What is your primary artistic medium?
Watercolor, though I started in oils.
How did you get started as a teaching artist?
I was asked to fill in at a class. After winning awards, area art galleries asked if I would like to teach classes. I taught an art class to Alzheimer patients, stressing the abstract, with great success.
How does teaching inform your own artistic process?
I think it’s necessary to stretch and reinvent your style to stay current and interesting.
Why do you think working with older adults is important?
Art is therapeutic, inclusive, healing, connecting and expanding for people of all ages.
What led you to working in Creative Aging?
Gallery staff gave me the information to apply for the position, since I had already taught senior groups at nursing homes.
What has been the biggest surprise in working with older adult learners?
Seeing them realize how creative they can be, and watching friendships develop and grow.
What skills are most important when working with older adults?
Patience and a positive attitude are crucial, as well as being continually supportive of every effort.
What advice would you give someone that wants to do this work?
Shadow another teaching artist at a facility, and ask what help will be available in any classes that you teach.
What have been your biggest challenges? How do you respond?
Any negativity has to be squelched with a positive response because attitude, good or bad is catchy. I do my best to keep a positive approach.
What are your current and upcoming projects of both your own work and teaching assignments?
I teach in a number of suburbs throughout northeast Ohio and an assisted living facility. I have a number of workshops planned as well as art shows throughout the summer. My web site is berniescolors.squarespace.com, which displays a number of my works.
Thank you Bernie 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.