For five years, I have had the pleasure of being a teaching artist for CommonBond Communities in the Twin Cities area. One of my watercolor students, Ardella, is spotlighted in this CommonBond video (Click the link above). Ardella has been one of the most committed and interested students in all my watercolor classes. Such a joy it is for me to associate with people like her!
Even though I have always painted, I spent many years as an administrator in elder care settings, working to improve dignity and quality of life for older people. Following my parallel passion for the arts, I eventually began to teach watercolor classes in these communities, and then at other senior settings, including Volunteers of America, Covenant Village of Golden Valley, The Glenn of Hopkins, and Westridge Retirement Community. Now, having hung up my administrator's hat, I get to enjoy painting and teaching exclusively.
Teaching offers me a chance to bring years of experience with older people to the creative table. Students may have significant disabilities, from dementia to diminished vision – but through encouragement, simple approaches, and a sense of play, every student can find joy in painting and learning. So teaching elders allows me to continue my commitment to improving life and "aliveness" as we age, but in richer, more fulfilling ways. Studies show that creative engagement in its various forms promotes health in elderly people. My own work as a teaching artist has offered me rewarding personal experiences with individuals who seem to blossom in the context of creativity, color, and new paths to self expression.