Every artist has suffered the curse of the dreaded blank canvas at some point.

It stares at you, judging you as you’re pacing back and forth, deliberating what to adorn it with. An aura of questions relentlessly hanging around it: Where should I start? Should I paint the background first? Should I draw my outlines? Am I worthy of painting on it? Which colour goes first? All your materials lie neatly arranged around you like an arsenal, but the moment of complete uncertainty has your hands shaking and your head cloudy.

I always break out in a cold sweat, riddled with doubt in my abilities. Days, sometimes weeks or even months can go by without the courage to defy its condemning glare. I go through my process mentally, and once the stage is set, I arm myself with paintbrushes and a palette. Off to slay the Jabberwocky!

Once paint touches the canvas, the curse seems to lift. Each molecule of the canvas clamours for a smidgen of colour, and all is right in the world. Time seems to melt away when I paint, and the space around me sighs contently in a whirlwind of colours. Not just any colours, the exact colours I intend to use in the painting: each shade and highlight seems to fill the air. The scent of linseed fills my nostrils with triumph. Euphoric. The canvas hums a little floral tune, compared to the doom and gloom of the Funeral March earlier. The curse is nowhere to be found because a canvas cannot be empty; it is a cardinal sin.

After the paint dried and the new canvas is placed upon its wooden throne, that familiar feeling creeps up when you’re stealing a glance. The sleepless nights, the fitful daydreams. What should I paint? Where should I start? What colours should go on first? Cue Western movie music as the Standoff commences. The best method is to grab my armour and bleed the canvas with paint.

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves, And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son! The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand: Long time the manxome foe he sought —
So rested he by the Tumtum tree, And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood, The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood, And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head He went galumphing back.

“And, has thou slain the Jabberwock? Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!’ He chortled in his joy.

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves, And the mome raths outgrabe.

– Lewis Carroll