memoirs, art and fragments by Thomas Milner

Posts tagged ‘painting therapy’

More Painting Therapy

Oh, these chilly late October afternoons when the days draw shorter and I have dress warm, dear,  as my mother used to urge us and tomorrow’s yet another dratted public holiday and I’m feeling low and moan, moan and whinge, whinge.

I decide to start a new painting – that always cheers me up. Accordingly I wheel myself up to the first floor to my atélier, take up a fresh sheet of gummed A3 paper and sit in front of it for about five minutes, my mind as blank as the paper in front of me … I pull myself together and sweep a confident pencil stroke diagonally the paper and then another and a shorter one and then I’m off.

STAGE 1

The next afternoon I enter the uncomfortable world of colour. The picture is indicating organic growth of some sort (there are no straight lines; I have denied myself the comfort of my trusty ruler).

STAGE 2

Next day I’m two minds about whether to carry on with it or abandon the wretched thing and just bin it but being irredeemably lazy I settle for the former in the hope that my retrieval skills can rescue it.

STAGE 3

The final afternoon sees me doing some major tinkering, touching up, colour adjustment and generally fiddling about with it. At ten minutes to four I stop, spray it with a cheap and rather nasty-smelling hair fixative and call it a day.

BULB TO FLOWER – PAINTING BY THOMAS MILNER

Karma and painting

How to restore order out of mental chaos and paint a meaningless picture at the same time.

I have a theory that painting symmetrical shapes randomly is both soothing and therapeutic.

First you take a piece of gummed A3 paper and a pencil and then (staying firmly inside your comfort-zone) you play around for about an hour and come up with this:

STAGE 1

The next day you start to colour it in. you are unsure about the colours but are vaguely thinking yellow and green. You use a water-colour wash and by the end of the hour your uncertainty is showing.

STAGE 2

On the following day you decide to deploy the acrilics.

STAGE 3

STAGE 3

And finally after doing the fine brush work and just generally fiddling around with it and tidying it up you consciously decide to stop before you spoil it any further.

You sign it and then pause to give it a name – Asymmetry.

ASYMMETRY / PAINTING by THOMAS MILNER

Asymmetry

How to restore order out of mental chaos and paint a meaningless picture at the same time.

I have a theory that painting symmetrical shapes randomly is both soothing and therapeutic.

First you take a piece of gummed A3 paper and a pencil and then (sticking firmly inside your comfort-zone) you play around for about an hour and come up with this:

STAGE 1

The next day you start to colour it in. you are unsure about the colours but are vaguely thinking yellow and green. You use a water-colour wash and by the end of the hour your uncertainty is showing.

STAGE 2

On the following day you decide to deploy the acrilics.

STAGE 3

STAGE 3

And finally after doing the fine brush work and just generally fiddling around with it and tidying it up you consciously decide to stop before you spoil it any further.

You sign it and then pause to give it a name –  asymmetry

ASYMMETRY – PAINTING BY THOMAS MILNER

Invisible Paintings

AN INVISIBLE EXHIBITION - by THOMAS MILNER

Since last Thursday there has been a little show of my paintings up in the entrance hall.

So far, not only has no one commented on them, but I don’t believe that anyone has even noticed them, which certainly puts me in my place, doesn’t it?

I do believe that I’ve discovered the formula for producing an invisible painting.

What you do is the following:

First you contrive your life in such a way as to end up in an Old People’s Home full of nice, but culturally innocent, inmates.

Then you take a sheet specially treated A4-size gummed paper and with a pencil in your right hand (because you’re experiencing slight tremors/twitches/tremblings/spasms/shakes etc.on the right side of your body because your tumor was on the left side of your brain) and sketch vague lines and shapes in the hope that eventually they get to resemble something or other (anything will do) so that you can later impute an intention or purpose.

Next, with your paint-brush in your right hand, you apply various coloured tinctures, water colours (acrilics only to be deployed in an emergency) onto the prepared surface to see how it turns out and with any luck you’ll produce a painting.

Repeat this periodically over several months and then, and this is the tricky part, get someone to group them together and display them on a large stand in the entrance hall.

Et voilá, there you have it – invisible paintings (painted by The Incredible Shrinking Man).

ANOTHER INVISIBLE EXHIBITION - by THOMAS MILNER

Please allow me to introduce myself

Please allow me to introduce myself, I’m a man of wealth and taste … thus the opening words of a famous song from my youth – Sympathy for the Devil by the Rolling Stones.

Not particularly wealthy and of uncertain taste, I am an Englishman in late middle-age who, over the last eight years, has endured three brain operations to remove benign but aggressive brain tumours. For reasons, which will in time become clear, I have somehow managed to end up in an Old People’s Home in the north of Portugal overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

I didn’t survive unscathed however; after the second procedure (six years ago) I was left with what the surgeons rather euphemistically described as a slight deficit in my right side.

I couldn’t even sign my own name! Part of my rehabilitation therapy was to draw and paint for about an hour each day.

I also had lapses of memory and after a long while in a very dark place I pulled myself together – It’s sauve qui peut in this place (pardon my French), I thought – and began to tap out with one finger my memories in order to fix them in my mind.

So here, in this slightly strange and surreal place, I produced and (self)published my book THE WAITING ROOM.

What therapy! What catharsis! I can’t recommend it enough for fellow victims – your memories will lead you into rich meadows in which you may graze at will …

COURAGE

(Pardon my French)

S.JORGE - PAINTING by THOMAS MILNER

I win a prize

Some of you may recall my post of 8th October entitled Rehabilitation through Art where I describe how, for the third year in succession, I was going to send an entry to the art competition (of the same name) down at Albufeira in the Algarve. I was wondering which p-p-p-picture to select and finally p-p-p-plumped for this p-p-p-painting.

WHERE AM I - PAINTING by THOMAS MILNER

And guess what … it came in first place (in the painting category).

Not a bad result, eh?

I’m rather chuffed.

More Painting Therapy

Oh, these warm July afternoons! I decide to fill in the time between lunch and tea by starting a new painting. Accordingly I wheel myself up to the first floor to my painting room, take up a fresh sheet of gummed A3 paper and sit in front of it for about five minutes, my mind as blank as the paper in front of me … I pull myself together and sweep a confident pencil stroke diagonally the paper and then another and a shorter one and then I’m off.

STAGE 1

The next afternoon I enter the uncomfortable world of colour. The picture is indicating organic growth of some sort (there are no straight lines; I have denied myself the comfort of my trusty ruler).

STAGE 2

Next day I’m two minds about whether to carry on with it or abandon the wretched thing but, being irredeemably lazy, I settle for the former in the hope that my retrieval skills can rescue it.

STAGE 3

The final afternoon sees me doing some major tinkering, touching up, colour adjustment and generally fiddling about with it. At ten minutes to four I stop, spray it with a cheap and rather nasty-smelling hair fixative and call it a day.

BULB TO FLOWER - PAINTING BY THOMAS MILNER

Another Sunday in the life

Sunday lunch in most societies, whether rich or poor, is generally supposed to be set apart from the other meals of the week either in form or content or both.

I can see the cooks all rubbing their chins in front a couple of giant turkeys (grossly pumped full of steroids to increase size and weight) and thinking, um … what we shall we do with these old birds – I know, let’s hack them into manageable chunks and bung them all into the oven …

Or maybe the chunks came from meat-retailer already hacked with the instructions: meat to roast – just stick in oven for 3 hours

Anyway we are all served with an amorphous square of roast turkey (peru assado) which is as tough as an old boot, dry and overcooked. I am interested in where the struggled-with or untouched chunks of meat will go next as they disappear back into the kitchen at the end the meal; will they continue along the food chain as dog food or to feed the pigs, if the latter we will possibly meet again in about a year’s time.

I have to remind myself that this is after all Sunday Lunch and that here badly-cut meat comes with the territory and resolutely try to concentrate on my book and block my ears to the savage berating some poor old dear is receiving for refusing to eat her soup (whence comes so much anger?) or the loud mocking echo of the moans of the demented Maria dos Anjos from the other one. I’m just starting to read Emma again and the first paragraph immediately puts me in a good humour:

Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.

There is a time and place for all writers and the noisy environment is wonderfully offset by Jane Austen’s cool and limpid prose.

Suddenly the hoarse shriek of chairs scrapping against tiled floor signals the end of the meal and I retreat with battered ear-drums to the calm of the second floor for the afternoon; I start a new painting, sketching for an hour and feel better. After tea I spend an hour on my splendid terrace and am soothed even further. I walk up and down the corridor on my frame, consciously striving to improve my posture.

ROAD TO NOWHERE - PAINTING BY THOMAS MILNER

At dinner the tragi-comic farce continues. Both my table companions complain that the soup lacks salt; but guess what, they are wrong! Their taste buds have deceived them again. My father used to quote a Latin tag to us children; I can’t remember exactly how it went but it ended up the words … de gustibus and was to the effect that it was unprofitable to argue about matters of taste; (it was probably Pliny the Younger or someone). Anyway, the teachings of Pliny the Younger evidently have not reached this village … shades of Monty Python: is this a five-minute argument or do you want the full half-hour?   

(Emma has just decided that her young protégé, Jane Fairfax, would make an excellent match for Mr. Elton, the local curate …)

Later, with the low evening sun slanting in lighting up the motes of dust in the quiet hall, I wheel across the room, greeting the few left-over people still at their tables (sometimes my wheelchair is a tired old Toyota pick-up and sometimes it’s a Porsche zig-zagging adroitly among the tables – living dangerously) to the recumbent side of my old friend who used to anxiously ask me what the time was in the old days; these days however she is lies speechless with eyes closed she sleeps her breathing ragged and shallow I hold her old hand lightly and stare out into the garden meditating on a whole raft of thoughts and ideas …

And finally I arrive back in my room to find some flowers in my vase arranged Feng  Shui fashion, left doubtlessly by one the (many) kind-hearted people who work in this place.

Asymmetry

How to paint a meaningless picture.

First you take a piece of gummed A3 paper and a pencil and then (sticking firmly in your comfort zone) you play around for about an hour and come up with this:

STAGE 1

The next day you start to colour it in; you are unsure about the colours but are vaguely thinking yellow and green. You use a water-colour wash and by the end of the hour your uncertainty is showing.

STAGE 2

On the following day you decide to deploy the acrilics.

STAGE 3

STAGE 3

And finally after doing the fine brush work and just generally fiddling around with it and tidying it up you consciously decide to stop before you spoil it any further. You sign it and then pause to give it a name; as it doesn’t have any meaning and doesn’t remind you of anything in particular, you decide to call it a daft meaningless word – Asymmetry.

ASYMMETRY - PAINTING BY THOMAS MILNER

Sailing to Byzantium

Early on in my painting therapy it was suggested that I do a painting that incorporated words. I didn’t know quite how to go about this and the result is only indifferent as you can see.

NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN

However it does give me the excuse of releasing onto the blogosphere W. B. Yeats’ wonderful poem:

Sailing to Byzantium

That is no country for old men. The young
In one another’s arms, birds in the trees
—Those dying generations—at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unaging intellect.II

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

III
O sages standing in God’s holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

IV
Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.

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