I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am a butterfly, dreaming I am a man.
-Zhuang Zi (a.k.a. Chuang Chou, Zhuang Zhu, etc..)
Was watching the movie Inception while my boyfriend slept intermittently on the couch. He’d wake up with some vivid dreams and I would tell him that he’s still dreaming just to mess with him. Both the movie, his dreams, and this butterfly I began to draw all afternoon reminded me of this Zhuang Zi’s quote.
I remember reading Zhuang Zi’s works when I took an Asian Philosophy course during my undergraduate years. Maybe life is just a dream. Some of my dreams bring me such epiphanies that they feel more vivid than my waking life. Usually, drawing puts me into a dreamlike state during my waking hours as I let my subconscious produce an image that surprises even me. Other times, I search for some inspiration so I can plan out my drawing for the day, like today.
Near Pratt University in Brooklyn, there’s a lady who sells her extensive art book collection every Saturday morning down the street. I finally bought one from her. It’s called, America 1585: The Complete Drawings of John White by Paul Hulton. John White sailed to the New World and illustrated what he found here. I borrowed one of his illustrations of the “Swallow-tail Butterfly” for inspiration. Took a fine tip Sharpie and tried my hand at pointillism again for most of it.
And here’s the completed drawing.