Writing Epiphanies in the Brushstrokes of Picasso


This last weekend I had the rare pleasure of attending an art exhibition of the Modern Masters “Degas to Dali” that called my city a temporary home on loan from The National Galleries of Scotland. With 79 works by over 60 Modern Masters from Renoir to Monet, Degas to Dali, Picasso to Warhol and Van Gogh to Matisse it was a feast for the creative senses.

You are probably wondering what an art exhibition of The Modern Masters has to do with writing and Wrestling the Muse. Everything. Writing is just another form of art. Where the great Masters of the art world used exquisite brushstrokes to create pictures and stir the senses, writers use ink blotches and words to create worlds that a reader can step into. Writing, Painting, Sculpture, Music are all forms of Art. If you are a writer, you are a creator of worlds and an artist of words.

What struck me during my tour of the exhibition was how alike a painter wrestling with his creation is to a writer wrestling with his. We both have a very specific vision of the completed work but at times the journey to get to that point of writing The End or framing that completed canvas is fraught with struggle. There was a room where the quotes of these great Modern Masters had been displayed on a wall. These are some of the quotes that stood out to me. These same quotes could directly be used for us writers.

  • I begin with an idea and then it becomes something else. – Pablo Picasso
  • I have a horror of people who speak about the beautiful. What is the beautiful? One must speak of problems in painting  a story! – Pablo Picasso
  • If there were only one truth, you couldn’t paint write a hundred canvases stories on the same theme. – Pablo Picasso
  • Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working. – Pablo Picasso
  • It took me four years to paint write like Raphael (insert a Master of Literature here), but a lifetime to paint write like a child. – Pablo Picasso
  • Action is the foundational key to all success. – Pablo Picasso
  • An idea is a point of departure and no more. As soon as you elaborate it, it becomes transformed by thought. – Pablo Picasso
  • Are we to paint write what’s on the face, what’s inside the face, or what’s behind it? – Pablo Picasso
  • Art is the elimination of the unnecessary. – Pablo Picasso
  • Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone. – Pablo Picaso
  • Others have seen what is and asked why. I have seen what could be and asked why not. – Pablo Picasso
  • Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.– Pablo Picasso
  • Painting Writing is a blind man’s profession. He paints writes not what he sees, but what he feels, what he tells himself about what he has seen.- Pablo Picasso
  • The hidden harmony is better than the obvious. – Pablo Picasso
  • The more technique you have, the less you have to worry about it. The more technique there is,the less there is. – Pablo Picasso

Just like the great artists, us writers have to get messy with our creations. We have to be willing to be ink-splattered. We have to be bold and unafraid. We have to let the story take control over the technique. We have to disappear so our characters can talk to the reader. We need to remember to tell stories like a child does. We need to let loose our passions into the story. We need to remember that up close we the artists may see only brushstrokes and mess but from a distance our audience the reader needs to see the full picture. We need to step back and look at our work with the eye of a reader to truly see if we are consistent in the path our story has taken. Remember to not only read but to look at beautiful art, listen to beautiful music, touch a beautiful sculpture. Seek out inspiration and it will show itself to you.


12 Comments

  1. Wow, Picasso had quite a few things to say. He should’ve been a writer as well 🙂

    For me, the quotes that jumped out at me were the ones about action. That’s one thing I’ve been trying to really plug into recently. Just gotta keep working at it… and working at it again… and a little more.

    Sounds like a great show. I’m a little jealous. And you’ve created a great analogy.

    Oh, and I’ve enjoyed seeing the changing faces of your blog. I think switching it up is a good idea. Keeps your readers interested to see what will be here next time.

    Hope you have a good Monday.

    Paul D. Dail
    http://www.pauldail.com- A horror writer’s not necessarily horrific blog

  2. All of the quotes are great, but this one really strikes a chord with me as I am in the throes of revision: “An idea is a point of departure and no more. As soon as you elaborate it, it becomes transformed by thought.” I used to get nervous that I wouldn’t be able to conjure enough detail to tell a full story, that I would only have the initial idea. Revision is transformative; it takes what was a skeleton and turns it into something that breathes.

    I am glad you visited the exhibit – and that you shared your thoughts with us!

  3. Love it, Kim, very clever and so true! And, much as I love every aspect of writing, the chucking the words down, a la throwing the paint on the paper, is probably the most fun of all. When I’m going off on one, the characters writing something I hadn’t set out to write at all, I shall picture myself as Picasso – an unlikely leap as painting and I have never really got along, whether that be contorted faces or wooden doors.

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