Painting the Dream: The Shamanic Life and Art of David Chethlahe Paladin

Excerpts & Samples

By David Chethlahe Paladin

Publisher : Inner Traditions/Bear & Company

ABOUT David Chethlahe Paladin

David Chethlahe Paladin
David Chethlahe Paladin (1926-1984) has been profiled in numerous magazines, including American Indian Art Magazine and Southwest Art, and honored for his contributions to the arts and education. He is survived by his wife, Lynda, who lives in New Mexico.



A glimpse into the remarkable life and visionary artwork of spiritual artist and activist David Chethlahe Paladin.

• Looks at the spiritual traditions surrounding the images that Paladin features in his art.

• Discusses the importance of Paladin's shamanic history in the creation of his artwork.

• Features commentaries by Matthew Fox and others on Paladin's life and art.

David Chethlahe Paladin's art was his life; through it, he fulfilled his desire to serve, to heal, to live compassionately, and to walk the Navajo way of beauty. This remarkable book explores the connection between Paladin's public art and his private life, showing how he not only honored his spiritual ancestors but also his personal commitments through the art that he gave to humanity.

Nurtured by his childhood on a Navajo reservation, where visions were accepted as a natural part of reality, Paladin created brilliant and evocative paintings that resonate between the physical world and the world of dreams. A shaman as well as an artist, Paladin was one of the first Native American painters to move beyond traditional themes and styles of painting. Alive with Navajo, Pueblo, Huichol, and Egyptian deities; Aboriginal Dreamtime images; and mythological beings born of the imagination and lore of many ages and lands, Paladin's art has been praised for its exuberance, eclecticism, spirituality, and original use of symbols. Together, his prose and paintings illuminate a philosophy in which we are all creators and transformers when we respond with openness to our environment and our fellow beings. 

“Paladin is a light-bearer and a truth-bringer, an original thinker and a spiritual warrior who ushers in a new light that allows all of us to see our world with new eyes . . . and take us more deeply into understanding our own spiritual journey.”
Matthew Fox, author of Original Blessing

“. . . the leading Navajo modern artist.”


“Painting the Dream introduces us to David Paladin’s extraordinary visionary paintings where the archetypal beings of all native cultures seem part of one great Cosmic tribe. Highly recommended.”

Alex Grey, artist and author of Sacred Mirrors and Transfigurations

"This is an extrarodinarily beautiful and powerful book--the one I return to more than any other when trying to share with visitors my understanding of the visionary and shamanic path toward wholeness and healing. Lynda Paladin's selections, of art and complementary written pieces by David Paladin, are brilliant. Painting the Dream is a treasure. It not only delights the eye but nourishes the soul."
Jay Bremyer, author of The Dance of Created Lights and The Chymical Cook

"Paladin's artistic gifts and all-encompassing spiritual philosophy live on in his art and in this extraordinary and highly recommended book."
Southwest BookViews, Winter 2004, Vol.3 No.1

"A welcome and commended addition to any personal or academic American Art History, Native American Studies, or Metaphysical Studies collection."
The Midwest Book Review

"A well-balanced monograph of a man and artist who led an astonishing life. . . . a fascinating book."
New Mexico Magazine