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After some practice you may start to feel comfortable doing this throughout the day. It may even become effortless.

This is your IMAGINATIVE photographic memory. Feel free to change and alter things. Some of my favorites and things I suggest you try are:

  • Simplify
  • Enhance
  • Magnify
  • Adjust contrast
  • Change time of day
  • Change the season
  • Change the weather
  • Invent/change color schemes, lighting, and textures
  • Rotate
  • Twist
  • Warp
  • Make it look like an ink, pencil, or contour drawing
  • Change, add, and rearrange elements
I'm sure that you can think of many more. Take a look at the filters in your favorite paint program or look at various master art styles for more ideas.

O

Here is another fun thing to do. Pick up a book with high-quality photographs of people and swap them with ones from your own imagination, but keep the same basic poses and "feel." Try running an imaginary magnifying glass over the pictures.

Now would be a good time to look over those anatomy books again. You can use your "mind's eye" to add, change, or enhance the anatomy in models that you copy. Plus, if you invent anatomy, it will be that much more realistic.

One more fun thing to try before moving on. Using your dream body, step completely inside your favorite painting or landscape. FEEL and realize that you are inside the scenery. You can try this with your favorite paintings. Amazing.

We've touched on two of the powerful visualization techniques, so far:  The dream body and the imaginative photographic memory.

Before we move to the next technique, I think it might be important to classify the various types of imagery.

Symbolic Imagery (left brain dominant):
Characterized as being extremely simple, iconic, and stereotyped. It may also be thought to reside in "one's head", in a void, and is generally on a simple background.

Inventive/Logical Imagery (left+right brain):
This imagery is characterized as being inventive in nature, having perfect forms, animate(able), and usually simplified.

Creative Imagery: (right brain dominant):
Characterized by feeling larger, more dynamic, complex, whole, and animated. This, also, differs from logical imagery in that it generally has stronger basis to memory, sensations, and feelings.

Creative Imagery + Sense of Location (right brain dominant):
Same as creative imagery but with the feeling of location and immersion. This imagery is more dream-like and may have peripheral-vision features. This is the imagery of the dream body. It is usually accompanied by the sensations of touch, sound, physical balance, strong feelings, and, possibly, olfactory sensations.

I doubt these match the classical psychological categorizations for visual memory, but they are useful for our purposes.

You can observe the primary type of visualization that you use, whether it is creative, inventive, or symbolic in nature.

The next technique may come naturally after you've practiced the earlier techniques. And I feel this is the most powerful technique, especially when used in conjunction with the dream body.

O

It did not really matter if you did the previous techniques with your eyes open or closed. I think the natural tendency is to move to visualizing more and more with the eyes open.

Projection is the ability to project images and 3D objects out in front of you or onto surfaces around you.

I feel that projection when used in conjunction with the dream body can be of amazing benefit to the artist who desires to work without reference or copying. It has a good many uses for those who desire to work from the model, too.

First, image projection is not true hallucination. Nor is it "pretending" to see something that doesn't exist.

I do not call it hallucination, because:

  1. Hallucination is defined as an illusory perception. Projection is not a perception but an imaginative conception of the mind.

  2. Hallucination has a bad rap. Plus, calling it "hallucination" would place more emphasis on the perception of the image when the emphasis should be placed on the conception or generation of the image.

It may be hard to understand how image projection as I describe it is not "pretending" to see something nor is it hallucination.

I will explain it in detail so that you will have the ability to practice it and understand it.

Image projection relies on your ability to invent imaginative imagery in your mind and multiplex, merge, or superimpose this with a mental "snap shot" of the outside imagery.

Here is a schematic of how it works:

Eye ->> Gets the outside image
Brain ->> Processes image
Brain ->> Invents imaginary object or image
Brain ->> Superimposes imaginary object with processed image from real world
You ->> See projected image or object on surface in front of you with eyes open

You may also view it as looking at mental imagery in front of you with your eyes open while still processing external imagery.

If you did the apple experiment and used the dream body, then you should be familiar with it already. You should have felt the "apple" was in front of your dream body or "out there" in relation to your dream body.

You should also be familiar with the imaginative photographic memory. I think this is an important part of learning the technique.

There are a few ways to start projecting. The important thing to remember is that you are seeing with your mind's eye and not with your physical eyes. Also, be sure to relax and play with it.

O

You may start by projecting simple colors in front of you.

Is it working? Good. If not, then you may find it easier to project full objects.

Use the dream body to invent an object and then project it in front of you.

Many times I find it easier to invent objects of a projected nature than I do without projecting them.

Try projecting a life-like human in front of you about the size of a large toy.

Wow, did it work? Allow yourself some time to observe the toy-human run across your desk.

Pick up the imaginary toy. Hold it up to your eyes. Can you see more detail in it? Feel free to rotate it and examine it from all angles.

You may want to give it some friends and props. For example, try projecting a chair, motorcycle, car, or other elements that can help to make up a small world for the toy.

Of course, you are seeing it with your mind's eye, but the very real environment that surrounds you can make your visualizations so much more interesting!

You may find it easier to invent an object of a projected nature with your eyes open than with your eyes closed!

O

Go outside, after reading this, and stand near a large tree or building. Project a huge giant near it. Walk under it. Examine it. Imagine what it'd be like if it were to pick you up.

Project similar forms at various distances and in different poses. Project a horse and then project groups of horses. Try to see how many things you can project at one time.

Feel free to project things at different sizes, too. You may want to work with life-size objects, larger-than-life size, or toy-sized objects.

Try projecting animals animated, freeze-framed, and "animated" as multiple still frames. Allow the still frames of "animation" to move in all of the various dimensions of space, and then limit this action to one plane or dimension. Play with it.

Imagine how a plant grows. See this happening. See the green branches sprouting out, dividing, twisting, turning, and reaching out.

Were your projected images even more realistic than you would have imagined them without projecting? Great. And — was it even easier than trying to "imagine in your head"? Wonderful.

I imagine you are overflowing with ideas of how to use these techniques in your own art. I suggest you try it but approach it in a care-free manner.

O

Here are some ways that image projection can help your artwork:

  1. Instantly generate amazingly detailed and life-like objects.
  2. Invent imaginary props to copy from and "see" in front of you.
  3. Project completed drawings from your imagination. Either trace or copy these drawings.
  4. Copy the live model, but use projection to add anatomy, details, lighting, and effects that do not exist or that are too hard to really see.

Now, some words of wisdom for those people who are not getting it or the amazing results I speak of.

Be sure to relax and don't put too much pressure on yourself. Allow it some time to sink in. Remember the postulates or foundations of the system that affirm your creative mind and your keen skills of observation.

If you can do only one part of the system or technique, then do it, and try the other parts later.

I think the imaginative photographic memory is important to the system as a whole. It is great practice, and you can do it virtually at any time.

O

Realize your imagination has the uncanny ability to act as you think it should act. If you feel that you can't do a certain type of visualization, then you quite simply will not be able to. But when you tell yourself you can, then the visualization powers will do just as they should — work.

All of the techniques are powerful and work great together. If you have trouble doing one technique one day, then use another. They work really great together. Try projecting, using the dream body and the imaginative photographic memory as harmonious aides.

One of the most fun and rewarding things to do is to use the imaginative photographic memory and image projection together to play with lighting effects. For instance, imagine looking at everything around you through a melting cube of ice, a dusty haze, a cold winter's night, or maybe the conditions are right for an amazing purple-orange sunset.

O

The techniques and system I've described should be enough to get you started, but you may (or may not) have trouble deciding on what to do draw, given the vast potentials.

This is probably one of the harder things to decide on. And this is one of my biggest problems, but I still have a few suggestions:

  1. Notice the type of imagery you get on a day-to-day basis. Draw on this imagery and look for imagery that is especially interesting.

  2. Work with your dream body, projection, and your imagination to come up with a painting you really want to do before starting on it.

  3. Play with it. Sketch out a few quick concepts. Be flexible.

  4. Be spontaneous. Try to capture whatever comes to you as fast as possible.

  5. Realize that narrowing down the options is a good thing to do. You will probably start to notice a few images, paintings, or feelings you want to capture.

The other major problem people have is that they can't freeze their imagery. This problem can be minimized by using a good drawing process, realizing that you don't have to see all the details at all times, and stating some positive affirmations. Below are a few affirmations to get you started:

  1. I have an amazingly visual mind.
  2. I can invent any object, setting, place, or thing I desire at will and without effort.
  3. I can rotate, manipulate, and alter this imagery in any way I desire.
  4. I can freeze any imagery and see it in complete detail when I desire.
  5. The details, imagery, and great ideas I desire come to me when I need them and it is easy.

You are encouraged to create your own personal affirmations.

I think you should have enough ideas of how the processes work to start using them in your own art.

O

You may realize many other areas of your personal or professional life where these techniques can be valuable. Variations of these techniques can be useful for the writer, designer, athlete, scientist, musician, and inventor.

If you are a writer, you can describe your characters in exquisite detail by using your dream body and describing the people you really see. You can really go to strange lands and smell, hear, and see amazing things that people will be interested in.

If you are or want to be a musician, then you can practice by playing your favorite instrument via your dream body. Really hear the sounds you make with it. You might even want to use your dream body to visit exotic places that feature beautiful and strange music. You can use this as source of your own inspiration. You may wish to use the amazing power of imagination to make a room or environment more comfortable for you. You can imagine that there is no ceiling above you, and that the grand canyon spreads out behind and before you. You may even see a few birds fly by. You may change the time of day to one you would like. Take time to hear and feel a waterfall. Do this for a few minutes and then allow yourself to "forget" about the changes you made. You will still be able to enjoy the positive side effects of the environment, and you may even be a little surprised when you "wake up".

There are countless more examples of how these techniques and variations of them can be beneficial.

You can use some or all of the features of the dream body when reading a book. See the scene fold out before your eyes. Allow the scene to wrap around you, hear the accents and intonations in the dialogue, and really feel the atmosphere.

Play with these techniques while watching a movie, especially one with great visuals. Use these techniques to become an active participant in the movie and not just a passive element. Allow the imagery on the screen to wrap around you and become part of your own environment.

You might want to use these techniques in combination with mnemonics or image maps to create 3D landscapes to aid your memory.

I hope you've gained a renewed source of inspiration and creativity from these techniques and that they will continue to reward and amaze you.

I encourage you to drop me an e-mail if you were especially inspired or found these techniques to be very useful.

I bid you good visualizations and never-ending wonder.

O

— Curtis White


Curtis White has a background, and active interest, in computer programming, art, and game design, as well as in lucid dream theory, creative learning strategies, and visualization techniques. He is currently collecting ideas, notes, and developing practices to expand on the core techniques discussed in this article, to create a practical framework for the imaginative artist. Many new ideas dealing with the practical realization of the goals of this article are being realized all the time, and Curtis hopes to be able to share this progress in the near future.


See more tips for artists in Winsights No. 58,
"The Art Studies Technique."

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