Tag Archives: mental health

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.”

10 Comments

Filed under Art, Books, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Education, Haiku, Ideas, Illustration, Innovation, Inspiration, Literature, love, Medicine, mental health, Nature, nhs, Poetry, Uncategorized, Writing

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.

3 Comments

Filed under Art, Children, community, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Design, Education, Games, Ideas, Illustration, Innovation, Inspiration, mental health, Uncategorized

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.

4 Comments

Filed under Art, community, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Education, Games, health, Ideas, Illustration, Innovation, Inspiration, Medicine, mental health, nhs, Uncategorized

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

5 Comments

Filed under Art, Ceramics, Children, community, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Disability, Education, Ideas, Innovation, Inspiration, love, mental health, Nature, Photography, Sculpture, Uncategorized

Critique


Critique

By David Milligan-Croft

.

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.

.

Sometimes,

I wish

I’d never bought

That damned

Mirror.

.

5 Comments

Filed under Art, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Ideas, Inspiration, mental health, Poetry, Uncategorized, Writing

The Perfect Poetry Antidote


Friday is Library Day for patients on Arden Ward at Stepping Hill Hospital.

And, if you didn’t know already, reading is very good for your mental health. (Probably not if it’s by Piers Morgan or the Tory party manifesto, mind.)

Reading quality literature and poetry, however, is proven to alleviate stress and anxiety.

Quite serendipitously, I came across this collection of poetry by Mary Dickins entitled Happiness FM. I thought her poem, ‘How to administer a poem in an emergency’ was perfectly apt for the group. So, I thought I’d share it with you.

And here is the poem from whence the collection takes its name.

Of course, our visits to the library aren’t just about reading. They’re about social interaction and doing other mindful activities.

While I was writing this post on a rainy Sunday evening in Stockport, a haiku came to mind. So, I’m going to share that with you as well.

The pitter-patter

Of rain outside my window –

Nature’s melody.

Night, night.

4 Comments

Filed under Art, Books, Comedy, community, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Disability, Education, Haiku, health, Ideas, Illustration, Innovation, Inspiration, Literature, love, Medicine, mental health, Nature, nhs, Philosophy, Poetry, Science, Uncategorized, Writing

Hawks over Haworth


Hawk hovers over

Wuthering moors, searching for

Cathy’s eidolon.

2 Comments

Filed under Animals, Art, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Education, Haiku, History, Ideas, Innovation, Inspiration, Literature, love, mental health, Nature, Photography, Poetry, Uncategorized, Writing

The 10th Muse


There were nine muses in ancient Greek mythology. Daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, they were the divine inspiration behind human artistic and scientific endeavour. Calliope is probably the most well known, she is the muse responsible for inspiring heroic/epic poetry. Erato is the inspiration behind love poetry.

Because I love art, a couple of years ago, I promised myself I would do some form of art every day. Whether it be a few lines of poetry or prose, a sketch, doodle or a painting – or even taking a photograph. I think I do two types of art – conscious and unconscious.

When I consciously do something, I think about what it is I want to paint, how I want to paint it, materials, medium, etc. And I have an image in my mind’s eye about what I want to achieve. Invariably, I am slightly disappointed with the finished piece because it never lives up to the ambition of my imagination. The enjoyment was in doing it in the first place.

The second type is my unconscious art. I pick up whatever is at hand and just express myself without thinking about it. Whether it be in words or brushstrokes. I tend to get more satisfaction out of this kind of work because I don’t have any preconceived standard I was hoping to meet in my mind.

And it is this work that I sometimes question whether it is actually ‘me’ who is doing it. Or, rather my unconscious connection to the rest of the energy of the universe that my own sub-atomic particles are inextricably linked with. My Divine Muses, if you like. I am merely a conduit to put the marks on paper, canvas, or pizza box lid. (My muses do like a lot of pizza.)

Yeah, I’m aware that all sounds a bit pretentious and hippy-trippy, but you can’t escape the fact that our subconscious selves have an awful lot to say if you only let them speak.

Anyhoo, here’s what the muses wanted me to say recently…

Frida Kahlo inspired by the novel “The Lacuna” by Barbara Kingsolver.
Inspired by The Gorillaz and the war in the Ukraine.
‘Noodle’, inspired by the Gorillaz and Euterpe.
‘Peppa loves jumping in bloody puddles,’ inspired by a recent court case in Russia over copyright.
Inspired by patients at Stepping Hill Hospital where I work.
Ditto for this one.
And this one.
Inspired by the Divine Proportion, or Golden Ratio.
Inspired by Ourania.
Inspired by Melpomene.
Inspired by Polymnia.

I am very passionate about the act of ‘doing’ art being the most important aspect of it, rather than the end result. I see the benefits of this in patients with mental illness all the time. Yes, it can be insightful, but it doesn’t have to be. It can just be mindful, cathartic, meditative, expressive. And most importantly, you don’t have to be good at art to do it – it’s about the process, not the result.

Because, when you open yourself up and let the muses in – be they divine, subconscious, or Earthly, that’s when you really feel the joy of doing art.

Oh, and the 10th Muse?

For me, it’s the Golden Ratio.

More on her another time.

I don’t think there is a muse of epic tidying.

Leave a comment

Filed under Art, community, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Education, Ideas, Illustration, Innovation, Inspiration, Literature, love, mental health, Nature, nhs, Philosophy, Photography, Poetry, Uncategorized, Writing

Reflections of Lockdown


There’s an exhibition going on at the Stockport War Memorial Art Gallery where I have a few pieces being exhibited. Nine, to be precise.

The exhibition is called ‘Stockport Together Again’ and was curated by Arc and Stockport Council to showcase the creativity of Stopfordians during lockdown.

The exhibition was opened on September 25th by Arc’s Artistic Director, Jacqui Wood and Stockport’s Lord Mayor, Adrian Nottingham. And runs until the 14th November. So, you still have a couple of weeks to get down and see it if you’re in our neck of the galaxy.

Whilst I have selfishly only included my own work in this post what really came across strongly about the work on show, was how bright, colourful and optimistic it was. Which was slightly surprising given the theme of the exhibition.

Each piece is 12″ x 12″ and done on the inside of a pizza box lid. (I ran out of canvas during lockdown.) Fortunately, I had elasticated pants for my expanding waistline. The frames are 16″ x 16″. They are done mainly in acrylic with some elements of soft pastel and collage.

The significance of the dates on this last one is they are the date my mother was born and the day that she died earlier this year. I think about her every day. The flower petals in the paint are from the arrangement on her coffin.

Anyway, these nine portraits represent some of the art I produced every day during lockdown.

7 Comments

Filed under Art, community, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Ideas, Illustration, Inspiration, love, Uncategorized

The Runes of Scars


Well, hello there.

It’s been a while.

Just thought I’d share a few haiku with the class.

Languid river flows

past weeping willows and pink

cherry blossom trees.

_________________________

Vapour trails scratch the

deep, blue sky – a pair of larks

glide without a trace.

_________________________

Was it a petal

or a butterfly, caught on

a summer zephyr?

_________________________

Then, there’s this…

I tried to flesh it out into a haiku. But the more words I added, the less powerful they became. So, I’ll leave it alone.

Suffering is written in the runes of scars.

__________________________

2 Comments

Filed under Art, community, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Education, Haiku, Ideas, Inspiration, mental health, Nature, Philosophy, Poetry, Uncategorized, Writing