In my various attempts to delve into my artistic muses, be it drawing, playing guitar, writing, etc., I’ve discovered over the years that the most (pleasantly) surprising creations happen when you’re not consciously working yourself into a sweat, or thinking about creating ‘a masterpiece’, something that others will admire you for, or trying to emulate someone whose work you admire, but letting yourself go free. Letting your subconscious take over and chart its own territory. Bringing out visions hidden in your psyche.
Though I’ve always enjoyed drawing, lately inspiration has been rare in coming, and more and more unpredictable. Usually, it takes a strong trigger, in my case, a vivid memory that I’d like to depict on paper, for me to unconsciously start doodling. One such memory remains in my mind decades after I saw the scene in an obscure Hollywood movie on DD2 (yes, it really was quite long ago). The scene goes like this:
A plane is shown flying in a stormy sky at night, the darkness punctuated by flashes of lightning. The scene shifts to the inside of the plane, and we see the passengers sitting with their hearts in their mouths, petrified at what might happen. The camera pans to a handsome but melancholy looking man, who seems unmoved by the storm raging outside or the scared passengers within. Suddenly, he gets up and walks down the aisle toward the rear of the plane. To the shock of an airhostess who spots him just at that moment, he begins turning the hydraulic mechanism that opens the exit door. As she runs screaming towards him, tell him to stop, the door flies open inward, and amid a rush of various papers and small objects flying across the aisle, the airhostess is thrown back, loses her balance and falls. The passengers are now screaming in terror. The man, however, continues to look unmoved, and fighting against the terrible wind, he struggles towards the door. The camera then focuses on his calm and melancholy countenance one last time as he scans the whole world from the entrance of the plane door, 30,000 feet up in the sky…and then he jumps. As we hear his fading scream, muffled by the wind, we see not him falling but instead the horizon, consisting of two adjoining mountains which are briefly lit up by a huge flash of lightning. As the light fades away again, we see two powerful God-like eyes showing above the mountains…and then the opening credits begin.
This nightmarish scene remained vivid in my memory since that day, and one day, without thought, while wanting to express something intense on paper, I drew this:
So yes, inspiration has no shape, form or definition when it comes to art. It has to have made an impact on the subconscious to express itself as vividly as this.
Of course, inspiration isn’t always dark and foreboding. There are many colourful sights, sounds, and visions that clamour for space in our subconscious as well. After I arrived in Hyderabad post getting an employment offer from Google, I had my first experience of visiting pubs. One which I frequented a few times with my friends was Club 8, a basement pub in Begumpet, complete with a large LCD TV in the centre of the room showing football matches, a regular one on the side playing recorded cricket matches, and best of all, a large speaker blasting out awesome hits from Stone Temple Pilots, Jefferson Starship, Toto, Spin Doctors, Guns N’ Roses, Deep Purple…you get the picture. My love of rock music began here, and to this day, I’d rather listen to rock than anything else. Later, over the years, I discovered many more artistes, especially great guitarists like Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Joe Walsh, David Gilmour, and many others, whom I worship to this day. Over time, these influences remained in my head strongly enough for me to want to play guitar, and after playing a classical and a steel string one that went their ways with their owners, I bought a Yamaha acoustic that sounded beautiful and more than worth its price.
Well, music has always cheered me up when things have been low, and it was such one dismal afternoon at my rented house in Hyderabad, when my dad was admonishing me for the poor choices I’d made, as I was sitting at home unemployed, my bank account nearing zero, and a flatmate who was heavily in my debt but treating me shabbily as soon as he got a job, that I started unconsciously scratching with a black pen on the back inside cover of a diary, to block him out. This is what came out:
Jane’s Addiction’s guitarist Dave Navarro had impressed me with a memorable live performance of ‘Three Days’ in Toronto, Canada in 2009. Dave’s controlled but powerful playing, smoothly covering the intro, riffs, bridge solo and lead solo of this famous song were simply awesome, and I keep checking this video over and over. You can view and appreciate this great performance at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vwoo2Rp-pww.
And finally, this is what happens when you take a break. Inspiration takes a break too.
Someday, I’ll complete this 7-string Schecter guitar. But for now, I’m continuing life’s routine and waiting for the next ‘Eureka’ moment that might produce something worthy.