Two Basic Tips For Drawing or Painting Your Dreams

2015 Artwork Two Basic Tips For Painting your dreams article

Dreams can be a really interesting source of artistic inspiration. Although they are unpredictable things and can often be rather boring and ordinary, if you’re anything like me, then you’ll have one really fascinating and memorable dream every once in a while.

Whilst you could write down a description of your dream – if you’re an artist, then it can often be far more interesting to make a drawing or painting based on your dream.

After all, dreams are usually visual things – so, it makes sense to record them visually in a painting or a drawing. But, how do you do this well? Here are two basic tips.

1) Choose a moment: Although it might be tempting to cram as much of your dream into your painting (or drawing) as possible, this usually just results in a terrible painting (even though it might be a good record of your dream.)

Trust me on this, I’ve made this mistake at least once or twice:

"Dreamt Dystopia" By C. A. Brown

“Dreamt Dystopia” By C. A. Brown

No, it’s usually a good idea to try to remember the most visually striking, dramatic, bizarre and/or memorable moment of your dream and paint that instead. Yes, it might not tell the entire story of your dream – but it will work a lot better as a painting.

The thing to remember here is that people will only usually see your painting for a few seconds if they are looking at it online, so you need to make sure that your painting is interesting in it’s own right without requiring a detailed account of the dream that inspired it. And, well, the easiest way to do this is to just paint the most interesting moment or image from your dream.

For example, here’s a painting of mine called “Cinema Diabolique”. It was based on a rather long dream I had last year but, as you can see, I chose the most dramatic and visually appealing moment from my dream for this painting:

"Cinema Diabolique" By C. A. Brown

“Cinema Diabolique” By C. A. Brown

2) Artistic licence: Although it might be tempting to make your dream painting as “accurate” as possible, it’s important to remember that a dream painting is a painting first and a record of a dream second.

What this means is that you may have to make a few changes, so that you dream painting works well as a painting.

For example, I had a dream the night before I wrote this article which ended with me stepping into a small room with pale blue walls that were covered with intricate scribbles in blue or red ink. There was a stairway at the end of the room and a mysterious man (in a dark coat) I’d been following in an earlier part of the dream was climbing them.

Whilst the original atmosphere and look of the room was rather cold, creepy, strange and desolate – I quickly realised that this wouldn’t work that well in my painting.

After all, if it was night outside and the man was wearing dark clothing – then the picture would contain nothing but cool colours (and look kind of dull). So, I decided to make the scribbles on the walls red instead, in order to make the man stand out more. Here’s what my final painting looked like:

"The Man On The Stairs" By C. A. Brown

“The Man On The Stairs” By C. A. Brown

So, yes, remember that your dream painting doesn’t have to be “100% accurate”. As long as it works well as a painting and gets across the basic idea of what happened in your dream, then feel free to make any changes that you think will improve your painting.


Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

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