Art to Elders – A Work of Love

For the past ten years, I have been working with a most interesting population of individuals. They have offered me a wealth of wisdom, from their stories to their habits, from their aches and pains to their memory loss. That group of people has been the elderly.

This past decade I have been studying how visual expression through painting has benefited senior citizens.

Research confirms the positive benefits creating has on the brain, whether it is painting or music, dance or theatre, the brain responds to visual stimuli. But I don’t need to cite any research to tell you my findings.

From a blank canvas to a finished product and all of the color in between, I have noticed the gratification that comes when a student begins and ends a painting session.

I have witnessed how art-making reduces stress, fear, and anxiety. It decreases agitation and possible emotional outbursts on students with Alzheimer’s and Dementia. It increases cognitive functioning and has the ability to positively alter the mind. It increases communication, enhances memory, reduces feelings of loneliness and awakens curiosity.

Art alone is very powerful, but I have also found the connection that students have with their instructor is just as valuable. This age group responds well to bonding with others and benefit from the class structure and routine. Patience and attention go a long way with students who not only need instruction for proper painting technique but also need love and compassion.

Loving instruction that never rushes or criticizes and always offers genuine feedback is all part of the job of an art therapist. In my experience, enthusiasm and positive energy given by the instructor is a necessary component for a successful art therapy session.

I have seen so many people find a new talent, leaving with the desire to draw and paint every day. People left behind lots of beautiful memories to their loved ones with the art that they created.

I read before that the fountain of youth is always learning something new and the amount of excitement that I have seen among my students is the best payment.

This is a quick brush stroke to what teaching art looks like. Exchanging the spreading of love for meaningful connection.

Life is beautiful and using art to enhance it is amazing.

I continue teaching but I am a full-time Custom Pet Portrait artist now.

Thank you for letting me share my story.

This post was co-written and edited by Bianca Lago. 

Upcoming OPA Events

Eastern Regional Exhibition 2021 Eastern Regional Exhibition
The Eastern Regional Exhibition will be hosted by the ArtCenter Manatee, located in Bradenton, Florida, September 28 through October 22, 2021. Learn More!
OPA Fall 2021 Online Showcase OPA Fall 2021 Online Showcase
The Fall 2021 Online Showcase is from November 1 - December 15, 2021 and will be open to Signature and Associate members only. Learn More!
Western Regional Exhibition 2021 Western Regional Exhibition
The Western Regional Exhibition will be held October 15 through November 27, 2021 at the Mary R. Koch Arts Center (Mark Arts), located in Wichita, Kansas. More details to be announced as they become available. Learn More!
31st Annual National Juried Exhibition 31st Annual National Juried Exhibition and Convention
The Thirty-first National Exhibition and Convention will be located in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. The Convention will be from May 31 through June 5, 2022. The Exhibition will be from June 3 to August 27, 2022.