The Story of The Slapped Canvas - A Motivational Story to Trigger Your Creativity


As Salaamu 'alaykum and peace to all,

The Story of The Slapped Canvas - A Motivational Story to Trigger Your Creativity

I was at a dinner function that day when one of the elderly ladies at my table spoke about her son who wanted so much to become a pilot but was unable to do so. Even though he has fulfilled the basic criteria in all the initial examinations, the academy had to refuse him. They gave him one reason- that he was colour-blind.

I immediately thank Allaah for allowing me to know, feel, experience, understand, appreciate, enjoy, be mesmerized, and take pleasure in the colours He created, alhamdulillaah…

Surely colour is one blessing from Allaah that I have never thought about, until that day.

I remembered His verse,

That is Allah, your Lord. There is no god but Him, the Creator of everything. So worship Him. He is responsible for everything. (Surat al-An'am: 102)

SubhanAllaah… SubhanAllaah… SubhanAllaah….

Indeed, He is responsible for everything and He is the Creator of these thousands of various shades of colours that we see everyday. I have always been amazed with colours and what we can do with them.

Of course, when we talk about colours, one of the professions that we know used a lot of colours in their work would be- artists or painters.

Once, I had the ambition of becoming the ‘great’ painter. I felt that I can definitely be one after reading a letter Vincent Van Gogh sent to his brother, Theo Van Gogh in October 1884. He said,

Just slap anything on when you see a blank canvas staring you in the face like some imbecile. You don't know how paralyzing that is, that stare of a blank canvas is, which says to the painter, ‘You can't do a thing’. The canvas has an idiotic stare and mesmerizes some painters so much that they turn into idiots themselves. Many painters are afraid in front of the blank canvas, but the blank canvas is afraid of the real, passionate painter who dares and who has broken the spell of `you can't' once and for all.

Inspired by what Van Gogh said, I persuaded my mother to get me my own set of canvas, brush, and paint; and of course, apron too! Well, I truly believe that the canvas was afraid of me, the passionate painter.

So, I started ‘slapping’ the canvas. And guess what? The canvas ‘slap’ me back and after many ‘slappings’ back and forth, I then decided that ‘we’ cannot be friends anymore.

Sob, sob…

But you know what?

Recently, I had the pleasure of knowing one artist known as Teakster who ‘slapped’ his canvas and broke the spell. And he 'slapped' his canvas using combination of beautiful colours that captured the hearts, mashaAllaah. So, I asked if he could share with us his experience, motivation and inspiration as a painter. Alhamdulillaah, he agreed and this is what he said…

My artist name is Teakster and I am the creative side from the dark recess of my mind.

I was requested that I should talk about myself and explain what I do. I’m a pretty boring person but if you still want to listen then read on. Grab some hot chocolate, or any drink that would rather prefer, and gather round so I can tell you a tale about myself.

During my childhood days I was always interested in art. However my parents viewed it as a waste of time and I was discouraged from using art. They said I should focus my talents on Mathematics, Science and English – the normal subjects, which everyone else studied. I wouldn’t even dare to bring paints home. This is because if I spilt anything, I would have been chased around the garden by my father while holding a pitchfork. Normally followed by curses and foul language!

Five years ago, I got a PC. I used the PC like every other person, mainly for reports and spreadsheets. Then about few months later, I learnt about computer software that could replicate paint. These pieces of software were the answers that I have looking for.

Nearly all the fun of using paint, but without the mess (Well….unless your PC breaks…then your in heap of trouble!)

Finally I could fill the hunger that my creative side has always wanted.

I tried using the creative industry as place to utilise my skills. However I found the creative industry is strangely one of the uncreative areas to work within. This is because the clients are dull and the awkward people to work with.

So therefore my work is a form of escapism, being able to be creative without any boundaries. My images contain vivid colours, mixed with different textures. When people look at my work I want them to feel an emotion or move something inside them.

Things that inspire me are politics. People should be able to reflect and interpret the world around them. I would like to think that I can help people to think more deeply, read more and work harder to assist in humanitarian issues or simply just getting more involved with these types of issues.

Something else that inspires me is Islamic art. Islamic art is mostly famous for the use of calligraphy and basic repetitive shapes. Muslims are always looking back at history and praising their past achievements. Long ago Muslims were the leaders of arts and science and single handily kicked started the renaissance period. However, that is all in the past and now is the time to revive these forgotten arts.

I also love doing collaboration artwork with other artists. Samir Malik, Rafia Hussain Kamel and Poprage are some of the artists whom I have worked with. I find working with other artists is a great way of exercise my creativity, plus it helps to kill boredom as I have probably have run out of ideas! Currently I am doing collaboration project with Haji Noor Deen, which is a great honour for me as he a master calligrapher.

I am also getting into photography and I recently started to take black and white photos. It's the most amazing type of photography I can think of. With black and white photography is more about the details and the textures of the shot, rather than relying your shot on the colours of the photo.

Anyways, I’ll stop my babbling, but if you want to see more of my work, then please go to my website -

Here are some of his mesmerizing pieces…

Colourful People
(The Interpretation: Life is dark and dull!!! If you live a clean and fruitful life, your soul will colourful when following the sunnah)

(The Interpretation: Life is not always as simple as a straight line, it always full of twist and turns. As a Muslim, I believe that life is full of tests to check my level of faith. The text at the corner is a sacred Arabic text and is written in square kulfic)

(The Interpretation: Be in this life as if you were a stranger or a traveller on a path)

(The Interpretation : The image shows the arabic word 'mother' Collaboration with the artist Samir Malik)

Whirling Dervishes
(The Interpretation : An image inspired by the Sufism tradition)

Masha Allaah… his brilliant talent in drawing the images and using the variation of colours reminded me of the signs of Greatness of Allaah

And among His Signs Is the creation of the heavens And the earth, and the variations In your languages And your colors; verily In that are Signs For those who know (The Romans 30:22)

Truly, colours are the signs of Allaah.

I pray to Him that as we look at the magnificent colours around us today, we are able to think and reflect upon His Creations and not be the people whose hearts are blind as what He mentioned in His Verse below,

Have they not traveled about the earth and do they not have hearts to understand with or ears to hear with? It is not their eyes which are blind but the hearts in their breasts which are blind. (Surat al-Hajj: 46)


Ya Allaah, I beg of you to open up our hearts so that we are able to see and understand the signs of your Greatness, the Truth of Your Existence from the glorious colours You created, amen…

After feasting my eyes of the paintings of brother Teakster, I think I just snapped up a new courage to paint again. I will look into my storeroom and find those canvas which I have safely tucked away after breaking my relationship with ‘it’.

But, just this time, I prefer to follow the advice of Jules Feiffer,

Artists can colour the sky red because they know it's blue. Those of us who aren't artists must colour things the way they really are or people might think we're stupid.

Wow, he read my mind. Ok, Jules, I got you. Sky is blue, tree is green, blood is red….

What about you my friends? Feel like using some brush and colours today? No? Yes?

Well, if you’d rather not, perhaps there is another way to enjoy the beauty of colours.

Why not when we look at the work of an amazing artist like brother Teakster who inspire us to think of His Greatness thru his paintings, or as we walk to our Path Stations, or while sitting at the Amtrak or LRT, perhaps while waiting for the lights to go green, or while flying up in the blue sky, or jungle tracking, or laying on the grass, we just lift our heads and look at the things around us and see how beautiful the colours that they have.

And not only that, let us hope that now we would be able to see more than colours. Let us pray that from now, the colours of thousands of shades that we see everyday would make us closer to Him, that we are able to see the magnitude of Allaah’s Brilliance and Creativity, that we would be mesmerized and astonished with His Greatness and fall in Love with Him; and praise Him as how He deserved to be praised…

SubhanAllaah wa Alhamdulillaah,

Allaah is The Most Glorious and All Praise is for Him…

Think about it….

Teakster is an artist from United Kingdom. What he lacks in sanity, he replaces it with his artistic ability. His art is a form of escapism, being able to be creative without any boundaries. When people look at his work, he wants them to feel an emotion or move something inside them. Teakster believes that Muslims, especially in non-Muslim lands, shouldn’t underestimate the value of their work. Together we have the power to communicate on a platform unhindered by language barriers and inspire or even reach people at a personal level. Teakster is currently been made a guest judge for Ijtima latest arts competition, with fellow artists, Samir Malik and Peter Sanders. His work can also be seen at facebook and you can join his fan group

Copyright © Sis Zabrina 2008

Sis Zabrina
Life Storyteller
Author of Life is an Open Secret
-18 Inspirational Stories from Ordinary life experiences-

Now blogging at

~ Life Storyteller Blog: Your Source for Islamic Motivational and Inspirational Stories~

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Naziehah said…
Subhanallah...what a great collection! Thank you for sharing with us, and introducing us to this wonderful work.

I especiaaly like Journey and Nomad. Somehow, it speaks to me more..

I am going to check out this Teakster guy!
Sis Zabrina said…

As Salaamu 'alaykum and peace to all,

Sis Naziehah, My pleasure sis. It is one of my fav past time, to gaze at the creative work of others and find Allaah in it, alhamdulillaah...

There are many Muslim painters out there, i am sure you will love their work too, inshaAllaah.