The artist is painting on canvas, but her reference is all program books and disks.


So, I’ve been thinking…

Yesterday, the challenge was to come up with a name for the blog.

That was hard. I’m not good at naming things.

But – I had a conversation with a friend once, decades ago, and it’s been in the back of my mind ever since. 

She said that she was really people-oriented. For her, life was all about relationships with others. Her husband, she told me, was thing-oriented. People weren’t terribly important to him. He tended to have a very mechanistic view of the world, and thought in terms of what things were available, and how he could use them.
She asked me what my orientation was.

Child finding a homunculus in a bottle.
You never know what you’ll find on your teacher’s desk. ©1983 Robin Wood

I had to think about it for a while. And I realized that mine was more of a dream-orientation. I looked for symbolism and layered meaning in things. I was interested in why people did things, and their philosophy and world-view, more than I was in anything else about them. And I was steeped in dreams and magic, to the extent that I was barely aware of the world around me, more than half the time.

When I was looking for a name yesterday, I tried to find one that fit that inner picture. A name that evokes someone sitting cross-legged in the shadows, lifting their hands, flicking their fingers, and weaving beauty and magic out of shimmering strands of dream-stuff.

All the good names – Dreamspinner, Dreamweaver, Dreamdancer, Dreamsomething – were taken. I wound up calling the blog “Tangent Lass” which is my Secret Super Power.

But it made me think.

When I had that long-ago conversation with my friend, I was painting and drawing for my living. The pictures that I crafted were saturated with dreams. I did a lot of fantasy, and fantasy breaking into the waking world. Suburban children stepping between two tree trunks and finding Fairyland. A child in rags, holding streaming light in his cupped hands. A tiny fairy child curled in a walnut shell, sound asleep. A little boy in a striped shirt cuddling a baby griffin. You get the idea.

A dragon and his harper, with a treasure detail.
Music Lover – note the hood ornament from a 1937 Packard. ©1985 Robin Wood

Not long after that conversation, I started to work as a professional illustrator, doing book and magazine covers. I worked for TSR, of Dungeons and Dragons fame, and for a long time, I was able to do much the same sort of thing I’d been painting on my own. A young woman playing the harp for a silver dragon. A young man kneeling to receive a magical sword from a ghost. A young woman stealing a firebird.

But I wasn’t drawing for myself, and so I wasn’t able to have the dream intrude on waking life as much. I still did, to some extent, tucking what one of my art directors termed “Woodisms” into the corners of my paintings. The hood ornament from a 1937 Packard in the dragon’s treasure, for instance, or a couple of toy Firebird cars in the picture of the thief.

But it wasn’t the same.

hen my health broke, and I wasn’t able to paint any more. (This, kids, is why you should not work 14-16 hours a day, seven days a week, for months and years on end.)

A magic crystal ball glows on a dusty, forgotten shelf.
Childhood Magic, neglected and forgotten, but still alive. ©2004 Robin Wood

For a while after that, I worked on the computer instead, creating whatever I felt like creating. Some of those pictures were entirely magical, though there were plenty that danced in the Borderlands between sleeping and waking, dreams and ordinary life.

But life is never static, and mine changed again. Due to a number of things I’m not going to take the time to explain just now, I wound up spending a lot of time in Second Life®.

I’m a Content Creator there. I started by simply selling images of my paintings. But more and more, I built things to sell. Things I wanted to have, and things my friends wanted to have.

Last night, I realized that between one thing and another, almost all the things I’ve been making, for most of the ten years I’ve been in SL (as we call it,) have been totally mundane things. Things that look like stuff you’d find in the Real World. Blue jeans, Hawaiian shirts, Mary Jane shoes. Perfectly ordinary tables and chairs. Metal patio furniture from mid-century America. Common-place stuff.

Which is great; but I realized it’s not great for me.

It’s not my vision. It’s not my part of the Elephant. It’s not my particular corner of the Collective Unconscious.

The things I need to be doing, the food my soul craves, I cannot find in Second Life.

Not that there’s not plenty of magic there. There is. It’s not even slightly bound by reality. But it is bound by all kinds of other limitations; not the least of which are market limitations, since having a “sim” there (a single server that houses the data for your “island”) costs $300 US a month.

In order to earn that money, I find myself endlessly churning out things that I think people might want to buy. And since they don’t want to spend more than pennies on anything, it’s not easy to do.

I realized yesterday that it’s probably time for me to stop. To cut my losses, and do other things.

The dreams never ended.

Perhaps it’s time to share them with the world once again.

4 thoughts on “Dreaming”

  1. I love your pictures. Didn’t understand what you meant by Secondlife at first. Love your words “It’s not my part of the Elephant.” because of the mental picture it gives me.

      1. Will check it out. Just figured Second Life out by reading your post, and a vague memory that I had read something about “Second Life” in a book I read a while ago.

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