“Ramsey University”- Classes for Nursing Facility Residents?

At an activities conference a few months ago, my director, a colleague, and I had this weird idea… What if we brought “classes” to the residents of our facility?

Starting July 11th, we began an 8-week experiment, bringing activities in a class-like format to our residents. This first course, we offered Music Appreciation, Visual Art, Creative Writing, and Cooking and Baking. Each of these classes was offered for an hour or two each week, and we waited to see what would come of it.

It. Was. Amazing. And we’re going to keep doing it.

I “taught” Visual Arts- Basics, Techniques, and Application. Residents were very hesitant to join, telling me they “couldn’t paint” or that they “had no artistic ability.” Bologna. Each and every one of them finished the class with a beautiful self-portrait that they could be proud of. (To see the finished paintings, please head over to  the album on my Facebook page— I don’t have written permission to share those photos here UPDATE: per the legal department of our facility, I have had to remove all photos including residents).

Here’s how I ran the class.

  • Week 1: 7/11/16
    • Study a variety of artists’ works and learn about techniques used by each artist. We studied Van Gogh, Vermeer, Andy Warhol, Leonardo DaVinci,  Hokusai, Leonid Afremov, Edvard Munch, Georgia O’Keefe, Frida Kahlo, and many others. I showed them the artwork, read them a brief biography of the artist, and we talked about what we liked and didn’t like about the work.
  • Week 2: 7/18/16
    • Discuss artistic supplies: brushes, paints, canvas, and paper. Discuss colors and how layering affects colors. Discuss the mood and theme of different pieces. I “googled” “color theory” and read through different articles to find tidbits I found relevant.
  • Week 3: 7/25/16
    • Experiment with brushes and paints to become familiar with the mediums and learn the techniques discussed in week one. This week, I gave them primary paints and a brush and let them experiment. Then they had free range of all the acrylic paint colors I had and they experimented some more. I emphasized that this was not about creating, but about learning how the paint feels and how it acts.
  • Week 4: 8/1/16
    • Color Chart. This night, I gave them the main colors of the spectrum (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple) as well as black and white, and box by box, we mixed the paints to see which colors we could make with those on our palettes. This was fun but difficult for a few of them to follow. I think I would leave this part out.
  • Week 5: 8/8/16
    • Begin painting the background and rough forms of our self-portraits. I took a photo of each resident, put it into a computer program to break it down into basic shapes (feel free to email or message me on facebook for specific directions), then I lightly sketch the shapes in pencil, and let them paint. You can see it the small neon photo to the left of this picture how I broke it down the photos in the computer, and you can see the painting that came from those shapes.
  • Week 6: 8/15/16
    • Paint in more sturdy forms, large shadows, eyes, lips, etc. For photos of this step, please see   the album on my Facebook page.
  • Week 7: 8/22/16
    • Begin painting in details.
  • Week 8: 8/29/16
    • Put the finishing touches on your piece, and get it ready for display.

On September 2nd, we held a “commencement” ceremony for all the participants. We had our local ombudsman come and talk about the importance of continuing education throughout your life, then we had each facilitator of each class explain their class and had out “diplomas”. We had refreshments and social time after the ceremony, and so many residents asked what we were going to do next! It was a wonderful experience and I can wait to start a new class in a few weeks– this session we’re starting a program called “GrandPals,” which I’ll post more about some other time! Click below to see the flyer and get a better idea of what the program will be about.





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