A Snowman picture just seemed appropriate for the first art class in January at my mom’s assisted living facility. The roads were snow-covered and the trees glistened with ice. Brrr. I think we should have had some hot chocolate as well. As Loraine took her seat, she told me her daughter had taken down most of the pictures in her room last week. She said, “I asked her, why did you do that?” Her reply? “Well, Mom, they are seasonal, I took down the autumn pictures.” Loraine must have shown some discontent over that because then she smiled and said, “she put them all back up.” I love that Loraine and her daughter post her artwork on the wall in her room. And I also like the look of the changing seasons displayed there. That’s very fun.
My granddaughter, Aubrey, was still on Christmas break during this time so she was able to join us for this class. What a great helper! She filled the pint jars up with water and laid out all the paints. As the residents began to paint, she hovered around me. “Bre, would you like to paint a snowman too?” She jumped up and down, clapped her hands, and said, “yes!” I feel blessed as I watch my mother and my granddaughter paint together. Three generations of “wanna be” artists. Four actually as my mother’s Aunt Ruth was also a painter. Mom has one of Aunt Ruth’s pictures hanging in her room.
This is the class I mentioned in my last post where only 5 residents were able to join us. As I reported, illness and exhaustion that incurred over the holidays still lingered for many of the residents. And I’m sad to say, two of the participants won’t be joining us again. One has been moved permanently to the nursing home wing, and the other passed away in December. They both came regularly, and I was surprised to hear this news. These are the first I’ve lost. And it is indeed very sad. And humbling somehow. I will miss them in class. But I think I’ll track down that “new” nursing home resident and have a chat with her this week. She may not be able to paint, and she may not even know me — she wasn’t very chatty even in class — but I’m going to find her. I’m hoping to find just a twinkle of recognition in her eyes. If not, that’s ok, we’ll still have a nice little visit, and I know, in any case, she’ll brighten my day.
I’ll share a few of their snowman pictures below. This was just an easy drawing I sketched onto their canvas boards. I hesitated to present such a simple picture to them, but it worked out well for that first class in January as my “artists” were still a bit spent from their December activities. They appreciated the simplicity of the little guy, and most were exhausted and ready to be done by the time 2 hours rolled away.
The next class, I prepared a fireside picture for them. There were a few moans as I set the picture in front of them for as simple as the last picture was, this one was a bit more detailed. “Oh my, I don’t think I can do it.” This made me smile for I know I can usually count on Phyllis to be initially overwhelmed by the white board “Oh, Phyllis, sure you can. You’re just frightened by that blank canvas. Here, I can help you out.” And with that, I took a paintbrush and put a few strokes of red onto her fireplace. “See? Now, it’s no longer a blank canvas, just finish what I started, and then keep going.” And she did. Here is her picture along with her classmates. Mom said, “This was a fun one to do.”
And I know this post has gotten long, but if you’ll allow me, I have one more set of pictures to share, and then we’ll wrap up January. I try to mix it up every few weeks so the residents don’t get bored with painting a canvas. So this week, I printed bookmarks onto card stock. After they painted them, I laminated them and cut them into the individual bookmarks.
Before class started, I found a woman I had never seen peddling her wheelchair down the hall. She had stopped and was “catching her breath” as I came upon her. “Hi, can I help get somewhere? Where are you going?” She sighed and said, “Yes! I want to go to that art class down there.” Well how do you like that? So I pushed her into the room and wheeled her up next to my mom. Come to find out, this woman has only been a resident for 10 days, however, she and mom knew each other in high school. Phyllis (yes another sweet Phyllis) had moved out of the area right after high school. She is now a widow who never had children. She came back to this area to be with old school friends. 60 years later. Phyllis shared some of her story with me. Life is funny. We do not know the twists and turns our lives will take. Thankfully, there is always a curtain that veils our tomorrows. Welcome back, Phyllis, I hope you find joy and happiness here.
And guess who showed up to class? Yep, Jeannette — the one who has been longing to paint a big picture on a canvas board. Jeannette has come to three classes, and has not yet painted on a canvas board. Maybe next time….. stay tuned.