Tag: art

Art and Alzheimer’s

Art and Alzheimer’s

Grandma Painting 2018

Yesterday would have been my grandmother’s 83rd birthday, but sadly Vascular dementia combined with Alzheimer’s caused her final stroke this past August. We celebrated her love for life with her favorite dinner and game, remembering her final months.

The previous 5 months were spent with us, on the “farm” as she called it. We do have chickens and goats, she would “baa at”. We even planted seeds in March, which she eventually tended on the deck in her Garden. We had the one out on the lawn, and she would try and spray water at you. This also included the many PSW’s who trusted her with the shower hose!

Right from the beginning of her stay, the change due to the Alzheimer’s was fast. Every day we tried to keep her mind occupied with activities, walks, outings, planting. I found her drawn to the kid-sized 100 piece puzzles, I had saved. This was interesting since she was never interested in them before. She would try so hard to maneuver the pieces, and stay focused for a long time

One of our first activities was an acrylic painting, I set up paints, canvas, easel  and cushioned rocking chair with a view outside. Since it was still March with lots of snow, I had leaned our old wagon wheel to the side of the driveway earlier. At first she argued as to what she would paint, and I pointed to the wheel. Then I quickly penciled a stick wheel, and she sat right down. Over an hour passed before she grew tired, and never finished that painting but always looked at it. After that I could only encourage her to do some colouring, with crayons, on a Teddy Bear Doodle.

It was quite an experience to live with and see first hand the effects of these diseases that affect not just our minds, but eventually the inability to control your body. There were days with moments of clarity and she would ask why she couldn’t remember things any more. Those times were the hardest times as well, but, the best times for her to look at photos, and anything to jog her memories really.

Her tomatoes ripened just after her stroke, and the roses started blooming. We made lots of tomato dishes and brought the roses inside. They have since bloomed again, just in time for her birthday.

Grandma’s rose 2018

Painting Discovered

Back in April 2004, we chose to open a comic book store in our small but growing town. We decided this on a shoe string budget, that mostly covered the stock and shelving. During our setup, some family members were painting on the window. This was when an old school friend and his daughter happened to walk by and take notice of the painting. Luckily my kids recognized him and called me. Clint and Cherene came to visit often, and so we asked him to paint our sign if we bought him the supplies and thankfully he agreed.

Being a single dad, Clint was always busy. So by November, I came to lend him a hand. It was a great experience to take our design and project it onto the board. After we traced the main design, we sprayed it to keep the pencil from wiping away. Next step was to paint. I thought, no problem it’s like painting a wall. I was wrong.

2005, Acrylic Paint

2004, Acrylic Paint

Clint showed me how to mix the paint to match the colour in our design. I had never mixed paints before and I wasn’t sure what or how much of each colour to use. It only took us a couple of days using just acrylic paint and it was exciting bringing the finished sign to the store to hang up.

I next had the chance to visit Clint in January 2005. He was busy working on a pencil portrait commission. It was so mesmerizing to watch the face appear out of the page. He worked an exact likeness of the photo, the detail he put in was amazing. Inspired, I asked for some paper to just draw something silly.

2005, Pencil Crayon Sketch

2005, Pencil Crayon Sketch

As I was about to attempt colouring with pencil crayons, Clint stopped me and showed me how to use a blender. I was shocked at how he took a 2D picture and made it pop out with such depth. I spent several hours, over days, shading then colouring. Layer over layer of pencil crayon. My first real drawing of a dragon complete. At this point,  Clint agreed he should mentor me.

So I bought my first sketch book and other drawing books to get going. I learned to sketch before drawing on canvas, then painting. I did a castle in oil paints on canvas next.

2005, Oil Painting

2005, Oil Painting

Raring to go, I tried a portrait of the wizard Gandalf. I never got to finish this with Clint, as life forced us to move 400km away.

We still keep in contact and have helped motivate each other over the past 10 years. I am grateful to Clint for mentoring and pushing me to keep trying. Thanks again Clint!