on canvas.
For example, if you have a dream that you’re eating honey, you don’t actually want to paint a self portrait of yourself holding a spoon of honey to your mouth. It’d better to think about what honey symbolizes: sweetness, kind words, and prosperity. Maybe you think of flowers and honeybees as well.
Applications like Pixelmater or Procreate are great to use for creating sources. You could gather images on Pinterest or take your own photos, and then collage them into an ethereal background.
You can create your own background and color scheme with the paint tools on these programs. In this step you can be free and intuitive, as well as in the actual painting.
With the honey example, you can convey the ideas of sweetness and kind words with bees, flowers, honeycomb patterns, or even paint a mouth paired with some of these visual elements.
It is really powerful to catch a glimpse of the transcendent realm, and even more powerful to be able to paint it!
With these tips, you’ll be well on your way to developing meaningful ideas for paintings and drawings from your dreams.
You can turn your mysterious dreams into powerful paintings with Dimitra Milan at our on-site workshop on April 16th - 18th here at the Milan Art Institute. There are only 20 spots available, so sign up today and make your dreams a reality!
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