Art Therapy. By mistake?

I don’t know much of anything about art therapy – strangely the topic has never come up apart from bits and pieces slipped into TV programs. But I think I might have done some without realising the other weekend.

How exactly it happened is a bit fuzzy, but here’s what I remember: I was in the kitchen unpacking shopping, following a conversation I got angry and went away to my room. I was seriously angry and more than a little upset. If it had been nice weather I would have gone outside to hack at a bush or dig a hole, but it wasn’t and I was stuck pacing inside. I caught sight of two canvases I never finished and hadn’t much liked, and after the tiniest hesitation I yanked out them and my paints, turned on the radio, and started going at them.

I had a huge house-painting sized brush and squeezed the paint straight from the tubes onto the canvas and slashed it about. Pukey green-yellow, black, purple, sunflower, steel. One background done and needing to dry, I moved onto the second.


Red and more black, pink, yellow and electric blue. By the time I’d done that one too I was slightly out of breath. But I felt better. I was still angry, but it was inside-the-skin anger; controllable.

I don’t know what proper art therapy is or how it works, but if it takes uncontrollable or inexpressible emotions and blunts the edge just enough to let you think with some rationality, to deal with them instead of being ruled by them. . . got to be good right?

Hopefully my canvases will turn out equally good: on top of my emotion-fuelled backgrounds I’m adding the detail with a cool head, which I’m hoping will turn them into complete paintings. Not finished yet!


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