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  • Writer's pictureCarol Wiebe

From Literal to Lateral Thinking

I was thinking about what I wrote yesterday concerning my updated art journal pages.

Yes, I do “read” paintings like dreams, but did my catalogue of symbols remind you of someone pointing to the clouds and squealing, “There’s a rabbit. Oh, can you see the elephant? And there is a shoe!”

This method of seeing what symbols are in my paintings arises out of my study of dreams and interpreting dreams. Dreams can be quite literal, but it is the lateral thinking I am really interested in.

Lateral thinking is a term coined by Edward de Bono, and refers to “solving problems through an indirect and creative approach. Lateral thinking is about reasoning that is not immediately obvious and about ideas that may not be obtainable by using only traditional step-by-step logic.”

I have described myself as an artist who paints emotions. We all have them, and are all more or less at the mercy of them. What I do is use emotional energy to steer my hand with the art implements within my range. I sense a current between my heart and hand, and feel as if I am in a palpable energy field that is informing my “decisions” as the artwork emerges.

It is only after the energy field dissipates that I can look at the art and ask myself practical questions about composition. But even as I am in analytical mode, I want some of that emotional energy to keep me true to what the painting wants to say.

When I find objects within a painting, they are more than “a tree,” “a house”, “a circle.” Each object is a symbol with many personal and inter-related meanings. If I follow the dream analogy further, each of those symbols is representative of a part of myself. This is not narcissistic: it is simply that you can only really know your self (and even that is difficult to pin down). As I recognize, name and explore those symbols, my emotions are once again heightened and engaged, because the connections are so integral to my being.

In a sense, every piece of artwork is a tarot card, and my subconscious mind has illustrated its surface. This gives my conscious mind the opportunity to see what was wholly, or partially, hidden and run with those revelations. It is a wonderful game that I never tire of playing.

Furthermore, when others are triggered by those symbols, or even see something else entirely than what I have deciphered, they also join the game. Their personal associations come into play, and if they are willing and take the time to share, we engage in an interchange that is potent enough to meld our souls together.

Painting, anyone?

She looked so static . . . now I hope she looks like she's getting ready to spring.

#painting #artjournals #subconsciousmin #dreams #Artbooks #engage #literal #EdwarddeBono #dreamsymbols #game #lateralthinking

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