Finding Their Creativity at 85 years-old

As I placed the watercolor paint pots on the table, I heard a few moans from around the table.  “Where are our markers?” was the question of the day.

Earlier in the summer, trying to save myself some prep time for each class, I searched for a way to get my pictures onto the canvas without tracing and outlining each one.  After some trial and error, I settled for watercolor printer paper.  I was able to print out the pictures and adhere them to the canvas with spray adhesive.  This cut my prep time down from about 6 hours to 1 hour.  I was quite please with my creativity and the finished product.  Because I was no longer tracing the picture, I was able to use more detailed pictures for my class.

At least I was pleased for the first couple of weeks, and then a few ladies reported that their paintings were coming loose from their canvases.  “I just keep pushing it back down on the corners,” Lorraine said.   I encouraged them to use glue.  Staples.  Anything.   This process was easy for me, and I wasn’t ready to give it up.  But after several weeks, I could see that my creative bright idea just wasn’t working.

So I’m back to tracing and outlining again.  I choose big bold pictures that do not have a lot of detail.  This kind of picture is easy for me trace and then outline in black permanent marker.  The black outline is quite popular with this class due to failing eyesight.  And funny thing?  After the first couple of pictures, I realized I kind of missed this process — I love drawing these pictures out one by one for my ladies.  I now consider it a labor of love.

At the next class, I took away their markers. 

Hence the moans at the beginning of class.   Here’s the thing…  when I was giving them fine, detailed pictures, the watercolor markers made sense.  The markers made it easy for the ladies to “paint” the small areas of their pictures.  But if I’m going to prep less detailed pictures, the markers aren’t the right medium to use.  The big spaces and bold lines are perfect for painting.  And after all, this is a painting class, not a coloring class (or a marker class).

I want to challenge them to be more creative.


And yes, the blank canvas is intimidating.  I think that is really the cause of their angst.  The blank canvas — and paint brushes.  Both seem more advanced than simple markers so the ladies are a bit insecure in their abilities to create something pretty.  My own mother complains the loudest which just makes me smile.  I nudge her, and say, “You can do this Mom, just begin.  Make the first stroke.”    And before long, everyone is concentrating on their canvas, and pictures are coming alive.  I love that.  Every one has the same outline, yet every one turns out different.

I have lost a couple of residents this summer, and that causes me grief.  But I knew from the beginning, teaching a class of 80 and 90 year-olds is a temporary blessing.  Time marches on.  I don’t take any of them for granted because I don’t know who will be missing the following week.  I love these women so much.  They add a richness and fulfillment to my life that I didn’t even know I needed.


On a happy note, I have also added 3 or 4 women to my class as well.  New residents looking to fill their day with something — anything to kill some time.    Most don’t come with much hope of liking what we do.  Often they sit down at the table, mumbling under their breath, but after a painting or two, their confidence grows, their right brain kicks in, and they enjoy it very much.  I love that too.  Finding their creativity at 85 years-old is awesome.  So fun for them.  And me.  Did I tell you how much I love this class?

I am blessed.

So very very blessed.






Thank you Twinkle Lane Designs for the ice cream sundae picture.  It was a hit with the class!

Also featured today is the April Showers Bring May Flowers picture by Root Designs.

The fun cupcake picture was compliments of Color Crave Designs.

4 thoughts on “Finding Their Creativity at 85 years-old

    1. Thank you! The book shown in the pictures was very inspiring to me — I’m happy to share it with others. I think everyone could learn to draw using those lessons.

  1. I love what you’re doing with these ladies, Connie. When I first began visiting the nursing homes, I was intimidated. I didn’t know what I’d talk about or even if a resident would want me to come in. But I found such an acceptance and soon each one became like a part of my family. The hard part is, when someone passes, you often don’t know about it until you read the obit in the newspaper. You’re making life in a facility much easier for these ladies as they look forward to your next class and your encouragement. You’re such a blessing.

    1. Thank you Sally. And yes, I agree, those first visits to the assisted living home were very intimidating. But now I look forward to seeing each one of those women. They are a blessing to me.

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