What happens when lucid dreaming is introduced to the artistic process? After years of working with lucid dreaming scientifically as part of my PhD and also on a personal and artistic level, I believe lucid dreaming and the ‘waking lucid dreaming’ of the artist’s trance can be powerful tools for artistic transformation.
The dreamer is surrounded by the equivalent of a film of her unconscious mind at play – an unquestionably stimulating artistic resource – and being able to say, ‘I’m dreaming this’ opens up further possibilities for exploration and experimentation.
One thing I love about lucid dreams is that, as Kelzer observes, ‘lucidity does not seem to act as an inhibitor of the unconscious’ (1987). Even in the most determinedly controlled lucid dream, there are always uncontrollable elements, so that the spontaneity of the dream shines through – the sky turns a defiant lime-green, or a novel character melts into a puddle of warm vanilla custard. It’s this spontaneity that gives us our most original creations, the brightest, boldest ideas to take with us back to waking reality and turn into art. So lucid dreaming seems to be a naturally creative state which can facilitate artistic endeavours irrespective of whether dream control is used, but it can also be drawn on as an actively creative space where lucidity enables the conscious, in-the-dream performance of artistic acts such as sculpture or musical composition.
If you’re an artist, when you become lucid you could get stuck in and draw a picture/throw a pot, or announce your intention to find the ‘magic box’ of images, ideas, and inspiration. Mine turned out to be a treasure chest lolling open behind a tree (I had to shoo away two big guard dogs to get at it though) and to my surprise it was bursting with material – scraps of silk, twines of coloured wool, armfuls of slippery saris, thick ribbons all in a sumptuous tangle. Soon after this dream, I did my largest collage yet, ‘Spiral Energy’, using all of the above materials.
‘All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once you grow up.’ – Pablo Picasso. Solution: start lucid dreaming while awake 😎