watercolor workshop day

One day every month we hold a watercolor workshop at Parkview Memory Care! The structure of the class is based on the criteria that the Alzheimer's Society recommends, but since many of our residents are advanced in age and dementia, I have changed the rules a bit in order to better suit them. We use high-quality watercolor paper, paint, and brushes in order for the residents to have a satisfying experience. Good materials means richer colors and easier mark-making. 

Each resident starts out by choosing a warm and a cool watercolor of their liking to start their painting with. Once they have chosen these, I do a brief demo of the the technique that we are learning that day. By emphasizing technique rather than having the residents use a photo reference, there is much less pressure for folks to make their paintings look photo-realistic. Many residents already have anxiety about doing something well. Some of them used to make intricate quilts, knit beautiful sweaters, or even paint rich landscapes, but feel like they have lost all artistic or design sensibilities because of their age or dementia. The most challenging part of my job as an instructor here is just talking folks into making the first marks on the page. I'm really more of an art cheerleader!     

On a good day, once folks get into the flow of mark-making, they just go! It's a beautiful thing. Each resident naturally falls into their own style/preferences. Kathryn loves making caricatures of fellow residents. Ed makes his black and pink abstract turtles. Barbara creates expressive fields of color. Jean paints a garden that doubles as a self-portrait... Of course, there are many questions and concerns that pop up in a painting session. Some are very humorous, and have nothing to do with painting, as you will see in the video below.

Just a note- Out of respect for residents, I want to get written consent from their families in order to post faces. Until this happens I am keeping it hands and paintings only (with the Halloween mask exceptions of post 1). 

It's always amazing when we get Jean to join in the watercolor workshop, but here she was in rare form with her interview questions :D

hello + halloween masks

One day a week I work as an Art Therapist + Activities Assistant with elderly folks who have dementia and Alzheimers at a memory care facility (assisted living home) here in Portland Oregon. About 40 residents live here, but usually about 10-15 of them participate in an activity at a time. We start out with chair yoga or ball toss and trivia in the morning. After lunch we do some housekeeping, such as towel folding, followed by Arts and Crafts! Then we'll go on a group walk and play a card or dice game before dinner. I've been doing this for over two years, and it is a very rewarding and challenging experience. I love these people!

My goal is for this blog to be a platform for sharing the weekly art + craft projects that we create at Parkview. I will likely include other random blurbs here and there too. You can see more Art Therapy adventure pics on my Instagram page @renazerbean. Thanks for stoppin by!

 

Kathryn and her pumpkin mask!

Kathryn and her pumpkin mask!

Ed and his cat mask! 

Ed and his cat mask! 

Barbara cutting out the antennae for her moth mask! 

Barbara cutting out the antennae for her moth mask!