Category Archives: mental health

The 10th Muse.


The 10th Muse.

By David Milligan-Croft.

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A dusting of morning snow,

Covers my car.

I trace a love heart

In the passenger window,

And imagine you smiling

On the other side of the glass.

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Antio sas, 2022.


That’s Greek for goodbye, if you didn’t know.

At least, that’s what Google translate tells me. It could say ‘f*ck you’ for all I know. Which would work just as well.

Saying farewell to the year in a foreign tongue has become a bit of a custom for reasons I shan’t go into right now.

Greek mythology and the divine muses have been pretty prominent for me in 2022, so it seems quite appropriate.

This year, I’ve managed to paint lots of pictures, visit lots of the Peak District and write lots of poetry. So much so, I’m hoping to publish my second collection of poetry, “Go tell the bees” some time in 2023. (I’ve even been dabbling with a book cover design for it.)

To see out the year, I thought I’d leave you with a few samples of abstract doodling which I’ve been doing quite a bit of lately. It’s a very cathartic and mindful exercise if you want to give it a go. I’ve even tried it with patients on the ward and it went down really well. (Remember, it’s about the process of doing art rather than the end result.)

It just remains for me to say, thank you for visiting my blog, your support is very much appreciated. I hope you have a very happy, healthy, peaceful and prosperous 2023.

Keep being creative and tell those closest to you that you love them.

In the words of the great poet, Philip Larkin:

“…we should be careful

Of each other, we should be kind   

While there is still time.”

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Extreme Doodling


Extreme Doodling is not doodling whilst snowboarding down the lava doused slopes of an erupting volcano. It’s a tad more sedate than that. It’s doodling with purpose.

Like my previous post about abstract doodling, this exercise is mindful and relaxing.

Simply take your pen or pencil and take it for a stroll around the page.

Don’t think about it. Just spiral around, looping up and down, over and under, without lifting your pen off the page.

Next, (this is the ‘purpose’ part), fill in the shapes that you have created. As you can see above, I have used similarly spaced lines at varying angles, but you could fill each shape with a different design or pattern, as below.

Something like this would lend itself to being filled in with colour – felt tips, pencil crayon, watercolour…

You could even add more geometric elements to it.

There’s no right or wrong.

Nor is there any pressure on it having to be any ‘good’. By ‘good’ we usually mean in the eyes of others. Or, worse still – by yourself!

This is for you.

For you to spend some time relaxing whilst doing art.

It is the process not the result.

I could go on – I’ve got millions of the little blighters. But you get the idea.

I usually do them when I’m out and about and having to wait for something or someone (hence them always being black and white). So it’s a great way to pass time and not get frustrated about having to hang about.

Anyhoo, thank you so very much for taking the time to read/look at my blog. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, if you celebrate it, and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

Best wishes,

David.

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Windows into the (unconscious) mind.


Here’s a little abstract doodling exercise that anyone can do.

Simply divide a page of your sketchbook up into four with masking tape. (Don’t use cello tape as it will tear the paper when you remove it.)

Next, take a pencil and randomly scribble around the four boxes. Then, do the same with a felt tip pen.

For the colour, I used a combination of oil and chalk pastels. (Mainly oil.) But you could use watercolour paint, acrylic, markers – whatever you feel like using. Just don’t try to think about it too much. Let your subconscious do the work.

Remember, this exercise is about the process of doing art as a mindfulness activity, not the result.

You don’t have to divide your page into four. Do as few or as many shapes as you want.

When you feel you’ve finished, gently peel off the masking tape and – Ta-daaahhh! Behold your masterpiece. Guaranteed to give you a little dopamine hit. (The pleasure/reward chemical in your brain.)

It’s quick, it’s easy and it’s extremely relaxing and gratifying.

Your finished work may not get hung in the Tate Modern, but that was never the objective in the first place. Doing art for its own sake and the mental wellbeing it brings was.

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I have built a place for you.


I have built a place for you.

By David Milligan-Croft.

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I have built a special place for you

in the corner of my mind.

Where I can simultaneously feel

happy and forlorn.

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I go there when I want to be alone

with you. We sit in the shade of a cherry blossom tree. 

Scintillating sun flickering through the branches. 

Monarch butterflies flit through the air,

as pink petals fall like snowdrops. 

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There is a shallow stream 

burbling over rocks, carving through a vale

of lush, verdant grass, abundant 

with iridescent wildflowers. 

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Your head is on my shoulder; 

I can smell honeysuckle in your russet hair,

feel your heart beating

against my rib cage. 

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Warmth radiates through your skin

into my fingertips. Stroking the soft down 

of your arm. Breathing you in. 

This is the closest I can get 

.

without crawling inside of you. 

I close my eyes and feel the heat of our star 

on my face. Everything is ecstasy. 

And we stay in paradise forever. Or,

.

until it’s time for me to go.

And I leave you there,

beneath our tree, shielding your eyes

from the sun, waving me goodbye.

.

And I go back to reality,

where you are oblivious

to my existence.

.

για τη δέκατη μούσα μου

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Gilberto sings to Cornelia – new poem.


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Gilberto sings to Cornelia.

By David Milligan-Croft.

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Cornelia is 96-years-old,

With skin like crepe paper.

Her chest rattles like a percolator.

Her lungs have more fluid than oxygen.

Her arms are purple

From where they have drawn blood.

She sings between coughs.

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Gilberto is a nurse

From Sierra Leone;

He loves to sing too.

He has sung in the church choir

Since he was 8-years-old.

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Gilberto pulls up a chair

Beside Cornelia’s bed

And takes her bruised hand in his.

Softly, he begins to sing

Edelweiss to her.

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Edelweiss, edelweiss,

Every morning you greet me.

Small and white

Clean and bright

You look happy to meet me.”

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His voice is how I imagine

An angel might sing.

Gilberto sings

Until Cornelia’s gurgling stops,

And her gnarled fingers

Go limp.

.

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*Edelweiss by Rodgers & Hammerstein from The Sound of Music.

.

για τη δέκατη μούσα μου

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Landmine – new poem


Landmine

By David Milligan-Croft

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There is a type of landmine

That only detonates

Once you have taken your foot 

Off of it.

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It spares you

Instant disintegration – 

Instead, it gives you

That split-second realisation

Of the impending horror that is about 

To ascend upon your hapless body.

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Of course, if you are fleet-of-mind,

You may realise the error of your way,

And keep your weight

Pressed firmly down on the detonator.

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In the hope that someone

Might come to your rescue.

That they collect rocks

And sticks and boulders – anything

They can lay their hands upon

To replace the downward pressure,

That is you.

.

And that is how it feels

To be in love with you.

To have two choices:

To wait for you in vain,

Or to accept fate

And lift my foot off.

.

για τη δέκατη μούσα μου

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Yorkshire Sculpture Park


Yorkshire Sculpture Park is brilliant, ’cause it’s in Yorkshire.

I could end this post here, after that zealous statement, but I’ll endeavour to extol a few more virtues of a jaunt to this idyllic artistic paradise.

YSP is near Wakefield in West Yorkshire, (which is where I’m from, if you hadn’t guessed).

It has gazillions of acres of parkland, gardens, lakes, woods and buildings to roam around.

You’ll see works from the likes of Damien Hirst, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, Andy Goldsworthy, Sophie Ryder, Robert Indiana, Antony Gormley, Vanessa de Silva, Ai Wei Wei and tons more.

It has a lovely cafe and gift shop, but you can take a picnic if the weather’s nice.

You have to book online so have a look at their website (links above). I only paid six quid! As under 18s are free. (I went with my daughter.) Parking is included in the entrance fee.

Not only is it a veritable feast for your peepers, being in all that nature is good for your mental health too.

Anyhoo, here are a few examples of the delights I got to see. I missed quite a few too. I could’ve easily spent another couple of hours there so allow yourself plenty of time.

Plus, on top of all that, did I mention it’s in Yorkshire! What more could you want?

Lola was feeling left out. She’s a work of art in my book.
Getting ready to play Pooh sticks with the young ‘un. (I lost.)

I actually wrote a blog post about YSP in 2014 which is here if you want to compare and contrast.

για τη δέκατη μούσα μου

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Promises, promises.


Just over three years ago, I made myself a promise that I would do some form of art every day.

Not as a form of penance, by the way, but because I love doing it.

When I say, ‘art every day’, it doesn’t have to be drawing or painting. It can be writing, photography, printing, doodling – basically, anything I think is art. (Which is handy if you make the rules up.)

This year, I’ve been writing a lot of poetry. So much so, I’m thinking of publishing my second collection in the new year.

However, today, I thought I’d concentrate on my drawing and painting, as I haven’t posted any in a while. It’s mainly portraiture, with the odd abstract landscape thrown in.

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Critique


Critique

By David Milligan-Croft

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Don’t give me

That look.

The one that says

How disappointed

You are

In me.

I see it

All the time.

It’s your default

Expression.

Maybe try

A little positive

Reinforcement

Every once

In a while.

You never know,

It might just work

On you too.

Rather than being 

So judgemental.

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Sometimes,

I wish

I’d never bought

That damned

Mirror.

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