Collaborative Art

Staff Have Fun Learning How to Paint While Learning Valuable Insights about Caregiving

” I learned to put trust in another person when I could hardly trust myself.” Caregiver and workshop participant

Nineteen staff members of a senior living community gathered for an art workshop unlike any they ever expected. Some were already nervous about painting for the first time. But before they could even put their first brushstroke on their canvas, they learned that any expectations they had of learning how to paint were going to involve a lot more than listening to and watching the instructor!

With their eyes closed and relying on their other senses, they worked collaboratively with their peers to complete their beach paintings. This was just one of the many challenges that they had to overcome that gave them a deeper insight and empathy for those they care for who have mobility and sight impairments.

After completing a collaborative diptych (a painting composed of two panels), participants were asked what they appreciated or learned. Many people shared that they learned how to trust others, value teamwork, and appreciated getting to know other members of the staff in a relaxed and fun atmosphere. One person shared: “I learned that painting is a beautiful thing; it shows how beautiful the world can be when you share it with people you love.”

Collaborative Art by Preschoolers from Leesburg Open Arms

We made a acrylic painting of a park near their school (Olde Isaac Walton Park in Leesburg, VA).

We made an acrylic painting of a park near their school (Olde Isaac Walton Park in Leesburg, VA).

What a joy and privilege it was to be asked to lead an afternoon painting workshop for a class of about 15 preschoolers at Leesburg Open Arms Preschool in Leesburg, VA this summer!

The image we painted is based on Olde Isaac Walton public park located walking distance from their school. We had a great time learning about different types of brushes and supplies and then each child came up one at a time to add a different part of the painting. Here we are celebrating all the hands that painted this collaborative work of art!

“Funny Birds” –A Collaborative Community Gift of Art

"Funny Birds"

This is one of the eight funny, multi-media collage paintings we made for local nursing home residents.

This project was a gift for local nursing home residents, and represents the collaborative creative efforts of nearly 25 of my students, from preschoolers to retired seniors, and took 5 months to complete in three different venues!  It features 8 large canvases featuring trees and birds in winter and spring scenes, including baby birds in blossoming trees. We began by creating winter scenes of birds “dressed up” for winter. But the project took months to complete so we included some spring scenes as well since we delivered the work in the spring. The icing on the cake was meeting the recipients of our gift and treating them to a variety show at the same time!  


Community Gift of Art– “Butterfly Garden”

The painting at left is one of six panels that are a part of this project which began in June 2009. Nearly 30 people contributed their talent and love to offer a tangible gift of love to shut-in residents in our community. Children of all ages, my art therapy clients (senior adults with mobility, sight and memory impairments at the Loudoun County Adult Day Center), as well as visitors to my home studio, participated with me. It took us three months to complete. I hope you’ll take a moment to see the full project. It’s sure to warm your heart!

Displayed at Loudoun Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Leesburg, VA and then at Blue Ridge Hospice in Winchester, VA.

Watch the slide show (requires Flash)


Community Gift of Art–“Mary’s House of Hope”

Five of my art students (ages 6-9) worked collaboratively with me in 2008 to create a house portrait for a local transitional shelter for homeless women with very young children.

This project features the work of students in my Budding Artists class. Each semester we pool together our creativity to bless others in our community through an “Art to Heart” project using our skills as artists. During our spring 2008 semester, we decided that we wanted to do something for homeless families in our local area. We decided to do a house portrait for the residents staying at Mary’s House of Hope, a transitional shelter for moms with very young children in Loudoun County. We combined soft pastels, oil pastels and markers with hearts of joy and love to create this one-of-a-kind gift of art.