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.

A Perfect Balance

Seesaw with a crowd of children playing
Image via Wikipedia

A life has to be lived at right angles to a perfect balance. Life is all about keeping your footing in that middle point of a see-saw. If you go too far to either side of the see-saw, the see-saw tilts. In a sense you are never on either side but somewhere in the murky middle. Everything is made up of this balance. Good and Evil, Love and Hate, Right and Wrong, Light and Dark.

So much of a life well lived is about striking that perfect balance. However if you look at a seesaw, you will see that balance is all about equal weights on either side of a weightless object. Success is measured by finding the perfect balance between want and need.

We know what balance is in life, but what is balance in art. Or is that the ultimate contradiction? Can one have balance in art without it becoming ordinary? Is balance important in art? I think art is the one area in life when balance can be to the detriment not the betterment.

Creativity is one side of a seesaw and Logic is the other side of a seesaw. The artist that is remembered for pushing the boundaries is not one who strikes a balance between creativity and logic. Genius in creativity is given too excess creativity. The world sees this as having one’s head up in the clouds.

Why is that it is so important to have your feet on the ground, metaphorically speaking? I believe that an excess of creative thought and expression scares the ordinary into extraordinary. I find it a terrible waste and shame that children in particular have their creative thought and expression controlled and bordered by boundaries that are supposedly protecting them. Are we not harming them more by trying to control and contain that creative spark that is natural in a child?

I believe that if adults could find their inner spark that they had as a child that they would find life to be richer in detail and beauty. Maybe the definition of a life of perfect balance is to lose the balance. Let your creativity be unleashed.

Art cannot be art when it bordered by imposed boundaries of what is right or wrong, good or bad. Creativity cannot be contained in a glass container. Creativity and creative thought or expression needs to be fluid like our emotions. Emotions defy balance. Creativity has to do with our emotions not our thoughts. Logic is guided by thought and balance.

Creativity is like a wild horse. If it is left to roam as its natural need, there will be no limits to how far the horse will run. If you tame a wild horse, it does not stop being a horse. Just like if you try to contain and bound creativity by logic and normality, it will not stop being creative. But the spark of spirit that is the essence of a wild horse will dim when tamed just as if creativity is bounded by logic it will dim.

To truly be open to your own creativity, you need to allow that wild horse to roam free, far and wide. Trust in that spark of creative innocence that you had as a child. You need to allow yourself to colour outside of the lines. You need to tilt the seesaw in your life. You need to not allow criticism and judgement to try to tame your creativity. Creativity needs to be untamed.

What are you going to do this week to unleash your creativity? How are you going to release that wild horse from its captive paddock? What would you have done as a child? Do that now. Growing up is not a reason to lose the magic of creativity and imagination. Instead embrace your creativity as a gift. You may think you have been living your life balanced because you are doing what you are supposed to do, you are being a grown-up. But in fact your seesaw is tilted too far to the left and logic is blinding your view of the world. The world is a beautiful place and sometimes there is no logic to be found in life. Creativity and imagination understand this.

Follow the creative path you have been told has no future. You may find it creates a new future for you. You may find you burn new paths for others to follow in. Do not be afraid of losing your logic to your creativity. Sometimes throwing caution to the wind can be more liberating than you imagined. Are you brave enough to try? Are you brave enough to write that book, paint that picture, take that photograph, dance that dance? So what if nobody likes it or understands it. The important thing is you may just find your inner child hidden within that creative release.

Run free and roam far. There is nothing more beautiful than a wild horse running with the wind as its only companion. There is nothing as beautiful nor magical as releasing your creative spark.

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”
Pablo Picasso

“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
Pablo Picasso

“The chief enemy of creativity is good sense.”
Pablo Picasso

“If I paint a wild horse, you might not see the horse… but surely you will see the wildness!”
Pablo Picasso

© All Rights Reserved Kim Koning.