From Nightmares to Art


Art has more sources of inspiration than can be imagined. But fascinated by the dark side of humanity and the art it produces, I wanted to look for artists that have been inspired by or created works from nightmares. There are a number of great artist, writers, directors, and musicians who have claimed their work began with a dream. And some ponder whether this is the way muses get their messages across.

As the current book I’m writing has provided it’s fair share of nightmares -both this time around and on the previous two occasions I attempted to write it- I thought I would take a mosey through works  of art that began with a nightmare. So I didn’t feel quite so alone with my demons.

Written Art: Bound in the writers skin – Misery

Like the ideas for some of my other novels, that came to me in a dream… I fell asleep on the plane, and dreamt about a woman who held a writer prisoner and killed him, skinned him, fed the remains to her pig and bound his novel in human skin. His skin, the writer’s skin. I said to myself, ‘I have to write this story.’ Of course, the plot changed quite a bit in the telling. But I wrote the first forty or fifty pages right on the landing here, between the ground floor and the first floor of the hotel. – Stephen King [from Writing Forward]

Not everyone remembers their dreams in such detail, and my friends and family are often surprised by the detail I see in mine. Although, given the nature of nightmares I don’t share all of them.

Photographic Art: Daymares from artist Arthur Tress

The inspiration for which came from a class of children describing, drawing, and writing, their dreams. You can read the full story on the Huffington Post

nightmares to art
[Image from Huffington Post] I share this one because it reminds me of a nightmare I once had, involving a wooden ship in a desert wasteland, and white zombie rats eating my legs.

An Opinion On Dreams – Edgar Allan Poe

That dreams, or, as they were then generally called, visions, were a means of supernatural instruction, if we believe the bible at all, is proved by Jacob’s dream, the several visions of Ezekiel and other prophets, as also of later date, the Revelations to Saint John; and there appears no reason why this mode of divine communication should be discontinued in the present day. – An Opinion On Dreams, Edgar Allan Poe, 1839 [found in 8 Famous Ideas That Came From Dreams (Literally)]

They say he wrote a number of his poems and short stories after significant nightmares. How amazing to be able to interpret a dream so vividly that others can experience their own nightmares from it.

Even Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein began with a dream (and a competition)

But she isn’t the only one, the first, or the last. Many artists have dreams that inspire their work. Including musicians like John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Jimmy Hendrix, and Sting. Or directors who used lucid dreaming to inspire their movies such as James Cameron and Chris Nolan.

But how many begin their art only to give themselves nightmares? Have you?

Kate xxx