Thursday, June 27, 2013

Summer Break

Yesterday we had our last class before the summer break.
We had a very small, quiet and content group.
It's nice when that happens.  

We set up some simple flower arrangements for them, 
and encouraged them to just "make marks" 
and put down whatever they feel.  

This gal is not a 3rd floor resident,
but loves to come to the class. 
(She is an artist)  
The others are fascinated by what she does. 
And she sweetly encourages them to 
"just have fun" with it! 

I hope you are enjoying this journey we are on together.
It's an incredible experience for me 
and I feel blessed to have the opportunity to 
work with these amazing and talented people! 

See you back here in the Fall! 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Everyday objects

My dear friend and assistant Judith 
came up with the idea of having the residents paint  
everyday objects;
toothpaste and brush, scissors, paint brushes, markers, pencils,
colorful spatulas, pliers. etc.
To our great delight,
they got right to work and seemed to love
the subject! 

Since we discovered that
the less we try to guide and control the project,
the more creative they are,
it's so much more fun!

Most of the residents have lost their fear 
No more: "I'm not an artist!" "Why are we doing this".
Instead, they just smile and get to work. 
Enjoy the following! 

I am always touched by how caring and encouraging 
 residents are with each other. 
The conversations they have with each other are priceless. 
(That would be a blog all on it's own! )
Thanks for following.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Seven Myths of Alzheimer's

This week the residents were upbeat and happy 
and it didn't take long before they were engaged. 
We put out simple vases filled with colorful flowers 
and just let them go.  
New to class, this man told me he was color blind
so he couldn't paint.   

He worked on this the whole time very quietly,
 then said "I was trying to paint the sun, 
but couldn't get it bright enough,
so I made everything around it darker"! 

(We had a good laugh when he said
"it looks like a banana!")  

Last week she slept, 
this week she did this!

By finally letting them "go" 
they are finally letting go!  
Who knew? 
Patterns. Circles. Lips?

The creative juices are flowing now!
I no longer try to "guide" them toward anything 
and they seem more comfortable with the idea of 
just putting paint on the paper 
(for no other reason than it's fun!) 

The paintings below say it all!  
purple vase, bright flowers 


blue vase

This artist said,
 "oh hell. I have no idea what I'm doing
 but that was fun! " 

 We put out black markers for those that like to draw

I just love this.
The artist agonized over it,
smiling the whole time. 

Learning as I go.... an incredible journey. 

Seven Myths About People with Alzheimer's Disease
They can't remember anything
They have lost their identity
They have no attention span
They can't make decisions
They always have an aggressive phase
They can't enjoy anything because they forget
They can't learn

Thursday, April 25, 2013

More Progress

I was so buoyed by the work the group did last session,
 we set up some forsythia and fruit
and hoped they would just let go. 
Not so much. 
Everyone was very sleepy (it was very hot in there!)  
so it was hard to get them going. 

These two were sitting next to each other, 
so one was copying every move the other one  made. 

Pat really enjoys playing with the paint 
and works so hard.
"The forsythia is using the apple as 
a vase." 

It took a lot for this to happen. 
In between naps. 

And then there is this! 

Weirdly, when I changed the name of this blog from 
Patience with Patients
Connecting with Paint
I somehow lost all the subscribers! 
Please e-mail the link to THIS blog to anyone 
you know who may be interested in following!  

Thank you! 

Thursday, April 11, 2013


At my very informative meeting with Dr. Zeisel a few weeks ago,
he suggested that I start encouraging the class members 
to work more independently. 
He thought that by "drawing shapes for them to color in" 
was preventing them from expressing themselves freely. 

So today I brought in some colorful flower arrangements
for them to look at and told them to
just put down on the paper whatever came to them. 
That would have terrified them a few months ago, 
but today, they completely surprised me 
and the work they did was amazing! 

This was done by a woman who has never uses 
more than one color when she paints. 

Pat was a little confused at first and 
asked me repeatedly what she was supposed to.
I told her to just let the paint tell her what to do.  

Barbara's interpretation of the flowers 
"but in a garden".   

Rita asked for a marker so she could draw in the vase, 
then painted this completely by herself! 

Another independently created piece.  

These are incredibly sophisticated pieces of work and 
so much more expressive than I ever imagined they could be.  
I am thrilled about this "break through", 
and I thank Dr. Zeisel for encouraging me to 
 trust the process 
and let the paint do the talking. 

Speaking of breakthrough's: 
There is man named Peter who lives on the floor, 
who often walks though the dining room during class,
but never joins in or talks to anyone. 
The assistants tell me that he never sits down, 
rarely eats, and shows no emotion. 
(Only cries when listening to patriot music.) 
Today he stopped at the counter where there was 
paint set up with blank paper 
and did this! 

He quickly put the brush down and walked out,
but the fact that he actually painted amazed everyone.  


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Dr. John Zeisel

I was honored to have a meeting with 
Dr. John Zeisel the author of 
I'm Still Here

An innovator in non pharmacologic approaches to treating Alzheimer's,
he proves that people with the illness are highly creative and emotionally intelligent.

We are collaborating on a possible exhibit 
of some of the work done in my painting classes. 
I am incredibly excited about working with him and will
keep you posted as we move forward. 
In the mean time,
here is a very informative  4 minute trailer 
of a show he just did for PBS. 

Simple Egg Shapes

The "regulars" were already sitting 
at the tables when I got there today.
Given the sudden change of season and the full moon, 
I'd just traced a simple egg shape on paper to get them started. 

I had some pre-drawn patterns ready to go 
for those who need a little guidance. 

Arlene wanted nothing to do with this 
but managed to get paint on the paper! 

This woman lives on a different floor 
and doesn't have dementia.

After she did her "madras" egg
she did this sweet still life from her head. 
Barbara wasn't her usual perky self today 
but still did her creative "thing".
She lit up when I told her they looked

My favorite thing is when they take a blank paper and just 
paint whatever comes to them. 

Rita wanted to throw this away and I pleaded with her 
not too!