Does Watercolor Paint Need to be Mixed With Water

Are you a beginner looking to start watercolor painting but don’t know if water is needed in the mixing process or not? Well, you don’t have to worry because this guide will give you an insight into if watercolor paint needs to be mixed with water or not. 

What You Need To Mix Watercolor Paint

To have a successful watercolor painting, it is important that you get the right materials. You will buy watercolour paint. Your success is dependent on getting the right supplies. Listed below are things you’ll need to mix your watercolor. 


Palette is a place for mixing your colors. You can either get the professional plastic palette from stores or improvise using any comfortable flat material for mixing. For instance, you can make use of an old plate. 


Water is an essential material in mixing watercolor. It is needed for bringing the paint to life and to give it consistency for it to be easily mixed. Perhaps you need the color of the paint to be adjusted. You can also use water for this. You can use water to control the lightness and darkness of watercolor paints

The water can be kept in a jar or glass near your palette. It would help if you didn’t fill the water jar or glass to the brim as you will be dipping brushes inside the glass or jar, and you wouldn’t want water to splash on your paintings.


The type of brush to be used depends on you. It depends on the type of effect you are working towards. You can test out different brush types to determine the one that will suit your needs. 

Does Watercolor Paint Need to be Mixed With Water

Work Surface

It would help if you had your work surface set up so that you can start work as soon as your mixed watercolor is ready. 

Scrap Paper

It is often advised that you get a neutral sheet of scrap paper and place it near your mixing area. This is so that you can test the color to see how it looks before painting directly on your workspace. 

You can get a white paper or one designed like your intended workspace. This is so that you can have a clear idea of how the color will be in your original work. 


You’ll need watercolor paints. You will buy watercolor paint. Depending on your preference, you can either get pressed cake forms or those in tubes. You can employ any of the mixing methods in this article to mix your watercolor paint set. 

Does Watercolor Paint Need to be Mixed With Water

Guide in Mixing Watercolor Paint

You may not believe it, but the materials needed for watercolor paint mixing are more demanding than the actual mixing process. 

Stage 1

The first thing is to decide on the watercolor paint set you’ll be needing. Say you want a violet. That means you’ll be mixing red and blue together. 

Stage 2

The next thing is to get your brush dipped in water. After this, dip the brush in one of the colors needed to arrive at your desired color. Some artists prefer to start their mixing with a dominant color, while some don’t care about dominance. Apply the color to your palette. You can add more, depending on the amount of color you need and the size of your mixing area. 

Stage 3

Wash the brush with water to get rid of the first color. Repeat stage three for the second color. You should, however, ensure that you don’t dab the second color directly into the first. Instead, it would help if you placed it beside the second color. This is to ensure you are mixing the right and even quantity of color. 

Stage 4

After stage three, ensure you clean the brush, wet it with water, and then proceed to mix. Ensure you evaluate the color as you mix. You can take a small sample out and apply it to scrap paper to check if the color meets your desired standard. 

If the color doesn’t meet your standard, you can wash the brush and add more paint from any of the colors. If there’s any other thing you need to adjust, you can do that during this stage.

Stage 5

Once you’ve gotten your desired color, you are good to go. All you have to do is to start painting. 

Does Watercolor Paint Need to be Mixed With Water

Tips on Mixing Watercolor Paint

Even though the above method may seem simple and straight, there may be some adjustments as you continue to hone your mixing skills. At times, your mixing process may go beyond just mixing two colors to achieve what you want. You may need to add extra color to achieve the right tone of color you need. For instance, trying to achieve forest or grass green, the difference in the quantity of yellow added might be all it takes to get the right tone of color. Also, the addition of a touch of blue to skin tones can give you the right undertone. 

Can Dried Up Watercolor Be Used? 

There are still a lot of things you can do with dried watercolor paint. Even though it seems dry, you can reactivate the paint by adding water. Once you add water, next is to use your brush to bring the paint back to life. Watercolor is water-soluble even in its dried state. If you are finding it difficult to access the paint, you can cut the tube open.  Click here for more essential watercolor techniques.

Does Watercolor Paint Need to be Mixed With Water

Is Water Needed For Watercolor?

Watercolor paint needs water to work optimally. It needs water for consistency. Aside from using water to adjust the color of the paint, it can also be used to make the color look lighter or darker. 

What is the Quantity of Water Needed For Watercolor?

While water is needed in mixing watercolor, the quantity of water and paint should be even. Meaning the paint mustn’t be too diluted or too concentrated. It would help if you tried to attain a 50/50 ratio. 

Is There A Need to Wet Watercolor Paper Before Painting?

If you don’t want your watercolor paper painting to crinkle after drying up, you should stretch before painting. But if you are in a rush, you should wet the paper some minutes before painting to have an even finish. 

When talking of watercolor, water is more or less the soul of watercolor. It is needed for mixing, color adjustment, and reactivation of watercolor paint. Thus, you always keep a water jar close to you anytime you deal with watercolor. 

Other Articles:

Things Beginners Should Know Before Embarking on Watercolor Painting
Things You Should Consider When Buying Water color Paint
How Do You Paint Watercolor? A Guide For Beginners

Essential Watercolor Techniques for Every Artist

Watercolor painting has been in existence for thousands of years. As a result, several techniques have emerged, and knowing some of these techniques is the only way you can master watercolor painting. This article plans to look at essential watercolor techniques for every artist. 

Get Good Quality Paints

If you want to enjoy your watercolor painting journey, you should consider getting good-quality watercolor paints. This can make the difference between remaining at your current level and moving to the next face. Paint with good quality also lasts longer when compared to those with less quality and does not degrade quickly. 

You should check different online stores and in-stores for brands that sell quality paints when you want to buy watercolour paint. If you are starting, you should test different brands to know the one that will work best for you and understand how watercolor paint works. When shopping for paint, you don’t need to buy every color you lay your hands on, but instead, buy the basic primary watercolor paint set as you can always mix them to get any other color you desire. 

Essential Watercolor Techniques for Every Artist

Practice color Bleeding

Bleeding colors into one another is another great watercolor paint technique. You can achieve this via the blooming technique. You can start by first adding water to pigment on your brush and applying it to the paper. While the stroke is still wet, add another color using the same quantity of water. At this point, you can manipulate the color to where they need to be. Wait for this to dry out, and you will notice subtle gradients all over the stroke.

Color Layering 

The nature of watercolor paints is that they are thin and water-based. Due to this, the building up of the color is a gradual process. This color building serves as an advantage such that you can mix different colors directly on the paper. 

To start with, apply one of the colors on your palette, wait till it dries and apply another shade of the color after you’ll see where the colors overlap, a mixture of the pigment, and finally observe a different color. If you’re looking for a technique to make fresh tones, this is your go-to technique. 

Essential Watercolor Techniques for Every Artist

Color Splattering

An excellent trick for adding energy to your watercolor paintings is the splatter work technique. It can be used to suggest water spray or floating dust. 

This technique is straightforward. All you have to do is place your brush between your thumb and middle finger. With your index finger, pull back the bristles and let them snap forward. It is an unpredictable method, but the outcome can be funny at times, so it is worth trying.

Work From Light to Dark

Another outstanding technique you need to master in watercolor painting is working from light to dark. This means that whatever is white or light in your watercolor painting must remain the same from the beginning until the end of your painting. It would be best if you constructed your values layer by layer till you achieve what you want. This can require a lot of time and planning from your end, but it’s always worth it. 

Get Your Textures Right

If you’re observant, you’ll notice that using watercolor paint on rougher paper has advantages. An obvious one is not having to stress yourself before achieving a nice texture. Having understood that, you must represent objects and materials, putting their texture into play, which means using wets and drys and lights and darks.  

Have Enough Stock of Paper Towels

An essential kit that must be part of your watercolor paint set is paper towels. They are more like kneaded erasers for your watercolor. An excellent way to add layers of details to your painting is to lay down a wash of color and lift part of it. You can also use paper towels to correct mistakes and redirect painting. 

Practice Color Pulling

Color pulling is another excellent technique in watercolor painting. It can show form, display light source, or edge. When a dry and more saturated stroke is used in watercolor painting, you can pull the stroke using only water. 

The technique is simple, and here is how you can get it done.

  • Apply a stroke with less amount of water
  • Use a not-too-wet brush to pull the color from the darker end of the stroke. 
  • Depending on the dryness of the initial stroke, pull the color as far as possible. 
Essential Watercolor Techniques for Every Artist

Get a Different Range of Brushes

It is always good to buy watercolor paint brushes of various types. The type of brush you’ll opt for will depend on the type and size of the piece you are comfortable working with. For instance, if you are the type that works with smaller art, then you are likely to work with brushes ranging from size 000 to six. 

While getting a specific size is good, it is often advised that you test out different sizes before deciding on which is your favorite. You should also test out smaller brushes than what you usually use. They might come in useful when trying to add details to your painting.

Explore Dry Against Wet

The two significant factors to consider when working with watercolor paint are wetness and dryness. Just as the name implies, watercolor paint is a water-based medium. Thus, you can manipulate the pigment saturation and the darkness depending on the amount of water added. There are several ways you can employ watercolor painting. The more you try, the more you’ll know the best method for you. To control your painting, you should practice working from dry to wet. 

There are several techniques in watercolor painting but mastering the techniques mentioned above puts you on an excellent pedestal to becoming a professional in the use of watercolor paint. 

How Do You Paint Watercolor? A Guide For Beginners

How Do You Paint Watercolor? A Guide For Beginners

Watercolor paint is a unique and versatile water-based medium. Despite its uniqueness and how simple water painting looks, it scares some beginners. Well, this may be normal because with every new step and adventure people are about to take, it looks scary at the start, but with time, it becomes more comfortable. 

If you’re a beginner in watercolor painting, and you’re scared of watercolor painting, or you are afraid of making mistakes. Well, you don’t need to because this article will give you an insight on how to paint watercolor as a beginner, materials you’ll need for watercolor painting, watercolour paint set, how to create your painting space, mapping out color references, practicing and how to select a project to work with. Sit back and have an excellent read.

Step by Step Guide To Watercolor Painting

Although watercolor painting might seem straightforward, there is some digging you have to do. Listed below are steps that will prepare you ahead and make your journey into the watercolor world successful and seamless. 

Step 1: Materials You’ll Need for Watercolor Painting

One beautiful thing about learning to use watercolor paint is that you don’t need many materials. Aside from ordinary water, listed below are other materials you will be needing. 

Watercolor Paint: There are several brands and styles of watercolor paint you can buy from.  When you want to buy watercolor paint as a beginner, you can get them in sets or as individual paints. While this is possible, it is often advised that you buy watercolor paint with a comprehensive set. As time goes on and your skill improves, you can construct your palette.

Watercolor Brushes: Watercolor brushes are distinct in nature in that each type of brush creates its own distinct effect. As a beginner, you don’t need an elaborate collection. The basic set is enough for you. However, you can decide to expand your watercolor paint set as you become more proficient with watercolor painting. This will help your art of creativity. 

Watercolor Paint Paper: Due to the wet nature of watercolor paint, the painting requires a specialized type of paper referred to as watercolor paper. As a beginner, you can start with the basic watercolor paper, but as you proceed, you can opt for the paper stretching to aid the cohesive adoption of your watercolor paints to the painting surface. 

Tape and Board: While these two materials are suitable, they are not compulsory. Some artists love to attach their watercolor paper to a board using masking tape. It would help if you noted that the board doesn’t have to be something extraordinary. It can simply be a flat surface. You can either use the professional painter’s tape or the standard masking tape to keep the watercolor paper fixed to the board. 

How Do You Paint Watercolor? A Guide For Beginners

Step 2: Create Your Painting Space 

Since you now have all your materials set, you need to create your painting area such that you’ll have all your materials right on the spot. You can get them anytime you need them. The water needed to mix your watercolor paints should also be there. 

If you are the type that doesn’t use a board, you should consider laying old newspapers or paper towels beneath your work area to protect surfaces. 

Step 3: Map Out Your color References

An excellent way to develop your watercolor paint theory and sharpen your mixing skills and brush technique is to develop color swatches. You can rely on this chart when you need watercolor ideas, or you are working on a new project. 

Creating a simple watercolor chart is easy. The first step is to get water, a small piece of watercolor paper, and your palette. Starting on the vertical end of the paper, enumerate all the colors in the palette. Rewrite the color list on the lower end of the paper in a horizontal direction moving from left to right. After this, using your watercolor paint and brushes, fill the grid, matching the colors and mixing them based on your labels. 

Step 4: Get Ready to Practice

The next thing is to get yourself warmed up with exercises to improve your painting skills. Your exercise can be anything from sketching, mixing, painting, or testing out your brush techniques. 

When it comes to practice, there’s no right or wrong way to go about it. So far, all you are doing will help you feel creative and connected to your learning process. 

Step 5: Select A Project to Work With

Now the fun time is over. It’s time to pick a real-time project to work on. Even if you’re a beginner, you should pick a project to work on. When choosing a project, you should identify a project that aligns with you or identifies with you as an artist. You can also go for an area of strength you would love to work on. 

How Do You Paint Watercolor? A Guide For Beginners

Tips For Watercolor Painting

Watercolor painting is an enjoyable and creative process, although it can be challenging. If you are looking to make your painting experience fun, here are some tips for you. 

  1. Create Time For Watercolor Painting: The first thing to do in honing your skill is to create time to practice. You can fix a painting session into your schedule or sign up for a painting class to make yourself accountable. Regular practice is an excellent way to hone skills. 
  1. Check Your Progress: Aside from creating time to practice, you should also create time to review your program. After each completed project, you should review your work to see how you improve. Review is essential in meeting your goals. 
  1. Take Your Time: An essential attribute in learning is patience. It would help if you took your time while learning. Learning can take time, so you should be patient with your learning process 

In all, watercolor painting might seem not to be too straightforward. However, sticking to the above tips is an excellent way to make things easy. Learning can take time. Thus it would help if you were patient with yourself. With regular practice, things will become easy for you. 

Things You Should Consider When Buying Water color Paint

Things You Should Consider When Buying Water color Paint

Watercolor paint comes in different varieties, so if you are not sure of what to buy, you need not worry because this article will tell you everything you need to know and consider when buying watercolor paint. 


There are several colors to select from, and their features vary from brand to brand. While you can produce any color by mixing the primary color(red, blue, and yellow), you should keep in mind that mixed colors are usually dull and lifeless. Single pigmented colors are more vibrant and intense. 

Understandably, most people can’t afford to buy a lot of water colour paints, so there’s a lot to consider when you are thinking of building a versatile color palette. You don’t have to worry much about this. There’s no right way to do this because choosing a color type is all about personal preference. Some artists can have up to 50 colors in the palette, while some can have just 10 colors. 

Things You Should Consider When Buying Water color Paint

If you are starting out, you only need basic colors in your palette, and as you gain more experience, you can add more colors and determine what works for you. 

It would help if you also considered getting an artist or student quality, depending on your budget. If you are buying your first set of watercolor paints, buying from a good brand is good for your starter color palette. You can add more as time goes on. 


The quality and properties of water colour paint differs from one brand to another but it doesn’t mean you can’t mix or match. You should note that no brand can be tagged the best. It all depends on individual preferences. Some manufacturers that are good at producing some colors aren’t that excellent with others. It is often advised that you try several colors from different brands and see the ones that align well with you. Once you have decided on the colors and brand you like, then you can start saving up to buy them in large quantities. 


Permanence is also an important factor to consider. It is defined as the ability of the paint to withstand exposure to light and humidity without fading, darkening or shifting colours. It is also called light fastness. If you’re going to make an art that lasts for generations, then you should take good note of this feature when buying your water color paint.

When buying, you should look out for ASTM rating on the packaging and go for nothing below “Excellent” or “Very Good” light fastness. 

Things You Should Consider When Buying Water color Paint

Staining Vs Non-Staining

There are some watercolor paints that penetrate the fiber of the paper on top which they are used—staining while others do not. 

If you want to buy watercolor paint for practice sake, you may not need to worry about this, but if you plan to use layering or “lift off” techniques, then you might need to consider having a good mixture of staining and non-staining paints

While these two properties are important, they are difficult to determine as all pigments fall between the continuum. What artists do to know what they have bought is. to first paint on a separate sheet of paper before the actual painting is done. To be on safer side, some employ the use of masking fluid.


Another factor to consider is transparency. An intriguing feature that watercolor paint is valued for is transparency. 

Simply put, transparency is the ability of light to pass through a paint and be able to reflect back off the white surface of a paper and give a great luminescent effect.

Watercolor paint can also be purchased as opaque watercolor. While these two properties are important, you might not need to worry about them if you’re just starting out. Some artists don’t believe in using opaque watercolour paint while some use it. As you grow in your painting experience, you’ll get to know if you need opaque watercolor paint or not. 

To know if a watercolor paint set is transparent or not, you should check the tube or the pan containing the paint. Another way to determine opaqueness and transparency is by doing a transparency test. 

A transparency test is simple. All you have to do is to use a permanent marker to draw a wide black line across a piece of paper. Stroke each of the colors bought across the line. After drying, the transparent color will seem to disappear while the opaque one will be visible or seem to leave a sediment behind.  


One of the most important things to consider when you want to buy watercolor paint is quality. Depending on what you want, you can get watercolor paint artists quality or in students quality. 

Artists watercolor paint sets contain high concentration of finely ground pigment with high performance rating. On the other hand, student’s quality watercolor paint can have cheaper pigments with more fillers and extenders. 

The choice to opt for is dependent on the artistic quality you are trying to achieve. Although you should keep in mind that artists quality watercolor paint is expensive, even at that, you’ll get value for your money as regards performance, superiority in transparency and intensity.

Suppose you are a beginner experimenting with new media, then you should consider starting with student quality. With time, you can incorporate the artistic quality into your work. You should however, note that if you’re ever going to create a painting that will last for generations, you will need an artist’s watercolor paint quality

Getting the right water colour paint while setting out might be a bit challenging but by putting into consideration the above mentioned points will make your buying journey easier. 

Things Beginners Should Know Before Embarking on Watercolor Painting

Things Beginners Should Know Before Embarking on Watercolor Painting

Have you considered embarking on watercolor painting, and have you been discouraged by people’s comments about watercolor paint? Or Have you watched YouTube videos, and the whole process looks simple, only to start, and everything seems frustrating? If you are in this position, you don’t need to worry because this article will give an insight into what you should know before embarking on watercolor painting. 

Plan Your Watercolor Paints Before You Start Painting

As a beginner, this might look stressful for you, but truth be told, it is always better to plan before you start painting with your watercolor paint. Planning may require you buy watercolour paint ahead.  If you don’t do this, your anxiousness about starting your painting as soon as possible can ruin a beautiful drawing that you could have achieved. 

You should remember that if your art is effective, it must depict harmony, unity, and coherence. To achieve this, you must ensure that all the elements and composition of the painting relate well and complement each other, including the watercolor paint used.

To avoid the clumsiness and unnecessary use of your watercolor paint set, you can start with a palette with a limited number of colors. Color planning is an excellent way to achieve a professional outcome.  

Get Paper Meant For Watercolor Painting

You may be frustrated if you are having difficulty with your watercolor paint supply. Thus it is important for you to get the right materials needed to get the job done. 

Buying the paper meant for watercolor painting will save you a lot of stress. It would be best if you got papers meant for water-soluble medium. 

If you are keen on improving the quality of your work, then you should avoid painting on cardboard or normal paper. 

It is often advised that you carry out detailed research to determine a watercolor paper brand that is of high quality. The more you grow in watercolor painting, the better you’ll be at deciding the best type of paper for you. You will decide if you like to work with hot press, cold press, rough, thick, or thinner watercolor paper. 

Things Beginners Should Know Before Embarking on Watercolor Painting

Start Painting Lightly and Transparently

As a beginner, you have to be conscious of your watercolor paint set application. It is always best to start painting your watercolor paint from light to dark. Meaning, your paint transparency shouldn’t be too thick and should be watery at the beginning of your painting. 

Once you start lightly, you can work your way up, adding layers upon layers and allowing each to dry before adding more layers. Doing this as a beginner will give you more control over your painting. 

You should also follow your picture reference to date. This you can do by placing the darker color on your painting exactly where they are on the picture reference. While doing this, you need to be more careful to avoid having a flat painting. Don’t forget that the details of your painting are what give it depth. 

Take Care of The Whites

You may find this a bit difficult to do if you are starting, but with time, you’ll get comfortable with it. Remember, it was mentioned earlier that watercolor painting is all about playing. 

Right from the beginning of your painting, you should identify where the lightest areas will be and desire to protect them throughout your painting. 

Use Light Pencil Sketches When Dealing With Watercolor Paints

Due to the lightness in layers of watercolor paint, you have to be careful when drawing your sketches so that they don’t show in your final piece. 

You should apply your pencil lightly while sketching. After sketching, you can partially erase them using a soft and clean eraser. 

Using water-soluble gray colored pencils is also a great option. This pencil will automatically dissolve with your painting. You may not find this effective if your sense of observation isn’t that sharp. 

Things Beginners Should Know Before Embarking on Watercolor Painting

Avoid Using More Than Three Colors In A Mixture

In all types of painting, you need to understand how color works. The same also applies to watercolor painting. This is needed when you need to buy watercolor paint. You should clearly understand the color wheel and the result you’ll obtain when different colors are mixed. As a beginner, you should keep it simple by not using more than three colors. 

You can also make things easier by mixing your colors and testing them out on a separate sheet before applying them to your paintings. This will give you a picture of what to expect. 

Clean Brushes At Intervals

When painting, you shouldn’t take for granted that watercolor painting can be easily washed off the brushes you are using. You should ensure you remove the previous color before dipping your brush into another color. 

If you use the same paintbrush for multiple colors, you can wash your brush in water and clean it with a rag to ensure the initial watercolor paint has been completely removed. You would like muddiness in your painting outcome such that it will affect your painting. 

Things Beginners Should Know Before Embarking on Watercolor Painting

Change Your Water Frequently

When it comes to watercolor painting, you shouldn’t be lazy. Once you see your water is getting murky, you should know it’s time for you to change your water. 

Some artists are comfortable using multiple glasses or jars of water. With time, you’ll find what works best for you. But make sure you don’t ruin great paintings with things you can easily avoid. 

Allow Your Layers To Dry

With watercolor paint, you need to be very patient. If you want your painting to come out nice, you must ensure you allow each layer to dry before adding another. Without doing this, you might end up messing up colors repeatedly.

Suppose you are the impatient type. You may consider working on two watercolor painting pieces at the same time. This will be of great help because while working on one, the other paint gets dried up. With this method, you can easily switch between the two paintings. 

Having a clear understanding of the rudiments of watercolor paint techniques and how to go about them will make your learning experience easier and fun-filled. You should apply the tips mentioned in this article when starting your watercolor painting journey anytime soon. 

other article to read: How to get awesome dream incubation results

How to get awesome dream incubation results

How to get awesome dream incubation results

If you ever need to make a difficult choice, ask your dreams to help you. 

The process is called “dream incubation” and it can help you find answers, life direction, heal illnesses or find creative solutions.

I discovered this accidentally years ago when my grandfather  gave me a thousand dollars to buy a pottery wheel, but I didn’t know which one to buy. 

There were two types of pottery wheels. One was white and aesthetically pleasing, but made of plastic. The other was sturdy, sporting a steel frame, but ugly with a mustard yellow coating.

Beauty and design meant a lot to me.

So did quality.

I had to choose between aesthetics and durability, and as silly as my choice seemed, I was at a total loss about what to do.

That night I had a dream:

I am presented with several potter’s wheels and I need to choose one. I choose the steel frame option because it will last a lifetime.

I woke up with clarity, no doubt in my mind that I’d buy the steel frame model.

Dream incubation can help you make tough decisions

If you’re not familiar with the concept, dream incubation is the process of asking a question and then dreaming a solution.

Many dreamers use a simple, three step dream incubation process:

  1. they ask a question prior to going to bed
  2. dream
  3. then process the imagery (rinse and repeat for a few days)

Some add a fourth step which is to create a dream charm in order to help deepen the experience.

This three or four step process works well, too.

In fact, according to Harvard dream researcher Dr. Barrett, about 50% of those who follow this technique will incubate dreams related to their question. 70% of those people will dream a solution.

What I’ve discovered over the past couple months, though, is that there is a way to increase the response rate.

The trick is to fully immerse yourself into whatever it is you want to know more about.

It’s a holistic process that encompasses more than sleeping and dreams.  Instead, it includes:

  • crafting a clear intention in the form of a question you want answered
  • actively immersing yourself in the topic of interest through research, writing or any other activity
  • being hyper aware, noticing how and when the theme of your intention appears in waking life
  • cultivating sleeping dreams around that intention (following the above outline)
  • recording dreams for weeks (even months) and noticing themes

Do this and your whole life may shift.

You may suddenly see things you didn’t see before.

Related blog posts, videos, and articles may appear as if by magic.

You might overhear conversations about your topic.

Or “hear” answers in your head while day dreaming.

And of course, you’re likely to have sleeping dreams about your theme, too.

This is certainly my experience, and anecdotal as it may be, I am not alone in having it.

Numerous famous inventions were created in part by people who were deeply immersed in a topic, only to dream imagery that led to the solution.

In the dream, Howe is being held captive by African cannibals. As he tries to escape from a boiling cauldron, the natives poke spears at him to keep him in place.

When Howe woke from his nightmare he recalled an odd addition to the spears: they all had holes on their tips. As he came fully awake, Howe realized this was the solution to his sewing needle problem.

But the question researchers like to ask is, “Was Howe’s famous dream an actual solution to his problem, or did his waking mind fill in the blanks?”

In other words, was Howe only inspired by the dream scene or did the dream provide a definitive solution?”

What I’d like to suggest is that it doesn’t matter.

Howe invented the perfect sewing machine needle, and whether or not his dream came to him as the perfect solution or just inspirational imagery, he got the solution anyway, clearly inspired by the dream.

How to get awesome dream incubation results

To illustrate further, I’ll use myself as an example.

Before we started discussing what whale dreams mean, I hadn’t had a whale dream in years.

Shortly after we started talking about whales, though, I had two whale dreams, both were quite profound.

The first dream came the night I asked the question, “What message is trying to come through our whale dreams?”

I dreamed that my cat had a whale rib cage stuck in his mouth.

But the dreams continued even though I stopped asking the question.

I was unintentionally incubating dreams.

This is what I did:

I wrote one blog post about my whale dream.

I discussed whale dreams with friends, even sharing my “whale dream envy” because I’d never dreamed about swimming with whales or making deep eye contact with dolphins like other people had.

I edited nearly a dozen whale related posts written by the other Dream Team members.

I read and replied to over a hundred whale related dreams and comments shared by DreamTribe members.

I researched other websites, looking for information and insight into whales and whale dreams.

And as a result, I had dream after dream that appeared to be a response to the original question “what is the whales’ message.”

(I even had a dream about playing with a dolphin, making beautiful and meaningful eye-contact and then seeing an ocean full of humpback whales. I no longer have whale/dolphin dream envy!)

How to get awesome dream incubation results

But one dream, which feels integrally related, didn’t have a single whale in it.

Instead, it was about pollution, specifically about how automobile gasoline is killing the water.

Considering all of this, and reflecting on other Big dreamers like Elias Howe, it seems clear that total immersion in a topic will elicit helpful dreams.

We only need to pay attention and be open to the possibility that our dreams are guiding us.

Here are some more hints about dream incubation:

  1. After you create an intention, record your dreams for weeks, even months.
  2. Pick one question or intention to contemplate and focus on it for awhile.  Immerse yourself in the theme.
  3. Your dreams may not reflect literal imagery related to your question. Instead, they may be metaphoric. Don’t look for the obvious, literal answer. Use your dreams like divination tools.
  4. When you want to dream solutions to problems the last thing you want is to get cryptic dream messages! I’ve had success incubating straight forward, more literal dreams by saying, “My intention is to dream about ______. Please send a dream I can easily understand!”
  5. Invite a friend to incubate dreams on your behalf, or do the same for a friend and share the results. Two people dreaming about one topic will double your results!

More resources:

Dream Genealogy & Deep Ancestral Healing
How do Herbs Influence Sleep and Dreams?
Nature Dreaming: Dreaming for the Earth

Dream Genealogy & Deep Ancestral Healing

Dream Genealogy & Deep Ancestral Healing

“Dream genealogy” is a process that uses sleeping dreams and shamanic journeying to gather ancestral information.

I discovered this process several years ago when my dreams were urging me to explore my British Isles ancestry.

As a result, I unearthed a lineage filled with hope, war, death, and eventually rebirth.

It all began in 2007 at a workshop entitled “Reclaiming the Ancient Dreamways,” led by active dreamer, Robert Moss. During the retreat I had a very real shamanic dream experience, one that engaged my physical senses to an extreme I’d never experienced in the dream realm. It went as follows:

I am on the top deck of a ship that resembles the Mayflower. There is a misty dampness in the air that moistens my skin.

My ancestor, Jonathan Padelford (1628-1669), and an American Indian who identifies himself as Meeshkawa, possibly Wampanoag, are standing before me.

We touch hands and I can feel the warmth of their skin as though they are real flesh and blood. They speak rapidly, anxiously pleading for my assistance to help heal our collective lineages by reclaiming the ancient ways and honoring our ancestors.

Dream Genealogy & Deep Ancestral Healing

We hold arms as a sign of fidelity and I vow to do my best to honor their request.

Their pleas and desperation are full of grief. So many lives were lost in battles, so many deceased souls lost in despair.

I awaken, full of tears.

When I returned home from the workshop I started researching my ancestors and their connection to the American Indians in the 1600s. As I followed the threads of every lead I could imagine, an old dream memory surfaced. The dream felt significant, like a key to my ancestral mystery, so I dug out a box of old dream journals, dusted off the covers and began to search. I was nervous I wouldn’t find the dream amidst my twenty years worth of journals, but as luck had it, I did.

Interestingly, it turns out I had the dream on September 6, 1991. It was the second dream I ever recorded in a journal devoted exclusively to dreams.

Thanksgiving Day Massacre

I am on a paddlewheel boat with a swing stage. White men are shooting American Indians who wear red face and body paint. Dead Indian bodies are lying everywhere on shore. From the boat I yell in despair, “What are you doing? These are people, too!”

I am devastated by the loss of lives.

In the next scene it is Thanksgiving. The Indians are now dressed like the white people, but when it comes time to eat they are sent to a basement that is dank and gloomy.  I go to the basement with them and we sit on the floor while we share a meal together. The white people remain upstairs.

In the last scene it is a year later and Thanksgiving again. The Indians are sent to the basement, but this time it is bright and warm with carpeting and furniture. We eat together again and I try to assure them that it will get progressively better. “Next year we will have a table,” I say.

Still in the dream, I have a vision of the future. I see everyone eating together, upstairs, at the same table. We are equals now, living in harmony as brothers and sisters. I hold the vision and know that I am instrumental in helping it come to pass.

Dream Genealogy & Deep Ancestral Healing

After waking from the dream I was not certain if my dream self was a white girl or Indian. Of course, dreams are often full of paradox and oddities so it’s entirely possible I was both.

Regardless, the dream helped anchor my “dream genealogy” into waking life reality, giving me imagery I could use in my research. There were three aspects of the dream that felt significant:

  1. The Indians had distinct red face and body paint
  2. The white people were on a paddlewheel boat with a swing stage
  3. Thanksgiving was a central theme

The paddlewheel boat was an easy image to understand. In 1969, the year after I was born, my grandfather started a paddlewheel boat business and named it “Padelford Boat Co.” The first boat was named “Jonathan Padelford” after my 12th great grandfather, the same great grandfather I dreamed of at Esalen. On the waking life paddlewheel boat there is a swing stage, identical to the one in my dream. Considering this, I came to assume the white people on the dream boat were my ancestors.

As I researched my dream images, I discovered a clan of American Indians, the Wampanoag, who were known to early settlers as the “red men” because they painted their faces and bodies with a red pigment. This was exactly the image I had in my dream.

Not only did the Wampanoag live near my colonial ancestors in Massachusetts, the two lineages are intertwined with each other in deeply unsettling ways.

The Wampanoag, as you may remember from grammar school history class, are famous for the hospitality they bestowed upon the Pilgrims. The Wampanoag helped the Pilgrims survive their first harsh New England winter. According to legend, the two groups shared a harvest festival together, a feast of corn and other foods the Wampanoag helped the Pilgrims cultivate. It is said that this festival eventually became Thanksgiving.

Dream Genealogy & Deep Ancestral Healing

In 1991, when I had the Thanksgiving Massacre dream, I was completely unaware of my ancestors’ involvement in the plight of the Pilgrims. In fact, it was only a few months ago that I discovered I am very likely a direct descendent of the Pilgrims who set sail on the Mayflower in 1620.  Not only that, but if the lineage proves to be true, my 12th great grandmother, Susanna White, whose family married into the Padelford line, was one of only four adult women who survived the first winter and subsequently experienced the famous Thanksgiving feast.

Susanna’s son Resolved was only a child of 4 or 5 when they landed in Plymouth, and he has the distinct honor of being the older brother of Pelegrine, the first white child to be born on this continent.

As I write this I feel an overwhelming surge of emotion welling up in me. It’s a mix of sorrow and awe that stirs my blood.

But sadly, Thanksgiving is not the only common history my ancestors share with the Wampanoag.

The following events would probably not be very interesting if it were not for what happened in 1675: My ancestor Jonathan Padelford died in 1660 leaving behind several children and his wife Mary. Mary remarried Thomas Ames and together they had several children.

When Jonathan’s eldest son, Jonathan Padelford the II, was a young man of 19, the trust between the Wampanoag and the colonists finally crumbled. The King Phillip’s War, named after the English nickname bestowed upon the Wampanoag Sachem (chief) Metacom, began in 1675 and lasted over a year.

Dream Genealogy & Deep Ancestral Healing

It was the Wampanoag my ancestors fought against in a brutal battle that nearly decimated all involved. The King Philips war of 1675-6 was a bloody war, leaving few behind to tell the tale.

Of the several Padelfords who lived in the area, only two survived the war. Of the two surviving Padelford brothers, only Jonathan had children. I am his direct descendant.

The pain, the deep seated grief, was real and true for all people involved – Pilgrims, Wampanoag, Pequot, Nipmuc. And even though it was hundreds of years ago, the memory lives still in our bones, in our dreams, and can revisit us as though it was yesterday.

What this experience has taught me is that dreams are not only symbols hoping to be decoded. They can carry with them a legacy of pain and suffering that extends generations deep, living and sitting in our blood and bones until someone is born who is called to heal the ancestral lineage.

I honor all the ancestors, whether they were blood relatives or joined my destiny through bloody battles. I grieve deeply for my Pilgrim ancestors whose one dream was to find a place of their own to call home, and for the First Nations people whose home was destroyed in the process.

May their souls find peace.

Also checkout: How do Herbs Influence Sleep and Dreams?

How do Herbs Influence Sleep and Dreams?

How do Herbs Influence Sleep and Dreams?

Many dreamers are affected by the energy in and around their bedroom. In fact, just the other night, while sleeping over at a friend’s house, I had the experience of incorporating her alarm clock- a new sound to me- into my dream. Lights, sounds or the people nearby us when we sleep, and even the bedroom itself can subtly influence our dreaming.

We can also consciously set up a sleeping environment to effect and enhance our dreaming. One of my favorite ways to do this is with plants, or what we herbalists refer to as: “sleeping with herbs.”

Mugwort: The Dream Herb

The plant most associated with dreaming is mugwort, artemisia vulgaris. Named after the Greek moon goddess, Artemis, mugwort is sacred and revered wherever it grows. Like its botanical relative, sagebrush, mugwort has a long use in folk medicine for cleansing and protection.

An old Summer Solstice tradition among the Slavic people of Poland was to make huge bonfires of mugwort. Everyone in the village, including the animals, would pass through the smoke of mugwort to protect themselves from negative energies such as illness or the evil eye.

Mugwort is also one of the most renowned plants for dreaming. Mugwort can enhance dreams and assist with dream recall. It is a great plant to work with if you have a difficult time remembering your dreams. It can also increase the vividness of dreams. I’ve heard many reports of mugwort giving the dreamer vibrant, technicolor “Alice in Wonderland” type dreams.

How do Herbs Influence Sleep and Dreams?

Healing Dream Ally

Mugwort, which I like to call “the queen of medicinal herbs” is a great ally to support your practice of healing dream incubation. Mugwort is a principal herb used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) as moxibustion. The herb is safely burned near or on the body to stimulate energy in the acupuncture points and meridians. According to TCM, the energy of mugwort is identical to that of the human body.

As a healing herb, mugwort has great potential to assist in our healing when we are both awake and asleep. Try incorporating mugwort into your practice of incubating healing dreams. This powerful herbal ally can help to potentiate the healing you receive on many levels in your dreams.

However, for people who already have very active dream states, mugwort may be too powerful of an herb to work with. Sometimes dreaming with mugwort can translate to a night of non-stop, active dreaming- the kind of night that leaves you tired in the morning. I once woke up in the middle of the night and tossed my stalk of mugwort out of my bedroom. My dreams that night were incredibly vivid and intense and I felt like I just needed a good night’s sleep!

How do Herbs Influence Sleep and Dreams?

There are several ways you can incorporate mugwort into your dreamtime. One is to simply put a piece of the plant, fresh or dried, on your altar or under your pillow. Or you could sew a mugwort dream pillow. Another option is to take a 3-5 drops of a mugwort tincture before going to bed. You can also try drinking mugwort tea, but it tastes too bitter for most people.

Mugwort is also a good plant to use as smudge (incense). If you smudge your bedroom with mugwort before going to bed, you are guaranteed to notice the effect in your dreams.

Do not take mugwort internally if you are pregnant or nursing. Mugwort has a powerfully stimulating effect on the uterus and can cause uterine contractions and possibly miscarriage in early pregnancy. In this case, it is best to work with mugwort as a smudge, dream pillow or as an object on your altar.

Chamomile: A Remedy for Nightmares

Chamomile is an incredible plant with many healing benefits to the physical body. It can help us with sleep and dreams.

Chamomile is a great ally for alleviating nightmares. If you are plagued with bad dreams, try drinking some chamomile tea before bed or placing some chamomile under your pillow. A chamomile bath before bed is a lovely way to prepare for a good, peaceful night’s rest. Simply fill a muslin bag or an old clean sock with a handful of chamomile and add it to a hot bath. Relax, enjoy and soak in the medicine!

Chamomile can be especially helpful to help relieve nightmares in children. As adults, we may have enough understanding of dreams to know that nightmares can be helpful messages from our psyche. However, to a child a scary dream monster may just be plain scary and can seriously interfere in their ability to sleep. In this case, chamomile can give us the courage to face and transform our frightening dreams.

How do Herbs Influence Sleep and Dreams?

An Herbal Ally for Treating Insomnia

Chamomile is very nourishing and relaxing to the nervous system and can be very useful to prevent and treat insomnia. Chamomile helps us to relax the tension we hold in our physical body. If pain or stiffness is keeping you awake at night, you might want to try drinking a cup of chamomile tea or taking a bath with it before bed.

Chamomile is also very healing to the emotions. It helps to relieve fear and anxiety that may be keeping you awake at night. In this case, the tea, tincture or bath of chamomile might be helpful. Another suggestion is to make a dream pillow of chamomile of put a few drops of chamomile essential oil on your pillow so you are able to inhale the healing scent of the plant all night long.

How Have You Dreamed with Plants?

Many other plants can have a healing effect on our dream state. I will continue to write about this topic in future posts and welcome your stories about dreaming with plants.

More to read: Nature Dreaming: Dreaming for the Earth

Nature Dreaming: Dreaming for the Earth

Nature Dreaming: Dreaming for the Earth

It is my contention that we are all nature dreamers. By that I mean each of us, whether we are cognizant of it or not, dreams on behalf of nature. Sometimes the message is clear, sometimes it is shrouded in symbolism and metaphor. Those of us who are more connected with nature during waking are likely more aware that this level of dreaming is going on, but nonetheless, I believe each of us is tapped into nature’s psyche because of the nature (pun intended) of interconnectedness.

Here is a startling example of how nature inhabits our dreams, straight from my own dreams.

On July 31, 2010 I had the following dream:

I am in a cozy cabin with a fire n the fireplace. I settle in and feel good, but there is a nagging feeling in the background. I look at the view — I see the Golden Gate Bridge and the sun setting, but something feels off. Then a huge, luminous, gorgeous tidal wave sweeps toward me. It is so beautiful! Illuminated from the inside and turquoise and green. It is also scary. Then a goddess in a yellow dress appears in the room with me. I know she is the sun. She stands in front of me and says, “Jump!”

Nature Dreaming: Dreaming for the Earth

The next day, solar storms occurred on the sun. It’s important to note that I knew nothing of the solar activity before I went to bed the night before. I heard about the solar storms when I arrived at work.

The storms affected the magnetic field of the planet, causing gorgeous aurora borealis visible by many people on Earth. Pictures of the aurora that I saw featured colors that reminded me exactly of the tidal wave in the dream.

There are many other hints within the dream that point to the solar event: the fire, the Golden Gate Bridge, the tsunami, the sun goddess. In waking life, scientists called the storms solar tsunamis. NASA reported a C3-class solar flare (the white area on upper left of the image above) and a solar tsunami (the wave-like structure in the upper right of the image above) on August 1, among other solar events.

Of course, the dream had personal significance for me as well (I believe most, if not all, dreams have several layers of meaning). But it is clear that my dream hints at the sun’s activity.

Nature Dreaming: Dreaming for the Earth

Here’s a second, more recent example.

On December 20, 2010 I had this dream: I am in a field in a town. I am watching hundreds of chickens hatch and rapidly grow to little chicks. I watch their mothers gather their babies. Then almost all of them get taken away to be eaten. It makes me sad. Somehow I have a part in all of it. After everything is gone, someone returns with two chicks and their mom. They drop the chickens in the middle of the field where all the chickens used to be. I can see panic, terror, and sadness in the mother’s eyes as she realizes what happened. She gathers her two chicks under her breast to protect them. I’m told these are my chickens and I can start a new colony with them.

That morning when I got to work I read this news story about 400,000 chicks killed by a bankrupt poultry farm in Russia. These aren’t the only chickens to die at this farm; 600,000 others have died of malnutrition and three million more could face the same fate. Its death on a massive scale and a grim picture of how broken our food system has become.

Nature Dreaming: Dreaming for the Earth

What strikes me as I compare the dream to the story is the deep sadness attached to both. In the story, the writer reports that the workers charged with killing the chicks “wept as they carried out their task.” My dream self also felt that sorrow as I watched the chicks being taken away. The “panic, terror, and sadness” the hen shows in the dream also speaks to the overwhelming emotion of the situation in Russia.

I wonder if the survival of the two chicks and the hen in my dream says something about the possibility of a few of the Russian chickens living through the brutality. Perhaps the dream’s ending is meant to show us a better way: a few chickens for each family rather than massive farms where animals are inevitably mistreated.

To figure out if you’re nature dreaming, write down your dreams in the morning and then keep tabs on the environmental news each day to see if events or themes match those in your dreams. And let me know if they do!

Other articles:

Lucid dreaming as a spiritual practice
The Ancestor Effect: How Your Roots Boosts Confidence

Lucid dreaming as a spiritual practice

Lucid dreaming as a spiritual practice

Lucid dreaming is the art of becoming more self-aware in our dreams.  Often when we realize we’re dreaming, the dream becomes clearer, and colors more vibrant. We’re aware, alert, and we know that ours is a dreaming landscape. The sheer joy of it often lifts us off our feet and we float into the sky, looking down at all of the dream’s creation.

The rules are different here:

This ecstatic state is known as the lucidity effect; it’s been documented by countless beginning lucid dreamers.

Unfortunately, holding onto that feeling can be difficult. As soon as we try to control the dream, to bend it to our will, the feeling may be dashed altogether.

But dream control is not the only way to go.

For many, lucid dreaming is a spiritual practice. This looks different for everyone, as we have wide range of personal dreaming styles. Some seek experience with the highest powers; others commune in the underworld with earth spirits. Still others have learned that flying can result in information that is later verified in consensual reality. Some brave souls find themselves in conversation with the deceased.

Lucid dreaming as a spiritual practice

Finally, this state allows for intensely real encounters with other creatures, leading us to wonder if dreams are more than “our own stuff” but a forgotten communication tool.

These dreams of landscape include communing with non-human voices. An example of ecodreaming that is reverberating strongly for us at the Dream Tribe right how includes dreams of whales, who seem to be telling us of their perilous state and asking for our help. While forgotten to us as Westerners, this practice has been known for much longer as whale dreaming by the Australian Aborigines.

Going deeper with lucidity

It takes time, perhaps a lifetime, to balance self-control with the dream’s own energy. I am by no means as master of this, even after 20 years of lucid dreaming.

Lucidity is flighty by nature. What all lucid dreaming spiritual practices have in common is that no matter how high they fly, they touch the ground of compassion.

Right action can only be felt in the particulars of the dream, and only the dreamer has the authority to know what that feels like. There’s no final, better, or ultimate goal here.

The Lucid Dance of Balance

But this much is true: lucidity emerges in maturity not as total dream control but as a conscious dance with the energy flows of the autonomous dream figures. The dance shifts between active and receptive postures, which we embody by asking questions and making space for an answer. This lucid dance is also about shifting from abstract ways of knowing to more emotional involvement in the dream, and vice versa.

Ultimately, this flow allows for a conversation between the dream ego and the self-rising currents of the moment.

If you’re interested in moving beyond your comfort zone in lucid dreaming, it’s good to know that many have gone before us on this path. Interestingly, when lucid dream psychologist Fariba Bogzaran researched how people approach the divine in lucid dreams, she discovered that those who take an active, seeking stance in the dream often find lucid outcomes that largely mirror their own expectations.

However, when the dreamers took receptive postures, not seeking but opening up to mystery, a different pattern revealed itself. They found themselves in new situations, encountering aspects of the divine that surprised, delighted, and sometimes challenged them.

Lucid dreaming as a spiritual practice

Seeking the Divine

Sometimes the way a question is framed in the dream makes all the difference. Rather than demanding, “I want to find God!”, try asking an open-ended question such as, “What is beyond my senses?”

So perhaps it’s better to say: do not seek. Rather: wait and see…

Psychotherapist Mary Ziemer is another researcher who has studied receptivity in lucid dreams. Her website LucidAlchemy.com outlines a new way of adapting lucid dreaming to the goals of alchemy, in which we throw images before us to enter into, and are forever changed by the transformational process.

The receptive posture in lucid dreaming has been much maligned in Western lucid dreaming culture. Many fear emotions in their lucid dreams because they may “lose control,” and others are more interested in testing willpower than learning from the dreaming imagination.

Luckily, the dreaming mind is patient, and when we become open to new possibilities, the dream responds.

In this time of ecological crisis, lucid dreaming emerges not as a narcissistic fantasy realm, as it is often portrayed in mass culture, but as a valuable method of engagement with the repressed and forgotten voices of the land, our own ancestors, and the cosmos we inhabit.

You may not find what you’re looking for, but you’ll find something better: the threshold to the unknown, where information, knowledge—and possibly even wisdom—await.

Other article: The Ancestor Effect: How Your Roots Boosts Confidence