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Last Sunday I awakened from a very brief dream. I rarely dream and almost never in color. The scene I witnessed was so beautiful and surreal that I felt at peace and as though I’d been given a gift. I saw two pure white sailboats traveling left to right on blue-violet waters with waves splashing against their sides but not slowing their steady progress. Behind them was a bright orange and yellow sky with the sun setting behind the trailers of clouds slowly moving into the distance. My immediate thought was that I needed to paint the scene. Never, ever have I painted strictly from my head. I used to draw and paint pictures, as a child, that way. I was amazed to find that I was able to duplicate the colors and the shapes I had witnessed. This has made this simple painting experience very special for me. Because I am a curious person I have a dream book  and looked up the items of my dream. The best I can decipher is that the sailboats represent smooth sailing and because they are white, they also represent purity. The blue violet water represents truth and wisdom. The yellow -orange represent self control, thoughtfulness and consideration. The sunsetting through clouds represent peace after an emotional storm. Simply my dream message may have been that emotional upheaval may be averted if I use self control and am considerate and thoughtful of others. These simple truths will provide me with wisdom and smooth sailing. The fact that there were two sailboats means these things doubled.

I used frisket paper to mask off the sails and applied the large washes of sky and water. While the sky was still wet I dribbled alcohol through it to make the two strips for the trailing clouds. While that was still wet I fed light washes into it of violet and antwerp blue and the clouds appeared where the alcohol was drying. The bits of texture for waves were created by printing a darker mixture of the blue and purple with paper doily cuttings. I painted the white of the boats with white acrylic gesso and used light washes of winsor orange and blue-violet to tint the sails. While the sail washes were wet I floated washes of  permanent white gouache into them to brighten the white. I used a rigger and white gouache to draw the lines from jibs to masts.

This is a time when the experience of painting was more enjoyable than the satisfaction of  the finished work.

Almost forgot the dream book I have (it’s very simple really) is The Mystical Magical Marvelous World of Dreams  by Wilda B. Tanner.


  1. I love this painting and that it was the result of a dream. Your colors are fabulous and the fact that you painted the whole thing from your memory is incredible.

    I sometimes wonder about those dream books. I dream all the time, mostly in color, and my dreams are more in line with nightmares rather than dreams. I usually wake up anxious and clenching my teeth and not rested at all.

    But if this painting represents one of your dreams all I can say is I’m jealous! Even without a dream book, I can tell you that the water looks calm and serene and peaceful. The sky looks vibrant, but not stormy. And we already know you speak the truth and are wise.

    Lovely painting and what a nice dream.

    • Thank-you Carol. I didn’t mean to imply that I am the things in the dream, but that it might be telling me that these are ways I may feel calm and avert an emotional upheaval. Believe me. I’ve had some nightmares and they were generally sad rather than frightening.

  2. … utterly stunning and lovely. What a wonderful experience to hear of your dream, then see it manifested in paint! This painting makes me happy for you. Congratulations.

    • Thank-you, Jay. I remember you asking me if I ever just painted from my head. I don’t think you meant dreams but this is the closest I’ve come to that. It was probably your long ago suggestion that helped me to want to try this.

  3. What a beautiful painting. I love the shapes and the foreground glow. What a gift this dream was. Sails, serene and steadfast. And though you say you are not what you saw in the dream, yet this seems to be what you bring to this community. Thanks for sharing all of this.

    • Thank-you, Stephen. I agree that this dream was a gift. I can assure you that I have my share of emotional moments. I hope that having painted this as well as dreamed this that I will remember it’s message and promise. Thank-you for saying I bring these things to our blogging fun.

  4. Absolutely stunning Leslie! It’s great to hear that you enjoyed the actual process more than the end result. That’s exactly how I love to paint, as you get lost in the process, and it takes you away to another place. It’s like a meditation. Although I’ve never painted my dreams.

    I do wonder about these books too. I think if I read into them, they’d just say I was screwed up! Lol. I dream all the time, and extremely vividly. I always remember them. I also have lots of nightmares, though not for a few months. I’ve never been able to find out what they mean, but I usually have them when I’m under duress. I just know I wake up in absolute dread and panic and can’t get back to sleep unless hubby soothes me.

    • Thanks for the compliment, Heather. I would probably have nightmares, also, if I had to face all those projects you are working on for school! Good luck with them! Can hardly wait to see the print from that collograph with your husbands sleeping shorts added to it! LOL

        • heatherslalaland
        • Posted October 17, 2009 at 10:49 am
        • Permalink

        Hahaha! I’m really excited about my collograph. Not sure how it’s going to turn out, but in my head it’s going to be brilliant! Lol.

        Funnily enough, I’ve not had a single nightmare since starting college!

      • There you go! Maybe you are following your truth…..OR maybe you are just too exhausted to do that stuff at night. SMILE

        • heatherslalaland
        • Posted October 17, 2009 at 11:40 am
        • Permalink

        I prefer to think I’m following my truth, but realise I’m probably just knackered!

  5. LOVELY! First impression before reading the text: Beautiful energy and light coming from it – wonderful colours. I was excited by this painting.

    How very interesting that this was from your dream and also the interpretation of your dream is fascinating – as are all your painting techniques.

    Do they still make paper doilies?

    I hope the dream is right and that all will be doubly smooth sailing for you as you are already wise as Carol rightly says.

    • Thank-you, June, especially your comment, before reading the post, about the light. Yes, they make paper doilies. Thank-you for saying I am wise, but I truly see this dream vision as a reminder rather than something I am. I’m just glad one of those sailboats weren’t being blown sideways! LOL

  6. hi Leslie, this is a wonderful piece.. the product of dreams:) not only creative but painted in a creative way too:) r.

    • Thank-you Rahina. We are studying all the things you can do with watercolor and other mediums, so this became a little exploration of some of those things, also.

  7. this hit me the second i saw it. i can see that pure feelng went into this. its so much more beautful because you didn’t duplicate it from an image or scene

    • Thanks Kokot. That meant a lot because I was wishy-washy about whether I would even put this up here and talk about something like a dream. Appreciate it.

  8. Oh Leslie these colors are so intense and so luminous. I love the white sails. This is a stunning painting! I also love that it comes from your dream; what are paper doilies?

    • Thank-you Isabelle. I’ll take a picture of a doily and e-mail it to you. They are usually white and years ago were cloth or tatted and women used them on tables and sideboards to decorate the top of them or protect their surface. They were really rather fancy.

  9. Glowing colours – and love the effects of the techniques you’ve used. Looks great – you should work out of your head more often!

    • Thank-you Sarah. You really think I should work out of my head some? Usually I don’t see things as clearly as I saw this but I will when the opportunity arises. I promise.

  10. very nice color Les…

  11. Beautiful and dreamlike. My son would also love it, because it’s all about boats these days.. I have to draw him boats all the time, and they look nothing like that.. I wish they did.

    • What a lovely comment, Deva. My grand daughter loves playing with boats in tub or pool, also. Airplanes can be fascinating, also. They idea of transport and moving objects has always been big ideas for her.

  12. Wow! unbelievable color and light. I’ll set sail any day on that dream.

    • Thank-you, Ryan.I think that is why I was so compelled to try and get it on paper. Especially because I don’t dream much and more rare are dreams in color.

  13. Leslie, this is a beautiful post. I enjoyed reading about it as much as I enjoyed the painting. I had a grin on my face the whole time I was reading your words. The interpretation was deciphered quite beautifully.

    The painting is very dreamlike, too. I can tell it was a pleasure to create! Excellent!!!

    I agree with Sarah. You really should work from your head more often. (By the way, my frog in the stocking was entirely from my head, so you are definitely more sane than me!) he he

    • Thanks Beth. I figured your frog had to be from your head because he was positioned as though he was leaning over the edge of that stocking! This is something I will have to give some consideration to as nothing pops up right now. A friend of mine wants me to explore non-representational painting and I just haven’t taken time to do it.

  14. Great colors, i love the glow of the sunlight on the water and the pure white of the sails. It does look like in a dream. Wish i could draw some of my dream on paper, sometime it’s too scary for me to put something down on paper just like that not too confident with my imagination yet.

  15. Beautiful. I love ocean scenes.

  16. What a great dream!! Absolutely beautiful painting, I love the colors.

  17. Awesome! What a way to dream. Thank you for sharing.

  18. Lovely work, Leslie. I like how the two boats seem to have this pure, serene light (I want to say the sails remind me– not visually, but perhaps metaphorically– of angel’s wings).

    A haiku by Seishi (tr. by Ueda):

    Under the flaming sky,
    a distant sail: in my
    heart, a sail.


    • Wow, Josh. Thank-you for this. That is absolutely beautiful. I love this haiku I’m experiencing through your blog!

  19. Hi
    I also agree with Sarah & Beth. I like the simplicity of the design you’ve got here;that contrast of sharp white against the freer treatment of the water & sky.
    It was also interesting reading your interpretation of the dream.

    • Thank-you, Sonya. I think that’s what drew me in with the dream, also. A very simple scene with a power to evoke a feeling.

  20. How beautiful, you can almost feel your dream through it. Very spiritual.

    • Thank-you painted brush! I felt that it was more spiritual in nature than some of my infrequent dreams.

  21. Leslie, I LOVE the deep rich color contrasts between the sails and water. Reminds me of an actual view from the large window in the Day Break Center in Seattle. HMMM.

    • Thanks 47. I have never been to Seattle but have read a novel centered there and it even talked about seeing boats on the water. What is Day Break Center?

  22. Thank you so much for sharing this, it’s so beautiful. I too used to draw from my head as a child and lately have wondered if I could still do it. Maybe now I should give it a try!

    • Thanks for this comment, Karen. This is a wonderful exercise to help our creative sensitivities.

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