Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Some things I cling to while working on a film.


bull's head
Originally uploaded by yasmin the storyteller.
Sometimes while I'm working on a script or while I'm shooting a film, I lose my bearings a little. When that happens, I often think about the sculpture you see in this picture.

Do you see a bull's head? Or do you see an old bicycle seat, stuck to an old bicycle handle?

Pablo Picasso, my favourite artist of all time, must have seen both.

Which more or less confirmed my suspicion that there is no such thing as a creative person; there are just sharp observers with sensitive hearts.

Picasso created neither the bicycle nor the bull. But his sharp, God-given power of observation and acute sensitivity led him to put together the 'Bull's Head', arguably one of the most famous sculptures in modern times.

Aside from Picasso, I also found that ALL of the artists I greatly admired had the uncanny ability to see beauty in everyday things which most people have long stopped noticing. It was as if they got personal about practically everything that came their way.

And getting personal, I suspect, is the most effective way to sharpen your artistry.

I try to get personal with every script I write, with every film I make. It has come to a point where I know no other way of doing it.

And when I find myself wavering, besides turning to Allah, I return to some quotes of artists and thinkers whom I respect, to steer myself back on course.

Below are some of those quotes.


"To know others is to have knowledge. To know yourself is to be enlightened."

- Lao Tzu


"In our time there are many artists who do something because it is new... they see their value and their justification in this newness. They are deceiving themselves... novelty is seldom the essential. This has to do with one thing only... making a subject better from its intrinsic nature."

- Henri Toulouse-Lautrec


"Everyone discusses my art and pretends to understand, as if it were necessary to understand, when it is simply necessary to love."

- Claude Monet


"An artist, under pain of oblivion, must have confidence in himself, and listen only to his real master: Nature."

- Pierre Auguste-Renoir


"In painting, as in the other arts, there's not a single process, no matter how insignificant, which can be reasonably made into a formula. You come to nature with your theories, and she knocks them all flat."

- Pierre Auguste-Renoir


"Great things are done by a series of small things brought together."

- Vincent Van Gogh


"If one is master of one thing and understands one thing well, one has at the same time, insight into and understanding of many things."

- Vincent Van Gogh


"It is not the language of painters but the language of nature which one should listen to, the feeling for the things themselves, for reality is more important than the feeling for pictures."

- Vincent Van Gogh


"Love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is done well."

- Vincent Van Gogh


"The best way to know God is to love many things."

- Vincent Van Gogh


"The more I think about it, the more I realize there is nothing more artistic than to love others."

- Vincent Van Gogh


"Art is not the application of some set of rules about beauty, but what the instinct and the brain can conceive beyond any rule. When we love a woman we don't start measuring her limbs."

- Pablo Picasso


"When we discovered Cubism, we did not have the aim of discovering Cubism. We only wanted to express what was in us."

- Pablo Picasso


"People want to find a 'meaning' in everything and everyone. That's the disease of our age, an age that's impractical but believes itself to be more practical than any other age."

- Pablo Picasso


"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up."

- Pablo Picasso


"I begin with an idea and then it becomes something else."

- Pablo Picasso


"When I write an original story I write about people I know first-hand and situations I'm familiar with. I don't write stories about the nineteenth century."

- Satyajit Ray


"Bicycle Thief is a triumphant discovery of the fundamentals of cinema, and De Sica has openly acknowledged his debt to Chaplin."

- Satyajit Ray


"Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself."

- Charlie Chaplin


"Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot."

- Charlie Chaplin


"Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination, nor both together, go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius."

- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart


"I pay no attention whatsoever to anybody's praise or blame. I simply follow my own feelings."

- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart


"Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Seek what they sought."

- Matsuo Basho


"If he had had no education, maybe Basho could have been a much greater poet."

- Nanao Sakako


The great Lao Tzu often said that all external knowledge would only lead to falsehood. The only truths are within you. You just have to dig deep.

If you fancy yourself as a fledgling artist, I suggest you try this ancient principle of introspection and see where it takes you.

I did. It may not have taken me very far, but at least I know myself a little better now.