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Healthy Aging Month: Residents learn watercolor techniques virtually

Amy Weiss | Sep 8, 2020

Ron, Thelma, and Arlene may have different backgrounds, but they have at least one thing in common (in addition to living at Walker Methodist Levande)… They all decided to try learning something new: watercolor painting. Prior to June, Ron hadn’t painted since elementary school. Thelma is a talented calligraphy artist learning to paint birch trees, birds, and flowers. And Arlene, who can paint detailed scenes on sand dollars and china plates, is learning new watercolor techniques.

The virtual art class, thanks to a grant through the East Central Regional Art Center, is open to all skill levels. Each resident learns art basics, develops watercolor techniques, and creates his or her own artwork.

Learning during a pandemic


Before COVID-19 was a reality, Thelma used to visit the art room at Levande often. Because of new policies and safety guidelines, she’s no longer able to create in that space. That’s why she was delighted to continue her artistic expression in a new way. For Ron, the class has been a welcome cognitive and creative challenge. “The class has meant a lot to me,” he said. “It keeps my spirits up, it makes me think and focus, and it makes me feel healthy.”

Anne McFaul Reid, the instructor from the Community Programs in the Arts (COMPAS), received rave reviews from residents. They appreciate the way she explains techniques and gives all students time to practice what they’ve learned. Since the class is on Zoom, residents can also see other participants, share their artwork, and offer encouragement.

The interactive format has been a hit among participants, especially Arlene. “The way I paint—with oil, acrylic, and china paint—is extremely different than watercolor,” she explained. “It’s challenging to learn a new thing, but I’m going to keep trying. I have a list of questions for the instructor. For me, painting is so relaxing, and it’s fun to visit with the other residents.”

New skills, endless possibilities


One benefits of the class is that residents can use their new skills after the instruction ends. Residents will be equipped to keep creating, experiment with techniques, and develop their own styles. There’s even been talk of a post-COVID art exhibit to display the beautiful paintings residents created during the course.

It’s never too late to learn something new, hone a skill, or start a hobby. “You just have to be brave enough to take that first step,” said Ron. “And it helps that watercolor is more forgiving. If I mess up, I just add more water.”

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