I was once given an assignment to illustrate an article on sleep and dreams. What a terrific subject. It was replete with all sorts of possibilities. I immediately knew I wanted to explore the more surreal overtones and otherworldly mystery of the subject. And I had long associated "sleep” with the wonderfully inventive illustrations of Winsor McCay. His 1900s comic Little Nemo in Slumberland was an unsurpassed trip into the unconscious. So I had a goal to shoot for. I also, similar to McCay, wanted to create an image that suggested something of the mystical aspects of our nightly journey into the unknown. Early on I decided the illustration must contain a floating bed above a fantasy landscape. So I drew my first sketch.
The elements were more or less there. But I wanted a strong graphic image, rather than the more diffuse landscape of my earlier concept. And I also wanted to make a personal statement that came from my own experience.
At that time we had recently returned from a trip to Europe. In southern France my wife and I happened upon the medieval fortress of Le Baux. It was a rough-hewn mountaintop ruin that commanded the landscape for miles around. The ancient barons of Le Baux had basically been thieves on a very grand scale, and a deep and dark sense of enigma enshrouded the ruins. We were there in the Fall, in the rain, and there were no other tourists. The location haunted the imagination, and was not an easy place to forget. I realized that Le Baux was the perfect setting for my illustration.