Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Joy Through Watercolors

 

Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting that speaks.
-Plutarch


In Soo Lee shows off her watercolor painting.

In Soo Lee displays her watercolor painting.

Several months ago, the Council on Aging Socialization Services Department  held a series of watercolor painting sessions over an 8 week period. These sessions were in partnership with Bowers Museum as part of the Treasure Project, which brings the arts to our diverse senior community.

The Treasures partnership not only brings special museum exhibitions and performances to seniors, it also provides the opportunity to explore their own artistic self-expression, build new skills, and has had a successful therapeutic effect among the participants involved in the process.

“I’m blessed in that they wanted a watercolor class. Everybody has talent. So I was invited to this group of talented people. I smiled all the way driving here in my car,” commented Donna Tryon, the art instructor who taught the weekly class.

One such talented individual was Martin. Despite being visually impaired, Martin was able to navigate his way across the canvas with the sense of touch and an interpreter who was able to guide him orally. “It was all tactile,” explained Donna. “He just constantly felt the paper. His watercolors are amazing. His last one had a bumble bee in it and I had to wonder how does he know to place the body, how does he know to place the wings. Their communication was all verbal, and his painting was all direct himself – from brush to paper.”

Martin painting with the sense of touch.

Martin painting with the sense of touch.

For some participants, it was a chance to find themselves.

In Soo Lee said that prior to the workshop, she was depressed with nothing to occupy her day.  She’s looking forward to the chance to paint more in the future. “It helps me forget about my stress,” she said. “I felt like I became a student again. I felt young. It was one of the happiest moments of my life. I’m looking forward to more art classes and being happy. ”

Wan Son attributes his success in painting to Donna’s instruction and encouragement. It helped motivate him. Even more, he found comfort.  “When I was concentrating on the water coloring, it helped me forget my pain. Whatever I was feeling, I had time to de-stress.”

Landscape Watercolor by Wan Pae Son

For others, it was an opportunity to revisit memories of their past.

“I was very excited because as a child I learned how to draw and paint, and as an adult, I didn’t. It was great to be able to learn all the new things the instructor would teach,” said Leon.  He stood next to his work, a proud sense of accomplishment spreading across his face.

Leonel Castillo

Leonel Castillo

For Angel, it was a chance to do something he might not have otherwise been able to do. “I’m disabled, and at home, you feel really lonely. And you come over here, there is a big difference. I loved doing this painting and some of the exercises, visiting other places – all beautiful. I love this place.”

Angel Gomez

Angel Gomez

The result of their 8-week effort was revealed at BowersMuseum during a special open house in early July, which was followed by a show at the COA Socialization Services Department Office.

Donna summed up the entire experience nicely. “Give me somebody who wants to paint any day. I couldn’t ask for anything more. So to have 13-14 people who all want to paint – blank paper, choose their inspiration and they just start it. We could have gone two hours easy. They got used to the routine. They’re all business when they are here – it’s all about painting!”

The Watercolor Painting Class Photo

The Watercolor Painting Class and COA ReConnect Staff

For more information about attending an art class or for Socialization Services, contact Jena Reeder or (714)352-8820 Ext 209.

-David Spear
Data Management and Communications