2011 Painting for a Purpose Photos: T.Van Stein

Picasso, Einstein, Van Stein, Stars Align. Nov. 3, 2011

Picasso and Croissants by Robert Doisneau

As William Shakespeare once wrote in the Tempest, "We are such stuff that dreams are made of." Here is my dream made manifest:

Around 15 years ago I had a dream. In the dream, I was painting at Santa Clause Lane Beach. My subject was an Moorish type building called Casa Blanca, at the East end of the beach. I finished the painting, then looked up to my left and saw Pablo Picasso walking toward me. We exchanged greetings and then he asked to see what it was I was painting. I showed him my seascape to which he nodded approvingly. He then asked if I would allow him to show me something to which I agreed, and handed over my brush to him. I watched him take my painting from a pretty picture seascape, and paint a horse straddling above the Moorish buildings with its front hooves in the waves and it's head drinking from the Pacific Ocean. I expressed to him how cool it was for me to witness this transformation of something that wasn't there to something that was...so...illogical. But, on some level, it worked.

And then the dream ended

I let this concept gestate for all these years, and then this last week, on October 26, I took my painting  Plein air painting class to that approximate spot on the beach where I had dreamt of my encounter with Picasso.  On the class syllabus I'd titled that day's painting location, the "Beach of Geniuses". After my class  had done a couple of 30 minute quick sketch seascapes, I told them the story of how in the 1950's Albert Einstein walked in that very location and gazed out to sea. I then shared with my class my Picasso dream, and the art lesson he gave me in that dream, and then, how I was going to surrender and paint what I saw in that dream as a demonstration painting for the class.

Albert Einstein Imagines the Tides of Time

I began to paint the seascape in a way I felt was different than any method I'd ever tried before; using a palette of colors unlike I'd ever combined. It was all unknown to me, and during the painting's evolution I kept exclaiming how I have no idea what I am doing or what will happen as a result, but I am willing to try to bring the dream world vision into this dimension. Once I felt I'd freely expressed the seascape aspect of the painting I moved on to paint the horse, rising up out of the castle, and drinking from the ocean. I did my best to configure it between abstract expresstionism and realism. This was a liberating alignment for me merely to share the story, then bring about the spirit into form. In retrospect, Picasso would have considered my painting a preliminary sketch which he would have deconstructed in a matter of minutes. I am not there yet.

Quick Sketch on left, Dream Scape on Right. Photo: Bill Hull

That evening I was reading through the Santa Barbara Independent and came to Rob Brezsny's  weekly column on Astrology. Reading what he wrote for Virgo, (My Sun Sign) I about fell out of my chair. It read, "When I read a book on Einstein's physics of which I understood nothing, it doesn't matter," testified Pablo Picasso, "because it will make me understand something else."

So, out there on the edge, I attempted to bring spirit into form with the aid and communion of the Master's who rode the tide that day on the beach; and astrologically speaking, the stars aligned for that moment in time.

Picasso Dream Scape  9x12 oil/board 2011