What is your primary artistic medium?
In the atelier of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, I was trained in oils to acquire “old master” techniques. I transferred those oil skills to acrylics for a more suitable product and to satisfy deadlines. Depending on the project, some of my work resembles the 13th-17th century art while some looks more expressive and abstract—all using the same medium, acrylic paint. It is as versatile as the artist using it and it is my favorite paint for murals and paintings. When I draw I like to use pencils, colored pencils and pastels.
How did you get started as a teaching artist?
I gave lectures, demos, and presentations at various locations and joined Toastmasters to improve my speaking skills. I spoke at organizational meetings such as the Society of American Registered Architects (SARA), The National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) and Rotary; and taught at the International Art Materials Association (NAMTA), The Athenaeum School of the Arts, The Oceanside Museum of Art, San Diego Botanic Gardens, OSHER Lifelong Learning, and charter schools. I also gave private lessons for both adults and children, and continue to do so.
How does teaching inform your own artistic process?
The warmth, creativity, and appreciation from the students inspires me.
Why do you think working with older adults is important?
Many older adults do not always realize their potential and art is a fun vehicle for this. They are empowered with increased self-esteem and they seem to realize the inherent benefits after participating. There is a great deal of encouragement among the older art students to urge each other to continue and to mentor each other during classes—it is a wonderful social experience.
What has been the biggest surprise in working with older adult learners?
Their fun attitude and sense of humor is a delight to behold— they are always full of surprises.
What skills are most important when working with older adults?
Patience and good communication skills. One needs to be able to ascertain where each person is at in their creative process. Teachers need to compassionately repeat directions several times especially for those who have hearing problems or who do not listen attentively.
What advice would you give someone that wants to do this work?
Be well-prepared for each lesson. Respond to each student’s needs with compassion.
Tell us a short story from one of your classes that demonstrates the benefits of Creative Aging for participants.
A woman who had a massive stroke took art lessons from me for several months. When the lessons were over, I received a phone call from her daughter telling me that her mother’s speaking skills were “stunningly different” from taking the art lessons. This was observed by the daughter, the woman herself, and the doctor. As soon as she had stopped the lessons they noticed a decline and she resumed the classes. She was not particularly happy with the primitive art she produced (self-critical beginner), but she wanted the benefits. The daughter also told friends to call her mother after the art lessons because her communication skills were better then. I describe this and other benefits in my twenty minute talk “A Lifetime of Art: Unforeseen Lessons Learned” which is on my website.
What are your current and upcoming projects of both your own work and teaching assignments?
From January 20-30, 2017, I will lead creativity sessions during a Costa Rica tour with mindfulness and creativity (for artists and non-artists). There may be room in the tour for a few last minute registrants!
When I return to Southern California from Costa Rica, I shall continue teaching at several venues with private and group lessons, and many will be outdoors (“en plein air”). We will be drawing and painting at local lagoons with ocean views, historic parks and gardens. All media is welcome.
My current commissions: A lively pet portrait, a scenic mural to be painted directly on the wall, and several portable murals for musicians who host concerts in their home. Plus, I will be coaching a client who wishes to paint her own home mural.
I plan to start online coaching for those who are not local to my area and for those who prefer to expand their creativity and learn skills from home. Individual needs are the focus: to learn the positive attributes of your work, how to expand upon those, and to receive tips to improve the impact and aesthetics of your work. New classes and coaching opportunities will be posted mid-February.
Thank you Linda for your wonderful work with Lifetime Arts.
Check back each month where we will feature a new Teaching Artist who has excelled in their work with the Creative Aging process.