Preview: crow head plate

I’ve been working on making prints where the imagery is derived from vivid dreams I have had. My ability and desire to remember my dreams changes periodically, and I went through a rather long stretch where I didn’t care to remember them at all. I was able to forget my dreams, for the most part, but occasionally a dream of unusual detail and power would strike. Those are the dreams on which I’m basing this new body of work.

Sketch composite of crow heads in a circle.
Preview: crow head plate by H. Birdsong

This image (which was very poorly photographed indeed, using my cell phone camera in poor lighting after a couple of glasses of wine) is my first foray into making a print that I literally dreamed. In said dream, I had a print pulled (an etching with a lovely, velvety black aquatint) of a plate with a ring of crow heads for a border. The middle of the image was blank, and I had a drawing on a piece of tracing paper that I was trying to compose in that space.

That image was a portrait of a gentleman, I would guess from the 19th century, sporting a dramatic Hulihee and a crisp collar. I have no idea who he was or why I might dream such a thing, but it was so clear that I jumped out of bed and scribbled a thumbnail on a scrap of paper by the bed.

This crow head sketch I composed by drawing the heads separately on pieces of tracing paper, cutting them out, and arranging them until I was pleased with the density of crows and shape of the blank space. I now feel sure of my familiarity with the shape of a crow’s beak, particularly the lower half, because I struggled with it on several of the sketches.

I’ve heard that trying to remember one’s dreams by such means as keeping a dream journal or repeating the dreams back to yourself upon waking can actually lead to remembering more dreams. I have never heard of someone making dream-derived art that resulted in art being created in a dream, though I suppose it makes a certain sort of sense.

I am still working on the “mysterious skull” plate (I have another proof to pull) and the Yezinky one (still drawing on that litho stone; it’s a slow process). Stay tuned for more…

I wish I could come up with all my ideas by simply falling asleep. Too easy, I suppose.

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