Working with Images for Creative Inquiry

photo by Lilian Bassman

In recent sessions I have been working with images related to design, artwork, architecture and environments. In one example, the dreamer was in the process of creating a studio space. She wanted to explore images related to this art space to see what kinds of issues might come up before the structure was built.

Dreamer: Yes, I had discovered that I was making plans about the space- storage, flooring, windows- based on what I thought would look nice, rather than what would be integrally USEFUL to my work. A challenge here is that my art making is very much in flux at present. I formerly worked in clay and will now be experimenting with other media. So, how to sense what all that implied for the SPACE? I knew exactly what a clay studio needed, but what about this new unfolding period ahead?

We always start a session with a body scan to take notice of what is happening internally at the present moment. Later, we can use this as a baseline to contrast with whatever sensations may appear as a result of the work with images.

We then worked with three different images that had appeared to the dreamer with regards to the new environment. In one image she saw herself at a sewing machine making something quilted. She described in detail the artwork. As facilitator, I enquired about the lighting, the seat, the table, the walls and windows of the studio as we were primarily focused on describing the qualities of the space.

In another image, the dreamer was experiencing herself working with splashes of color, paint on the floor. We explored the floor material to sense in to whether it felt inhibiting or freeing to work upon that surface.

Dreamer: Because Marina is herself a painter, and she knows about the freedom artists need, she was able to gently question my choice of having a “nice” floor – which might ultimately constrain my need to make a mess in the artistic process – and suggest maybe a painted plywood floor, that I could spill on, etc., and not worry about expensive repair or replacement. That idea felt very appealing…

In another image, we explored working with collage materials that were spread out on a counter. We sensed in to how it felt to work at this counter, how the lighting felt, and then how the storage/availability of materials for creating the work was organized, and in to display possibilities for the work within the space.

Dreamer: again, I was stunned at how I could “see” myself working, quietly, shifting materials about…This gave rise to thought about storage, work lights, counter space, avoiding direct breezes which could blow things away, etc. We constantly moved between the image and the architectural. The next day I called the builder, changed the window plan, and set up a meeting to discuss storage. I felt very supported as an artist by this whole encounter under Marina’s guidance.

The experience was inspiring for the dreamer and it was helpful in informing the planning process for the art studio. It was also enlivening for me as the facilitator to be in the dream with her. The next night, I dreamt of many artworks that had been created by the dreamer and shared with me.

In other sessions, we may explore the artwork itself in more detail. Moving in to the colors, their qualities and relationships with one another. Approaching the images with curiosity and wonder. Being informed by the artwork itself regarding the direction the work might take, taking note of any emotions, then anchoring these feelings into the body in conjunction with the associated images.

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Marina Lenney
Location: Santa Barbara, CA Education: M. Arch, UCLA; BA Antioch College
Articles: 8

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