Make Art Not War

Last April I went to a painting workshop. It was a special one where Ingrid Christie, the artist in residence at Castle Craig, showed a Romanian group of addiction counsellors how art can help people to build confidence. She put us in front of white canvases, put brush and paint in our hands — just like she would do with the patients at Castle Craig.

First she explained some basic techniques to help us get started and she gave us a theme. “Don’t be anxious,” she said, “you don’t have to create artworks for exhibitions. Relax and enjoy.”

In front of the blank canvases our imagination was unleashed and we painted for a couple of hours, forgetting what was happening outside. I was amazed by how diverse our paintings were. I drew a whirl which I called “elemental storm” and felt very proud of it. I couldn’t believe it was me who had painted it. I took it home and stuck it on my wardrobe with sellotape.

The freedom of expression is crucial, says Ingrid: “Nothing is judged to be right or wrong. The painting simply is what it is, without boundaries or having to think about getting a likeness of something which is already there. The art groups I run focus mainly on abstraction. The work comes purely from within and shows feelings and life experiences.”

Guess who else started painting? The former president of America George W. Bush. “I love to paint”, he said in an interview with ABC News. “Painting has changed my life in an unbelievably positive way.” He likes to paint mostly dogs but his bathroom portraits are the most popular ones.

We invite you to discover the amazing art created at our clinic by following the Castle Craig Art Group page on Facebook, that Ingrid started especially for this purpose. Every two weeks you can see new and surprising works and we would appreciate if you can give your feedback there.