Creating Art from Your Dreams

You may have heard the phrase “you can do it in your sleep.” It refers to having the flair or genius to do something so easily, it could be done without thinking, as if in your sleep. But did you know that some pretty famous creatives actually conceived some of their best ideas in their sleep?

The Beatles song Yesterday came to Paul McCartney in a dream – he woke up, went to his piano, and composed the tune. Poet Edgar Allen Poe and painter Salvador Dali were both known for their works being reflections of their dreams. Even the Terminator film franchise came to James Cameron in a dream.

When it comes to being creative, vivid dreams often come with the territory. But have you ever thought of following in the footsteps of these famous creatives and making art from your dreams?

At first this concept might seem outlandish or impractical. The experiences of some of these famous creatives may seem like random lightning bolts of inspiration or strokes of genius. But, you can learn to use your dreams as a source of inspiration and use them to create art.

The Science Behind Dreams

Before you can utilize your dreams to boost your creative potential, you need to understand the actual science behind dreams – not the pop culture take on the subconscious. From films like Inception to more general concepts, like dreams channeling signs from the great beyond, there are a lot of inferences out there about dreams and their meanings. These somewhat trendy speculations have detracted from actual scientific studies being done on dreaming.

Neurological researchers have proven that the brain continues to work during sleep cycles to process experiences and problems. So, the issue is not the brain’s potential or capability while dreaming – it’s your ability to remember or even have control over your dreams that’s a bigger challenge.

An Abstract Look at Your Emotions

Processing feelings and emotions is one of the major obstacles that the dreaming brain is capable of tackling. However, what’s unique about processing feelings and emotions in a dream state is that it’s a more abstract method as opposed to a logical one. When you approach your feelings and emotions more abstractly, you have the opportunity to channel them into art. Instead of very literally writing out your feelings or emotions in a journal, you can use different colors, shapes, or mediums to express yourself in a more figurative sense.

Put Your Brain to Work – Building Your Creative Muscles

Remembering or even having control over your dreams is a practice that takes time and effort. The concept is called lucid dreaming, and it all starts with learning to recognize and identify that you’re in a dream when you are in fact dreaming. It’s almost like giving yourself a reality check in your sleep. If you’re not keen on mastering the ins and outs of lucid dreaming, there are still ways you can help to put your brain to work in your sleep and build your creative muscles.

Imagine if you had hours in the day to simply sit daydream, free from any other distractions or worries. You’d probably be amazed at the thoughts and ideas that might emerge if your mind had the time and space to wander. Every time you go to sleep at night, those hours could be used for the same open-minded thinking. If you’ve got a creative idea or challenge you’re trying to navigate through, simply try working on it your last hour before bed and try to make it the last thing you think about before falling asleep. You might find yourself waking up with one of those ah-ha moments and heading straight to your medium of choice to create.

The Benefits of Visualization

If you consider yourself a visual person or visual learner, creating from your dreams may be easier and more beneficial. What makes visualization in dreams even more effective is the brain’s capability to envision images vividly and in three dimensions. If you’re a visual artist or creative who works primarily in visual mediums, simply trying to sketch, paint, or draw the images you remember from your dreams could be a way for you to get your imaginative wheels turning, think outside the box, and explore new creative possibilities.

The Ultimate Way to Free Your Mind

Dreams are rarely realistic. They’re typically some sort of fantasy, transporting us to another place, time, or even alternate reality – the experience can feel like being a character in a book or movie. And it’s why dreaming is the ultimate way to free your mind.

Being logical, rational, critical, or judgmental are all major barriers to creativity. When we spend too much time in our heads, over thinking, comparing, or overanalyzing, we immediately limit or creative potential or even stifle our creativity all together. Your sensible brain is no longer coherent during sleep. Therefore, your mind is completely uninhibited while you’re dreaming. Even if you can’t master techniques like lucid dreaming, simply encouraging your brain to dream can help to expand your creative potential and directly translate into the art you produce.

Logging Your Dreams is Key

If you want to start creating art from your dreams, keeping a log is key. Have you ever had the experience of waking up and remembering a dream, only to have that memory vanish the moment you get out of bed and start your day? It’s a common experience. That’s why keeping a journal or sketchpad on your bedside table is essential to getting the most out of your dreams. Even if you wake up in the night from a dream, you can roll over and draw a quick sketch or jot a quick note before getting back to sleep. As you make a habit of logging your dreams, you may find that it becomes easier to remember your dreams over time, and you may notice themes or patterns that emerge in your dreams. These could make the perfect subject for your next work of art.

Start Creating

Even though the concept of creating art from your dreams may sound too challenging or outlandish at first, it’s a proven practice that’s accessible to everyone. All it takes are a few simple and intentional habits to get you on your way to composing a masterpiece from one of your dreams like many famous creatives have before you.

We’d love to hear about how you’re tapping into your dreams and using them to inspire your artistic practice. Leave us a message in the comments below. We can’t wait to hear about your experience!


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