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Iris's Dream
Iris's Dream
Digital_Cintiq 24 Pro_PhotoShop_Hard Pencil
Hardcopy size: about 22" x 30"

This artwork is a scene from my narrative sequence of digital paintings called “Mother of the Muses, which includes this painting and also: “Snowy-fingered Iris,” “Iris’s Dream,” Valentine,” “Within Without,” and “Iris’s Early Light.”

This painting is a reworking of “Daniel’s Dream.” Like it, “Iris’s Dream” does not depict a specific story or reference—or so I thought!

The compositional structure is the reverse of “Daniel’s Dream;” I took “Daniel’s Dream” and ‘flipped it horizontally’ to create this composition. “Daniel’s Dream” occurs in late morning, when I flipped it to create “Iris’s Dream,” it seemed to suggest late afternoon or evening.

When I was a kid, my family went to the beach a few times during the summer. My dad wanted to beat the crowd, so we arrived early. We always left kind of early, around 2 or 3 in the afternoon, just when the crowd, the excitement, the human pageantry was at its height. It made me sad to have to leave so early and not be able to join in on the excitement in full swing. The rest of my family would take showers and clean up when we got home, but I did not. I wanted the reminder of that fun and dreamlike world to linger in my mind, so the sweat, the salt, and the sunburn, the smells and feel of the place I let linger for as long as I could.

In “Daniel’s Dream” the sand is acid pink, but in “Iris’s Dream” I make it acid lemon yellow with a slight green tinge. I thought this would shake up color relationships, reorienting my color harmony and it did! Producing a psychedelic, other worldly and hallucinatory color environment akin to my memories of the beaches' smells, tastes, sounds, touch, and sights—and to how dreams seem.

In “Iris’s Dream” I included a double rainbow that formed two complete, concentric circles. As a high school kid working in the supermarket as a bagger upfront in the store and frequently on at our Sebago Lake family camp, late afternoon thunder showers rocked the landscape. Zeus! Poseidon! The storms moved from west to east. After the storm, the thunderheads lined the eastern horizon accompanied by a huge double rainbow. Iris! The huge windows upfront in the supermarket faced east and so did the Sebago beach front, so I had a front row seat. Another time, thunderstorms delayed my shuttle flight out of Charlotte to Greensboro. When the storms were over and the sun was out again and we were in the air, sitting in my window seat, I looked out the window, gasped, and saw two complete, concentric circle double rainbows!!! I had never seen anything like it before or since! Oh! The thoughts and feelings that welled up inside me as viewed this phenomenon and that still inspire me as memories! Sensations and sensations and memories and memories crowd “Iris’s Dream!”

I thought about the rainbow as the Old Testament God’s positive sign to humanity—ironically, after God had pretty much obliterated life on earth!

After I finished “Iris’s Dream,” I sat down and started reading “The Iliad,” and had the same kind of strange synchronicity and coincidence and hallucinatory/psychedelic trip that I describe in the text that accompanies “Foam” and “Melencolia II” here on my website. In chapter/book one of “The Iliad,” “The Great Gathering of the Armies,” Homer describes the Achaean forces. When he continues with a description of the Trojan forces, Homer says: “Now the Trojans.” And then says: “Iris the wind-quick messenger hurried down to Ilium, bearing her painful message, sent by storming Zeus.” Homer has Iris speak for the rest of the stanza, and then Homer says that Hector thought the following: “Hector missed nothing—that was a goddess’ call.” I said to myself, “Wait a minute!” That’s right! Iris is the Ancient Greek God associated with the rainbow and is Zeus’s messenger God!” I doubled checked this in the “Homeric Hymns” and Hesiod’s “Theogony,” and sure enough I had remembered correctly--although only after I finished “Iris’s Dream!”

After I read “The Iliad’s” passages about Iris, I realized that I had been referencing Ancient Greek cosmic phenomena and personifications without being fully aware of it! And thus re-titled this painting “Iris’s Dream.”

Synchronicity again? The spiritual speaking through the sense-perceptual world? Mere coincidence? Who knows…