Painting Dream

Last night I had a visceral dream that I’d rented an art studio in a converted 19th century mill building.

The space resembled the studio that—in waking life—I occupied from 2004 to 2012. In the late 1800s the building had been a factory that manufactured rubber thread, which was used for making suspenders.

In my dream, I shared the space with another artist whom I hadn’t yet met, whose art supplies and personal items tumbled over an implied “dividing line” into my side of the space. Undoubtedly this encroachment was unintentional, but it still provoked a territorial response.

Undaunted by the distraction, I proceeded to work on a large-scale abstract painting on a sloppily-stretched canvas. These details strike me as odd—I paint in waking life, but not in a style I’d consider to be abstract. And my painting surfaces are impeccably engineered. While I appreciate some nonrepresentational painting (De Kooning, Frankenthaler, Basquiat, KandinskyKlee), I wouldn’t begin to know how to create it. Or rather, I didn’t until last night.

To my pleasure, the maintenance crew—the same people who serviced the building in waking life—started building a Sheetrock wall that would divide the studio in two. This meant that I would be able to work in a private space. But my enthusiasm faded when I learned that my half of the room would subsequently lack windows, and thus the magical quality of light that is so sought after in a studio space.

The familiar smells of linseed oil and turpentine permeated the dream.

Some guests arrived and we toured the rest of the building.

Then I woke up.