On Not Being Able to Paint: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

On Not Being Able to Paint

1st Edition

By Marion Milner


272 pages | 1 Color Illus.

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Paperback: 9780415550789
pub: 2010-09-23
Hardback: 9780415550765
pub: 2010-09-28
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eBook (VitalSource) : 9780203833650
pub: 2010-09-09
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Milner’s great study, first published in 1950, discusses the nature of creativity and those forces which prevent its expression. In focusing on her own beginner’s efforts to draw and paint, she analyses not the mysterious and elusive ability of the genius but – as the title suggests – the all too common and distressing situation of ‘not being able’ to create.

With a new introduction by Janet Sayers, this edition of On Not Being Able to Paint brings the text to the present generation of readers in the fields of psychoanalysis, education and all those, specialist and general audiences alike, with an interest or involvement in the creative process and those impulses impeding it in many fields.


"[This is a book] that has done so much over the years to bring about awareness of the interplay of inner and outer reality in art and in everyday life." – Janet Sayers, from the Introduction.

"By engaging with the creative process through her book, [Milner] comes to appreciate the intrinsic value in the process of painting as a tool for greater self-awareness and engagement with life rather than something separate from living. And this frees her (and all of us who relate to her perspective) from the expectation that each work should be a masterpiece. … On Not Being Able to Paint highlights the value of the creative process as a vehicle for achieving a transcendent state in which there is a complete loss of self-consciousness and a sense of oneness with the subject matter." - Josie Eastwood

Table of Contents

Freud, Foreword. Introduction. Note to Second Edition. Sayers, New Introduction. Part I: The Emergence of The Free Drawings. What the Eye Likes. Being Separate and Being Together. Outline and the Solid Earth. The Plunge into Colour. The Necessity of Illusion. Part II: The Content of the Free Drawings. Monsters Within and Without. Disillusion and Hating. Preserving What One Loves. Part III: The Method of the Free Drawings. Reciprocity and Ordered Freedom. Refusal of Reciprocity. Ideals and the Fatal Prejudice. Rhythm and the Freedom of the Free Drawings. The Concentration of the Body. Part IV: The Use of the Free Drawings. The Role of the Medium. The Role of Images. Part V: The Use of Painting. Painting and Living. Painting as Making Real. Postscript: What it Amounts To. Appendix.

About the Author

Marion Milner (1900-1998) was a distinguished British psychoanalyst, educationalist, autobiographer and artist.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Movements / Psychoanalysis
PSYCHOLOGY / Psychotherapy / General
PSYCHOLOGY / Creative Ability