Artist says his hobby is a distraction from Parkinson’s

michael hill painting
michael hill painting Image credit:

When Michael Hill was diagnosed with a debilitating illness he turned to his creative skills to give him a second purpose in life.

The 68-year-old from Rolleston suspected he may have Parkinsons disease after reading an article featuring Mike Tindall talking about his father who has the same condition.

Mr Hill was told he was living with the illness four years ago, determined not to let his health stand in his way he took up abstract painting.

Michael told Staffordshire Live: "I think I started noticing it back in May 2017. I was on holiday and I was sitting in the pub with some friends. I noticed that my left arm wasn't quite responding and was shaking a little bit.

"A few days later I read an article in the newspaper about Mike Tindall's father. He was talking about the early symptoms and that's when I recognised what he was talking about.

"About a month later I went to the GP to get myself checked out then I went on to a specialist who confirmed that I had Parkinson's.

"I was initially devastated. It didn't help that following the diagnosis in February 2018 I had a really bad infection and I spent about nine weeks in Derby hospital.

"It was at that time that I started to get into art. Derby Hospital has a gallery and I found myself walking around there a lot. You tend to find yourself forgetting certain issues."

The artist went on to explain how his art helps him express emotions and how he found his new talent after being discharged from hospital.

He said:  "I prefer abstract art really. I can't do anything figurative because I am not interested in just replicating the world as it is on canvas.

"When I started, I thought about my intuitions. I tried to reflect on what my brain was doing in my work. I've always liked art and the art world but I never did it before because I didn't really see myself as being the creative type.

"I think coming out of the hospital really brought that out in me.

"The art I produce is so distinctive and I just do what I am inspired by. I am lucky that I haven't been massively physically impacted by Parkinson's yet.

"I think art has enabled me to find that emotional stance.

"In terms of artists I like, I love Picasso, Piet Mondrian, Terry Frost and Peter Lanyon. I wouldn't say I was inspired by them because I don't specifically look at other artists to make it more personal.

"The one exception to that rule I have is John McLean. He was a painter who had Parkinson's. I have a special affection for his work. "

The former IT worker said taking up art is an escape from living with a disability and his medication plays a part in his work.

"When I am working, everything else in the world disappears. I don't really start pre-planned. I very much do it on the spur of the moment,” he explained.

"It is like an impulse for me. I often think to myself that the work I do is inspired by the medication I am on. I can go for two or three hours at a time in one hit. I don't like leaving my garage or summerhouse until I have finished. I'm sometimes there until four or five in the morning.

"Art definitely has a place in therapy."

He added: "I don't think people realise all the things that come with Parkinson's, it is not just about the shakes. If you get diagnosed, don't think it is the end of your life.

"I want to do something differently. Art is an active process and I always want to carry on with the work I am doing."

"I love what I do irrespective of what people think of my art."

Pablo Picasso’s real name is Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Martyr Patricio Clito Ruíz y Picasso.