"Awake in the Dream"

"Awake in the Dream"

Part of my growth recently as an independent artist has been realizing something BIG!

Sometimes the art itself just isn’t enough to provide other people with the amazing experiences and messages I receive through my creation process, so I’m realizing that I need to find a way through words, to help share that process.

I have to say, words are definitely not my first language. And even more than images, which I am extremely fluent in, with my mother “tongue”, I speak and understand feelings and intuition. This is why I have chosen to focus more on my own artwork and my own language in the past few years. It’s a process of becoming more true to who and what I really am and creating my own art is a direct path to this.

I whole heartedly believe that I’m not separate from anything in or beyond this world and when I get my wordy thoughts and my brain out of the way, the clarity of experiences and messages coming from me and all around me helps me feel a sense of belonging, compassion, connectedness, peacefulness and joy with my own (and all of) existence. Those are the feelings I wish to share through my art.

So I’ll try my best to translate into words, one of my most recent paintings and the process of creation through my lens, the depth that this piece has come from and the pure magic that it brings to me and hopefully to you as well. This is a great example of how my intuitive creation process works.

 My Painting Process Video

First, if you haven't seen it yet,  here’s a link to a video compilation I put together to show me painting each stage and process of the painting. Watch my IG reel


Prelude to the Painting

I spent over 1.5 years creating this artwork! It took soooo long because I was only drawn to put my energy into it when I felt good and ready in all parts of my being. I started it just two months after being t-boned in a car accident and was navigating a prolonged concussion and multiple other physical injuries (on top of some other challenges that most of us were facing around the covid situations and relationships), so finding moments that weren’t overtaken by some kind of mental or physical exhaustion and pain were far and few between. As I write this today, I’m still affected by those injuries and still battling through bouts of depression, anger, confusion, pain, fogginess, fatigue and frustration in my mind and body. But when I look at what I have created during this time, sometimes in disbelief, I can remind myself and now hopefully you, that we are here for the challenges in life, the layers of hard and easy, pain and joy, physical and non-physical. All of this makes up what we are, where we came from and where we are going. We are all nothing less than extraordinary miracles of life, no matter how hard we try or don’t try, just being ourselves and experiencing this life, I have learned, is enough. More than enough! This is what “Awake in the Dream” came to express through me.


The Painting Process Begins with an Amazing Gift!

I began painting in December of 2021. A trip to the art store, setting my eyes on the oversized canvases. I felt that rush of excitement wash through my body as I remembered the sensation of past large painting projects and how the dance of physically moving across a large surface to create an image felt so healing and free. So I pulled it down from the shelf with no plans but to let my inner guidance take me on a journey somewhere new. I knew I needed this.

After 20+ years of creating art and painting professionally I have a fairly vast array of art supplies, so basically I have stocked my own candy store and just a few months prior to starting this painting I had bought my first home with my amazing partner Todd and for the first time in my life we had created a beautiful bright studio space in our own home, our sanctuary. Todd even built me my custom designed painting table!! This I believe has really helped set the stage to keep me moving forward during this time in my life.

Carly on her new work table in her studio 


Getting In the Flow with Intuitive Painting 

So on a quiet December evening, just a few days after picking up the canvas I laid it down on a table in my new studio, mixed up some containers of leftover paints into green and blue colours that emulated this feeling of freedom that was coming through me and I just poured it over the canvas like a child, with no intention or direction but to explore and play and feel joy in the the process! No doubt I had on some serious good vibes on one of my Spotify playlists to help keep me in the flow. (feel free to message me if you’d like me to share some with you).

abstract washes of green and blue


 Abstract Painting Through the Feeling of Freedom

The paint was watery and thick and was so fun to move around with my bare hands, which is how I usually start a painting, so that I can feel and translate feeling back and forth between the universe, my subconscious, my body and the materials. Each layer took at least one day to dry, and then I’d wait to add another layer only when I was feeling good and clear. Sometimes months went by before I came back to the canvas. After 3 or 4 layers of multiple colours I wanted more BLUE… deep, vibrant, magical, FREE blue that reached through many worlds, realms, and layers of reality, bursting through my heart and swimming into a new world. I wanted to feel free like anyone wants to feel free and this set the stage for the amazing messages to flow through.

Abstract layers round 2


The Universe, Creation and Natural Formations

It didn’t take long after the blue glaze settled before I was standing in front of a magical new world and was intuitively moving my hands over the surface in a spiral motion… the spiral is nature’s form and movement for physical creation and at the centre of the spiral the sphere came through. Another natural form of creation. I’ve heard that the sphere represents a fully formed being, like a rock that has been washed across the ocean floor for thousands of years or this earth that has been forming for millions or each cell that makes up life on this planet, perfectly shaped and evolved over time. And then gold… up until the last 10-15 years I was always drawn to silver. I thought gold was a bit pretentious and gaudy, until I was drawn to use it in my art. There’s a very long history with this element and humans… I had no idea when I was first drawn to use it, why it’s so valuable, but like many other symbols that have come through my art, I feel this one represents the preciousness and value of life and I still don’t fully understand why. But it feels important to use it, so I do. Some mysteries I like to let unfold over long periods of time.


Applying Gold Metal Leaf

Next, I used chalk to lightly sketch on the spiral shape with the sphere in the centre and painted it in with a liquid adhesive used for applying sheets of metal leaf. This is a much more delicate and involved process compared to paint, but the shine and reflection from the metal leaf is so worth it.

Gold leaf application


A Journey Through Receiving Intuitive Messages

I was feeling really good with the painting at this point, the depth of the translucent layers, flowing textures and variations of rich blues and greens dancing around together with the contrast of the brilliant gold swirling on top of it all. I was definitely deep into a magical journey at this stage, but I felt the journey wasn’t over. It needed someone to represent the experiencer of this journey, someone who could show me how to navigate the land, a messenger! There was a message coming still…

Close up of abstract blue texture and shapes

 So I started browsing images of animals that I have saved over the years that speak to my soul and give me inspiration and what better to represent a messenger than a bird. I had saved a beautiful photo of an Asian flycatcher and as soon as I saw it I knew it belonged to this world. I showed it to my partner Todd, excited to share my next step in the process with him and right away his face lit up! He told me with his own excitement that he had seen this tropical bird before in person during his time living in Borneo many years ago before he became a wildlife biologist, but not before he was a true bird nerd, lol. He told me all about the bird and where he had seen it and this is one of the funny coincidences in my life that have come to show me I’m on the right path. What are the chances that my own partner would have seen this seemingly random mystical bird himself on the other side of the world?

Now my mind was made up and I started planning to add the flycatcher into the painting. It was more months before my energy aligned and I felt I could give myself to this creation again. I prepared my palette of oil paints and happily began painting in the details of the bird. This took more days and weeks to complete as I love to paint in layers when creating a realistic imagery and oil paints don’t like to dry quickly, so patience and more alignment finished the magical bird.

Painting of Asian Flycatcher bird


A Magical Bird Brings me a Message from the Universe

But still, it didn’t feel finished. This bird had come travelling through the layers of time, space, matter, spirit and consciousness to deliver a message! What was the message? It needed to be carrying the message in it’s beak… a symbol. So I went searching for the symbol.

I examined the space and textures within the gold sphere that surrounded the bird’s head and a shape appeared, like a piece of grass, curved and flowing through the mouth of the bird and across the surface of the gold. But then my logical brain thought, “no, a piece of grass doesn’t make sense… “ I feel the shape and it’s not grass… what is it? And then a flash of a dream that I had a few years ago came to me. Buckle up, because here comes a story within the story!

Man… if you’re still here reading this hats off to you because this is the longest thing I have written possibly in my whole life!! lol

The Dream Within the Dream 

Anyway, a few years ago I was practicing recording my dreams to help me remember them more (which really works) and I started to recognize that I was having two different types of dreams; normal dreams where some people and places are familiar but things are strange and there’s some kind of struggle to work though, and then I was surprised to remember other types of dreams, where I was just going about a normal life, having a good time but no person place or thing was familiar. Those dreams felt kind of like having a parallel life.

It was during one of those dreams that I remember very clearly being in an old city in India (a place I don’t know much about). I was following an elderly Indian man through crowded, busy streets while he was singing some kind of beautiful melody. He didn’t speak english and I didn’t understand his language, but he was leading me somewhere. I felt at ease and curious. We came out of the noisy streets and buildings to a large river and I followed him down to the riverbank where he knelt down in the sand, facing the water and motioned for me to kneel down next to him. Then he began making a large symbol in the sand with his hands, about 2 feet wide. He sculpted a circular shape that resembled a compass with four points evenly placed around the outside and at the top he drew a vertical line with two smaller lines crossing the top, similar to an antenna. On either side of that at the top, he drew a shape like a question mark with an extra squiggle in the middle. While he was making the symbols I could hear people gathering on the edge of the road behind us, singing along with him (he was still singing) and joining in with the most beautiful sounding instruments!  I tried to turn around to see what the instruments were but he put his hand on my face and turned my head back to look at his symbol and he pointed at his eyes and then to the symbol with a very serious look to tell me how important it was that I watch and remember. Then I woke up right as he was finishing the symbols. The over-all feeling I got from the dream was that it was a traditional ceremony for the death process, and he was creating a kind of portal and music to help the spirit return home.


Decoding a Mysterious Symbol

I was so moved by the dream, I drew out the symbol right away so I could remember it and I started to look around to see if I could find the meaning and if it has been used before. I could find similar shapes across different cultures, but nothing I could pinpoint exactly until now. The flash of the antenna shape that had popped into my head got me searching again and I did find a symbol for a dragonfly that looks just like it! Then I thought how perfectly suitable… the description that came with the symbol for the dragonfly was talking about a spirit messenger and how the dragonfly represents the transition or link between physical and non-physical. Yep! That’s it!! The final piece of the puzzle popped into place!

Dragonfly symbol painting

Spiritual Symbology of Dragonflies

This is another found description that resonates with me for the symbol and overall theme of the whole painting

“In almost every part of the world, the Dragonfly symbolizes change, transformation, adaptability, and self-realization. The change that is often referred to has its source in mental and emotional maturity and understanding the deeper meaning of life. The Dragonfly’s scurrying flight across water represents an act of going beyond what’s on the surface and looking into the deeper implications and aspects of life. Dragonfly’s can be a symbol of self that comes with maturity. They can symbolize going past self-created illusions that limit our growth and ability to change. The Dragonfly has been a symbol of happiness, new beginnings and change for many centuries."

As soon as I found this final piece, I was so excited and explained it to Todd right away… and then another thought occurred to me out loud while explaining it to him…. “but would an Asian flycatcher actually catch a dragonfly?” Obviously Mr.Biololgy checked into to it, and of course they really do!

Carly holding Awake in the Dream Painting

So there you have it. A magical creation process orchestrated by the universe, intuition and this perspective of consciousness that most call Carly, for now ;) ;)



If you made it all the way to here congratulations! And I really appreciate you taking the time to connect with me on another level.

As I write this, the original painting is still available for sale here. And I have prints on museum quality paper and canvas available here as well!  *if you're signed up to my newsletter you get 10% off your first print order.


I’m always happy to share information, stories and answer any questions you may have about my art or this crazy life in general.

So shoot me an email and say hi any time, I’d love to hear from you and learn a little more about you and your story as well.


With love and magic,




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