What was the initial inspiration for the book?
The inspiration for the book came in an intense dream. I woke up in a shudder with my heart thumping; the image imprinted in my mind’s eye. I had just seen a woman, all dressed in red, dead, lying on a red carpet, with red blood oozing out around her head and neck. I had no idea who she was. Sometimes I dream about actual things, dread, hope, or premonitions. But this woman was not me, nor anyone I knew. The scene was so clear and I could not get rid of the vision; it kept haunting me for days. I decided I had to find out what it meant. The thought stayed in my brain for months until I had enough of a piece of time to sit down, figure it out, and begin to write down some thoughts. I had to situate her in a time and place; once that was done the story took on a life of its own.
August 24, 2016
Red silk and hair pin. Photo: Jean Cullander
At that same time, I was reading Herman Hesse and came across his book Damian. The young man in the story, Damian, would draw a face and then several weeks later would suddenly meet that person for the first time. I realized that I was experiencing some of the same images. This recognition gave me the courage to accept what I was doing and Hesse’s book marked a transformative experience at that time in my life. However, I had only used this in the visual arts, not in writing. So seeing the woman in red through this intense dream pushed me in a new direction. The image was so powerful, it forced me to tell her story, the resulting story that emerged.
As an artist, I often have had visions in a dream or a daydream of something I needed to explore in drawing or paint, or even lithographs. One day several years ago, looking at my artwork, someone told me the images represented Carl Jung’s architypes. I had not read Jung’s work and decided not to read it for a long while, so my images would not be influenced by his writings. When I finally did study Jung’s theories, I realized those haunting images were driving my visual renderings.
The Creative Process
Several years ago I wrote a short piece on the creative process that relates to my artwork.
“The images in my work are dreamlike and fanciful. Occasionally dreams provide visions which I then transform into a clear visual image. Other images reveal themselves to me in the process of painting: I often begin working without a preconceived idea of the final outcome, simply letting my hand and mind wander unedited. I also draw upon the visual vocabulary that has evolved over the years in my drawings, prints, and paintings.”
From: Stanford Artists in New York, Dalton, MA: Studley Press, 1987