For many of us who aren’t artists, painting is one of those art forms that can be intimidating before you even try. You might think you have to be an artist like Picasso or Monet to hold a paintbrush, but you don’t. Think of painting as if you were drawing in the sand. Don’t have the mindset to paint a perfect masterpiece, have the mindset sit down and have fun with a loved one while painting nature.
I’ve seen some of the most beautiful artwork from patients with dementia.
Through my observation of painting groups, there seems to be a relaxed atmosphere where there are moments of quiet, moments of laughter, moments of small talk, and lots of creativity. There is no right or wrong when painting, or should there be in any art form.
I am not a painter so I can only offer some simple techniques that I have found that work to make simple paintings.
First off, here are the supplies you will need:
- Paints of your choice like watercolors (nontoxic) (I used Crayola® tempera paint because I had that on hand)
- Paint brushes of various sizes (For small projects the smallest brushes work best)
- Canvas (I used white cardstock for this project so I could fit it into a frame) You may wish to cut your paper to fit the frame it will go into prior to painting. I cut mine beforehand because the frames I used was very small.
- Small frames (I used 2 X 3 frames found at the dollar store)
These are just some suggestions that worked for me. Please encourage your loved one to experiment however you wish.
- I used the tip of the brush to make the petals, the tip of the brush handle to make the centers, and a small kids brush to make the grass and stems.
- I used the tip of the brush and did not worry about painting fins, although you may wish to.
- Trees come in so many different forms. They can be bare, have leaves, grow apples, have birds and nests in them, etc.. What do you picture your tree to be? Use larger brush strokes for the trunk, smaller strokes for the branches, tips of the brush for leaves, the tip of a pencil eraser for apples, etc.. I used a very small brush to dab on leaves. I used two different colors of green.
- Use wavy lines with peaks. Mountains from a distance are so many different colors especially, blues, grays, and purples.
To finish off your painting and use it as a gift
- Cut the paper to fit a frame and give it as a gift. Don’t forget to sign it!
- You may set it on a table as a decoration.
- You may glue a small magnet on the back of it and put it on your refrigerator. (Or place it in a refrigerator magnet frame.)
- One technique I have seen work well with dementia patients is to set something on a table, such as a figurine, some flowers, etc.. and have them paint it.
- Experiment with other painting tools like sponges, feathers, leaves, cotton balls, or whatever you can find that might make an interesting painting.
- Experiment with playing soft music in the background to set the mood.
- Limit choices, such as what you are painting, for loved ones with dementia. For example, today just focus on painting flowers. Also limit choices in color. You may want to just bring out just one color at a time. Too many choices can sometimes lead to confusion and frustration.