Fall invites us to indulge in a magnificent palate of deep hued colors. During my lunch break, I took a walk. I brought with me a little basket, a pair of scissors and my camera. My walk was prompted by my desire to find uniquely shaped leaves that might serve my group art activity scheduled for shortly after my break. The Alaskan landscape and its roadside foliage inspired me.
I returned to The Bridge with my basket filled with ferns and leaves. I also clipped a few heads and hollow stems of Queen Anne's Lace that had become gray and brittle with the change in seasons. I knew immediately how I wanted to use them; both the heads and the stems.
About 30 minutes before the activity, I sorted through the hollow stems picking out the ones I thought would work the best. Next I used scissors to trim the tips so as to create "nibs." I also wrapped a piece of tape just below the nib and around the stem to add strength. These stems would be used as styli by the seniors.
In addition to the styli, I kept in the presentation basket several pieces of fern, a few dried heads of local "weeds" and others such finds.
I laid out the red, paper place mats that have now become synonymous with "one of Susan's ideas." I placed a piece of watercolor paper at each setting, along with a tray of watercolor paints. I also put four jars of water on the table. After everyone was seated, I invited them to "paint" with the ferns. Most started right away.
I kept the styli out of sight until they had first used these other materials and relaxed into the art activity. I use the word relax specifically because there was some initial hesitancy by one of the seniors about "painting" with ferns. The statement, "I have never done this before," was repeated a few times and then, after observing others try, she picked up a fern and began to "paint." Her work is below:
Here is a "painting" created by one of the other participating seniors:
When everyone was finished working with these materials, I introduced the styli. Eyebrows were briefly raised, but hands quickly reached for one. I heard one of the seniors say, "I used to use an ink well when I was a kid. This is sorta like that but we are using paint instead of ink."
Everyone was working independently moments after the styli were handed out.
As with other previous activities, I find such enjoyment in seeing how the art work created is unique to each individual participating. Art is so important to all of us, no matter what our age.
The piece below was done with one of the styli by the woman who was initially hesitant about using the ferns and weeds to paint with:
The pieces done today echo a well known Montessori quote that I have altered slightly and made my personal mantra. I removed the word child from the quote so that it reads - "Never underestimate the creative intelligence of an individual with dementia or Alzheimer's disease."