· Watercolor paint (washable markers can also work if the artist has difficulty grasping a paint brush)
· Water color paper or card stock
· 1” or 2” paint brush
· Water containers that are low and flat and do not look like a drinking glass
Helpful Hints for Using Watercolor:
· A kitchen or dining room table is an ideal location.
· Limit distractions if possible. If your loved one is in a care facility, ask if they can provide a quiet place for you to work.
· Model painting for your loved one. Often times if you jump right in the Alzheimer’s artist will follow. If this isn’t the case, refer to the strategies listed below.
· Avoid being too helpful or correcting. There are no mistakes in art.
· Ask your loved one to describe their completed artwork (i.e. tell me about your artwork). They may surprise you with a story about their past.
Strategies to Encourage the “Paint to the Paper”:
· Use your loved one’s hobbies and interests as an inspiration. 2-D or 3-D props (i.e. pictures from magazines, a vase of flowers, etc) can be helpful.
· Ask the artist to choose his favorite color or pick a color that matches what he is wearing.
· Instruct the artist to tear blue painter’s tape and place around the paper; paint over and around the tape and then remove it.
· Turn the paper for a different perspective.
· Use a larger brush.
· Use other materials for painting: sponges, sticks, toothbrushes, rags, etc.
· If the artist resists painting, offer watercolor pencils or watercolor markers, oil pastels, or a sketch pad.
· Give the artist a 1 or 2” brush and ask him to wet the paper with water. Then load up a smaller brush with paint and ask the artist to touch the wet paper.
· Use geometric shapes – circle, triangle, square, etc. to trace around. Try to give your artist as much independence as possible with tracing. Let them choose the object and place it on the paper. Everyday objects such as a hammer, spoon, or banana can also be used.
· Place lengths of ribbon of various colors in front of the artist and ask them to paint colored lines on their paper.
· Ask the artist to trace around their hands and then paint the traced hands. Talk about things their hands have done over the years.
· Reminisce about houses they have lived in. Encourage them to paint one of those houses.
· Use plastic grapes as an inspiration, and encourage the artist to start by painting circles like the grapes.
· Try different sizes of paper – big, small or square may inspire a new painting.
· Cue when they stop painting, remind and guide.
Article written by: La Doris “Sam” Heinly, MSW, Alzheimer’s Association Orange County, National Memories in the Making Consultant, and Leah Monson, Esq., MSW, Alzheimer’s Association Orange County.
For more information about the Alzheimer’s Association call 800.272.3900 or visit www.alz.org.