Waking Dream ~ How I Discovered the Woman in the Mountain

Filling four pages in my journal, Squares, lines, a bird . . . an ancient bronze stick figure, then an abstract woman peeking her head over the mountain!

Trying to sketch a dream in my journal this morning, I filled four pages with scribbly boxes and abstract shapes.

sketchbook dreams

I’d never have considered painting such simple compositions. But my sketchbox trunk show had changed the rules. Now I can experiment.

Squares, lines, floating leaves, a bird . . . perhaps they could be designs for the backsides of pillows.

sketchbook dreams

an ancient bronze stick figure I’d seen in the Etruscan collection of the Vatican Museum.

sketchbook dreams

Then suddenly I saw it ~ an abstract woman peeking her head over the mountain!

sketchbook dreams

Three squares had clustered together in the valley and formed her heart.

sketchbook dreams

In the next box, she had arms. Outstretched mountains embracing the world.

Oh my! I wonder what else she can do?

sketchbook dreams

Emotion filled her shapes and i could feel her heart beating. I wonder if she can pray .. .

sketchbook dreams

I tried to sketch two hands clasped together. And then I saw her hip raised up out of the earth. Two hands praying . . . or a dancing woman with arms overhead.

sketchbook dreams

Without thinking I drew the reservoir, the mountain protecting it. And the sky rained stars down to fill it.

sketchbook dreams

The night sky filled with sparkly white stars on a deep Cobalt Blue field.

sketchbook dreams

Her heart joined forces clustering with those nearby. Head rising up, I could feel her strength growing.

sketchbook dreams

I wonder where this story is going? I see the paintings clearly. The colors, shapes, textures, the magic of painting them. I can’t wait to get started.

30 Paintings to Bring the Goddess Out of Your Mountain

30 Paintings to Inspire, coax, encourage, embolden, console, energize & applaud your goddess . . .

The first painting I ever sold was a pastel landscape I painted in college. The abstract mountain stretched across 3 square pieces of paper. In it was a reclining woman.

Really! I’d painted her from a figure drawing class where we had a live model. In the painting, she was hidden under the mountain, you could hardly see her.

I’d forgotten all about this early painting until last week. Sketching a few dream scribbles in my journal, I saw a woman rise up out of the mountain landscape. OMG!

It’s her! On the pages of my journal, at first I saw her just peeking over the mountain. Then her heart came together in the center, and she raised her wings like an angel taking flight.

dream journal sketches
Thumbnail sketches from my dream journal

I recognized her awkward moves, like a stick drawing in a flip book. Animated stop actions, step by step she finds her heart center. She puts her hands together to pray. Then suddenly I notice she is standing.

Arms overhead, she’s no longer bound by the mountain! How could this be? Her heart open and sparkly stars raining down from the Cobalt Blue heavens. She is energized, courageous, resolved.

dream journal sketches
Sketches from my dream journal

In a flash, I knew I’d found my artistic voice ~ at last I could see the colors ~ brilliant Aquamarine, Deep Turquoise, juxtaposed with heart to heart Vermilion, Deep Cadmium Red, Quinacridone Rose, and Cobalt Violet.

Finally standing in a field of Meadow Green and Jade, my fertile dream is suddenly real, no longer a figment of my imagination.

I’d lost her decades ago, or so I thought. As life dished up its challenges, my mountain grew. (raising 3 sons, surviving an attack, losing my mother to cancer, life challenges particular to me ~ but hey, eveyone has them. How else would the Creator direct us to our creative voice?)

#1 Goddess in the Mountain

Goddess in the Mountain
Goddess in the Mountain, Purchase Info

But, what I want to know is how could it happen so fast, after all this time? How could my mountain vanish? And suddenly in its place is a colorful tapestry of goddess vestments?

How could my paint brush leap to hand, and in a flash my paintings transform from reality to abstract? Overnight, what I thought was reality (the landscape and mountain) is suddenly goddess with vividly colored vestments!

Her head rising like the sun above a gem-encrusted ridge. Footprints in the landscape, the only sign she’d passed.

3 Doorways to the Tuscan Lifestyle ~ Tuscan Retreat

A Question is like a doorway. Opening a question changes everything.

My Retreat in Tuscany did this. The question I opened was “how to absorb the Tuscan Lifestyle into my life and artistry?”

Three doorway paintings explore this idea.

verdigris door painting dorothy fagan
Verdigris Door, oil, 10″ x 10″

Doorway #1 ~ Verdigris Door

In Verdigris Door, I was initially fascinated with the iron scroll work above the door. My first study was this oil wash and line drawing. You can see how my focus shifted from the detail scroll in the study below to color, light and shadow in the finished painting above.

Tuscan doorways
Scroll Door, wash and line drawing, 5″ x 7″
Tuscan doorways
Verdigris Doorway oil study, 8″ x 6″

#2 ~ Vermilion Doorway

Struck by the wonderful vermilion color, I tried several times to paint it. This version where the color is framed by an open archway, seemed a way of playing with the color without letting it dominate everything.

Three arched doorways, one to the right, the next front and center, and a third through the passage ~ lead us through the painting. A slice of sky opens light on the tower, street, and the next doorway.

Like a dream, I wonder what it means? Just writing the question, I see how this painting is open doorways, while the door in the first paintings were closed.

The quest of my Tuscan retreat did open me ~ connecting heart and mind in a gentle, compassionate way.

Vermilion Doorway Dorothy Fagan
Vermilion Doorway, oil on cradled wood panel, 10″ x 8″

The figure gives scale to the doorway, small in relation to a larger structure. A silhouette suggests questions. Who? An aspect of myself? Someone ancient? Or a new way of seeing myself?

Experiencing the Tuscany lifestyle, exploring slowly, letting the colors, flavors, and laughter seep in DID give me a deeper appreciation of life. I feel amazed and privileged to be here. Every moment of every day is precious and colorful. You can see this reflected in these paintings.

Loro Cuifenna
Loro Cuifenna village

This photo of Jim was my inspiration for the painting. There is nothing extraordinary about the photo. It looks like any tourist photo, poorly lit with the person looking the other way.

And yet … Jim standing in the doorway was an invitation to explore something hidden inside myself. Looking back on it now, I can see how it sparked my dream, colors and shapes hidden inside me that I never would have seen.

Green Door Dorothy Fagan
Green Door, oil on cradled wood panel, 10″ x 8″

#3 Green Door

From the same village of Loro Cuifenna, this narrow passage called for exploration. Yes, that IS a figure down in the passageway!

At first I painted the figure distinctly. Then it seemed to feel better as I blurred the form. I thought about painting it out completely. Then reluctantly, I let the human form be suspended between the sky and earth tones of the village.

Writing this, I see myself the same way.

Tuscan doorway
Green Door, oil study, 7″ x 5″

Writing about a painting AFTER it is painted, opens another doorway. There are things we ‘know’ about ourselves innately. Playing with colors and lines is one way of exploring something inside. Jotting questions, writing a simple description of each painting, these simple journaling techniques open new understanding of the soul inside.

Another Doorway

I am taking a group on a Tuscan Retreat. Watercolor journaling like this, writing, painting, cooking, wine tasting, exploring the Tuscan Lifestyle ~ What would it look like to absorb and live it? Find out more>