Review: On Not Being Able to Paint: By Marion Milner


This theme, which gradually becomes clear to the reader, is foreshadowed in an early quotation: ‘Concepts can never be presented to me merely, they must be knitted into the structure of my being, and this can only be done through my own activity’ (M. P. Follett, Creative Experience).

The central concept which is presented to the reader and apprehended by the writer through the writing of the book has to do with the subjective way of experiencing and the role of this in creative process. Thus the book is in one sense a plea for the recognition of subjectivity as having its own place and way of functioning, just as legitimate and as necessary as objectivity, but different. As applied to education, it is pointed out that subjectivity must be understood by teachers, otherwise the objectivity aimed at must be in danger of fatal distortion. Painting comes in as a jumping-off place; it was the surprise of discovering the power to make ‘free’drawings’..

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