Earth spins slowly when Anthony Doneley (61) paints. In front of the canvas, all vibrant colours blend in peaceful synchrony; there are no tremors when he paints, and his Parkinson “knows that”.
Anthony has attended art classes since September 2022 at Amici House and is stimulated to continuously think out of the box. However, to describe his artistic journey precisely, it is essential to go back in time.
Anthony taught primary school for about 40 years, in which pressure and stress were inseparable components of his busy routine. That’s when COVID first hit in 2020.
“By that stage, I had already been thinking: I can’t do this [teaching] much longer. The stress and the tension, constant headaches and the knot in my back are getting worse and worse,” he says.
“With the beginning of COVID, I suddenly noticed that I had started shaking. I got all organised to see a specialist about that, and I’ll never forget thinking it was nonsense; I’m just stressed.”
That day, Anthony was diagnosed with Parkinson’s.
Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder that causes unintended or uncontrollable movements and difficulty with balance and coordination.
Even so, in Anthony’s case, such disturbances as shaking rarely happen when he is painting, meaning he doesn’t have to hold his hand to try and get a straight line, for example.
“When painting, I feel like reaching a neutral zone with peace and no pressure. I don’t feel like being scrutinised because that’s when I naturally get a bit of a tremor,” says Anthony.
On the verge of finalising his 39th piece, Anthony’s artistic portfolio varies from birds to portraits, including the image of U.S. former president Barack Obama. His fondest work is the kookaburra – which took him four weeks to finish.
In addition to the art classes, Anthony sees his progress with Parkinson’s soar through Amici House’s Stay Active – classes to facilitate general fitness for seniors, including stretches, balance, cardiovascular fitness, strength and coordination activities.
“Amici House has changed my life for the better. Now, because of it, I feel a sense of positivity about my future. I think things are not just all doom and gloom because now I can shape my future,” completes Anthony.
Anthony is able to participate in the activities thanks to his NDIS funding and Co.As.It. Community Services.