Louis Dyer is a visionary artist and illustrator from Plymouth, UK. At just 22 years old he has already spawned some fantastic and original graphic works based on his experiences of lucid dreams and astral projections.
Louis is a refined digital painter with awesome speed painting skills; he can produce beautiful images in just a few hours. Painting affords Louis the opportunity to make intangible images more concrete, and to inspire others towards positive self development through his art.
This week I had the pleasure of probing his creative process - finding out about the origins of his visionary art, how he manifests it on canvas, and what these experiences mean to him as someone who communicates the sublime experience of lucidity to the earthly waking world...
My first lucid dream was triggered by my terrifying sleep apnea experiences. I was 16 and I randomly started getting sleep paralysis episodes. The one that triggered my first lucid dream was particularly bad but it made me conscious of myself while sleeping. I couldn't wake myself up but this realisation suddenly relaxed me.
As the sleep apnea episode faded I was suddenly in a beautiful landscape, I started running up a hill and when I hit the top I jumped off the edge. As I was falling I was completely lucid, everything was so clear, I could feel the air rushing past me as I fell, I could feel the warmth of the sun beams and control the clouds with my hands. This was my first lucid dream, it was brief but it was really special.
I Will Drag Us There
Lucid dreams have proved to be a bountiful source of both inspiration and imagery. A lot of the time I am naturally presented with imagery that blows me away such as beautiful fantasy / sci-fi landscapes. However I am currently writing a short book that teaches artists how actively seek artistic inspiration from their own lucid dreams...
For example, I have found techniques for manifesting complete paintings in the dream world. I can do this by visiting art galleries, libraries and exhibitions in the dream world. I often see completed paintings that are just there ready for me to take back to the waking world. It's an amazingly interesting thing to experience, but I have found the pieces normally lack any depth or real meaning.
Other sources include sudden realisations and inspiring messages. During my lucid dreams I have sudden realisations regarding my personal development, these lucid thoughts give so much insight, inspiration and empowerment that they can be used to really inform an art piece.
I have many pieces inspired from my lucid dreams but my favourite ones are probably some of my oldest paintings. Although technically they are not my strongest pieces, they are my some of my favourite because these paintings really stand as landmarks in my spiritual development and consciousness experiments...
Running was inspired by my very first lucid dream, after a moment of sleep paralysis I realised I was dreaming. I then found myself running up a hill and jumping off into oblivion. I did not want to paint the lucid part where I was falling through the clouds. I felt that the build-up to that experience would be more relatable and for me more satisfying to illustrate as it was the real start of my alternative consciousness development.
Blue was inspired from one of my earliest bad lucid dreams. I was staring at the moon one night and somehow fell asleep with my head on my window sill. This led to a dream where I found myself in space hanging upside down and being strangled around my neck. It felt like everything about myself was being taken away... in the end I became more lucid and could free myself.
So for this piece I felt like illustrating myself being hung underwater to replicate the weightlessness and pressure of the atmosphere. The piece was starting to look a little to literal so I decided to add hummingbirds to give it a dreamy surreal effect.
Flying Dream really stands as a landmark in my development, it was created soon after I realised I could fly in my lucid dreams. It took me a few times to get the hang of it but it was such a revelation! In the dream I found myself in my childhood bedroom facing my window, I was lucid so I knew that if I believed I could pass through the glass and fly that I would.
So I started flying. I was actually flapping my arms like a bird to fly. I flew around my city... there were seagulls and dinosaurs on the ground that were watching me fly. I ended up in a glass futuristic city. I landed and walked up to a busy mall-like building, saw my reflection in the glass and reached out to touch the building. As I did I thought "Wow! I have to wake up to record this."
I created a portrait piece to commemorate the achievement. I decided soon after to keep a dream journal again as I wanted to explore my mind further than I ever had before.
After being woken up at 4 o'clock in the morning, I fell asleep back into the most beautiful dimension of the dream (or astral) world that I have ever seen. It literately was the best experience of my life!
I would only astral project for 3 minutes or so until I would loose focus and have to ‘re-spawn'. My vision was super sharp after becoming accustomed to the place, and I started to feel and hear everything. I could touch everything from people to cars - but also move through them and feel their dense vibrations. I would re-spawn in my current flat, then back in time to my old bedroom, and then back in time again to my childhood bedroom which had all my old clothes and toys.
I meditated in this strange place to find myself moving towards the most psychedelic unfolding of geometric shapes and patterns. I have never taken a strong entheogen before but I imagine what I saw wasn't so different. I realised I was traveling upwards and I became the geometric light show. I manifested my hand that now held and controlled the violent inspiring display.
After traveling upwards again I ended up in my same bedroom, but things were brighter and more lucid. I decided to fly to see where I was. I always fly in my lucid dreams, but I have never done so for as long as I did last night, I could fly with total control, grasping on leaves as I flew above trees, twisting and turning without the landscape fading away or becoming blurred, everything felt like it was stable and had its own fixed location.
I ended up in a strange kind of city that looked like a collective memory bank of other people's homes and memories. I flew to the highest point of a super huge tree and wondered about how and why have I never experienced something like this after years of vision seeking.
I didn't see any pieces of art while in this state which I now realise is a shame, but I did have a lizard that had branches of holly for wings land on me!
The Other Side
Some people believe in an astral realm that exists outside our bodies but I personally believe it's a deeper level of our inner consciousness; located in the very depths of ourselves.
I have found that the deeper into a dream or astral experience I go, the more intense the visuals are which include vibrant colours, brightness and geometric patterns. I think they are simply abstract information stored in a deeper level of our unconscious mind.
We can see similar visuals under the influence of strong entheogens such as DMT, so I think these geometric patterns are not unique to astral experiences but again are manifestations of information from our unconscious mind.
I guess I am at a point now where my art is reflecting a unity of all things related to developing consciousness. I am expressing my awe and wonder from all of my visionary experiences; whether they are lucid dreams, astral projections or meditations and trances. Visually the experiences are often very vivid and colourful, so I feel it's important to replicate these similar aesthetics in my art.
One difference I have noticed between my artistic interpretation of the different visionary experiences is this: most of my lucid dream inspired artwork is heavily coloured in blue and my astral projection inspired art is coloured purple...
In my older work and especially in my lucid dreaming pieces, the person in the paintings was myself. I felt it necessary to place myself in these pieces as they were always so personal. However now I have moved away from focusing on myself and often paint what I call visionary entities.
For those of us who explore the boundaries of consciousness via natural or artificial methods such as dreams, OBEs and entheogens such as DMT... While in the peak of an experience, we often come into contact with visionary entities. These entities vary in appearance, acquiring features found in insects, clowns, elves, alien bodies, and so on. But what interests me is how sometimes these entities have a close resemblance to the human form. It's a common experience that these entities appear to teach the explorer a lesson or to pass on a message. Sometimes they can appear as malevolent beings who abuse and torture us - or god-like beings who love and enlighten us. Whichever the experience and whoever the entity, you never forget these encounters.
Blind To The World, Seeking Deeper Realities
I have had many dark dreams but very few stay dark and scary once I am lucid... because then I can wake myself up or change the situation I'm in. The act of painting definitely enables me to reflect on the experiences and rationalise what they were about.
I would say just start creating in any media you are comfortable with. My first digital paintings were made in MS Paint with a simple mouse - now I use professional software and hardware as my ability has progressed.
If you want to create a picture based on a lucid dream, it's best to keep a regular dream journal. That way your memories of the dream will be more vivid and you can make sketches once you have woken up. Keeping a visual dream journal is also a fun thing to do; for a while I recorded my dreams through daily paintings.
Lastly, the best advice I can give is to just have fun creating. Try not to have any fear when facing a blank piece of paper or canvas. A great technique I often use is to cover the canvas with random colours and shapes. Most of the time, pictures start to form naturally and from there you can render what you see amongst the chaos!
Kingdom of Dreams
If we're completely honest, lucid dreaming isn't really known for being the most social of interests. In fact, often it's a lone pursuit - just you, your dream journal and the landscape of your mind. But this technique called PAL (or Partner Assisted Lucidity) breaks down that wall and turns lucid dream exploration into a social event.
Members of our lucid dream forum have been asking how to create dream characters in lucid dreams. The most common problem is having characters who look nothing like they should. Or they seem disinterested in your company. Or they fail to show up on command altogether. So, how to combat this? It's a matter of finding creative solutions that bypass logical expectations.
To lucid dream, I recommend being able to remember at least one vivid dream per night. That will boost your self awareness in dreams (making lucidity more likely) and also means you can actually remember your lucid dreams. Which is nice. Here are four detailed tips on how to remember your dreams more frequently. And if you don't think you dream at all - trust me, you almost certainly do. It takes an extraordinarily rare sleep disorder to deprive someone of dream sleep.
It is estimated that these wise and wily Indians have been using mugwort in their healing and ritual practices for 13,000 years, where it is known as the ‘dream sage’. They use the herb to promote good dreams, which they consider an essential aspect of normal human functioning! But that’s not all...
Silene Capensis has been used for millennia by the Xhosa shaman of the river valleys in the eastern cape of South Africa, where it is known as Undela Ziimhlophe or 'white paths'. It's fragrant white flowers open only at night, when they emit a fragrant and almost hypnotising aroma. Also known as African Dream Herb or Ubulawu, Silene Capensis induces spectacularly vivid dreams - yet has never entered the mainstream and remains a fringe taste within western culture.
Experts agree that everyone is capable of having lucid dreams. Dreaming itself is a normal function of the mind. We all dream every night, even if we don't remember. And we all achieve conscious awareness while awake every single day. So what does it mean to combine these states? Why, the amazing ability to have conscious - or lucid - dreams. Sounds simple, doesn't it? So why do I keep hearing from people who say they can't achieve their first lucid dream?