Reciprocity of Dream and Work

When one is not at one’s work, especially the artist or artisan, one is “out of joint” with himself and the world. When one is away from one’s work, one tends to agonize over the latent material waiting for expression as well as the solitude that is such a part of one’s life. The artist needs his work. There is a unity of experience when one’s work mirrors one’s inner life and the very process where this occurs is in the creative act. This unity produces an immediate joy within the artist. And he again feels his connection to greater forces in the world. Bachelard states, “the space in which the dreamer is immersed is a ‘plastic mediator’ between man and the universe”. (Gaston Bachelard, On Poetic Imagination, endnote p.80) This does not happen without the dream. The artist needs the oneiric dream to create the sacred space necessary for true creative work. “His experience ( in the act of creating) is an interweaving of dream and dexterity”. (Ibid. p.80)

Working with a material, such as paint, clay, wood or metal, in the very act of modeling it, one finds one’s imagination fixed with intensity. And in the process of working with one’s material, one is caught in a productive reverie where one’s inner life is given time to speak. This activated solitude with the material gives the soul space and creates a vertical axis for one’s thoughts. Verticality provokes and inspires a dynamic imagination. An imagination that “takes flight” allows the artist freedom from the horizontality of our everyday living. And in this flight or aerial view, the artist finds the image– the symbol that speaks and reveals its nature and ours. “Take away dreams and you stultify the worker. Leave out the oneiric forces of work and you diminish, you annihilate the artisan (artist)”. (Ibid. p.80)

One must protect the sacredness of one’s work- the time, space and material imagination. “Respect for deep psychological forces must lead us to keep the oneirism of work safe from any harm”. The energy produced by such creative work feeds the artist in such a way that he is able to simultaneously work and “rest”. It is rest in a sense, because one honors that part of our being that seeks expression. Rest and renewal of inner energies is paramount to one’s ability to create. The artist needs to exhaust themselves in the work itself only to find that one’s energy is simultaneously revived in the process. One’s ability to work this way gives a joy that is satisfying. Without this deep connection, the artist easily falls into depression- an expression of a disconnect between himself and the world. It produces a barrenness within the soul and one is left “wandering in the desert”. “The oneirism of work is the very condition of the worker’s mental integrity”. (Ibid. p.80)

Living this deep connection and unity provided by one’s work allows for a dynamic imagination to flower. One is no longer alone but deeply joined to elemental forces in the world as well as those around him and to humanity itself. “We can accomplish nothing good against our will, that is to say against our dreams.” (Ibid. p.80)

Author: Judith Reeve

For nearly 30 years I've developed my painting practice in the studio, building on what I leaned from my student days at the Lyme Academy of Fine Art. Along with my daily journey creating images which I write about here on this blog, I am also currently writing a book on the color practice of Robert Henri.

One thought on “Reciprocity of Dream and Work”

  1. I love the drawing and the pose Judith and I can dig what you write. Thanks for putting pictures of your work up. It`s good to see.

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