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  • Writer's pictureHaydn Dickenson


Many years ago, during a particularly difficult time in my life, I embarked on a course of hypnotherapy.

I remember my therapist, when she was putting me 'under', asking me to imagine stepping onto a descending escalator and going “down, down, down”. I still find this a most persuasive image, and I think of it often.

While I wouldn't pretend that the act of painting is fully akin to a state of hypnosis, there do seem to me to be some similarities. Hypnosis means mystery, the unknown (at least consciously), discovery, revelation, catharsis.

I have referred before, in these articles, to the image of opening a door which is the act of transcending the blankness of the canvas, of going beyond it into releasing the first mark, of becoming one with the nascent work.

I am reminded of how my great piano teacher Peter Feuchtwanger instilled in his disciples the need to make movements at the piano without premeditation. In this way, the player would become one with the instrument, there would be no superfluous motion, and all unnecessary physical tension would be released. Abstract painting is no different; there must be no constraints, and as little as possible should be preordained.

A STRETCH OF THE IMAGINATION - Haydn Dickenson (2021)

“Down, down, down” the metaphorical escalator I went while sitting in my therapist's chair nearly twenty years ago. Reminiscent of this experience is that 'opening of the door' into the altered state which I enter when painting. A degree of trance is achieved, during which I am relatively unaware of external stimuli, and am guided by the emerging painting rather than in charge of it.

As an artist and a human, one is always growing. I never wish to stand still in my Art. Art is a mirror, and it is a journey. One of my favourite poems is “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost, from which I quote:

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep”

BUT I HAVE PROMISES TO KEEP - Haydn Dickenson (2015)

Sometimes I descend that escalator; on other occasions I walk, 'with miles to go...' into those deep woods, full of wonder, full of discovery, full of the unexpected.

Copyright Haydn Dickenson 2023


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