“I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way—things I had no words for.”
- Georgia O’Keeffe
At Tapestry, we are fortunate to welcome residents with varied backgrounds, professions and interests, and many of them are thrilled to share their talents with their fellow residents.
A case in point is Teresa, a Tapestry at Wesbrook Village resident who has been leading art classes for four years.
Teresa, who has painted all her life, is quick to point out the benefits of artistic creation for herself and for others. Following her retirement from a career in social work, she went back to her roots and her degree in Visual Arts and opened an art gallery in Northern Ontario. “To go back to art full time has been wonderful for my mental health and general well-being,” she says.
After moving to Vancouver and to Tapestry six years ago to be closer to her family, Teresa also became a member of the Participant Advisory Committee to the University of British Columbia’s Brain Wellness Program, where she helps to advise on online teaching programs. “Artistic activities promote a productive lifestyle and healthy aging while learning something new,” she says. “Art not only improves brain health, but it also sharpens the memory. And Tapestry’s art group stimulates social interaction,” she adds.
Painting and drawing also help with fine motor skills/hand-eye coordination, stress relief and relaxation, and can boost self-confidence by creating a sense of accomplishment. As an avenue for creative expression, art can lift mood and improve your mental health.
Teresa’s passion for art and for learning has been very much appreciated by other residents and employees at Tapestry. She has been diligently teaching two classes a week, and the students have put on two exhibits a year where residents and visitors can view and even purchase their work.
Each week, Teresa determines a theme for the class, which could be an abstract idea such as water, reflections, speed or wind. She then prepares samples for the class. “It’s been very surprising and rewarding for me to see people in their 80s enjoying abstract art,” Teresa says.
For other classes, students are challenged to emulate the masters while learning about the art movements of the 20th century. But, she says, “I discourage copying, but rather that they learn different styles and create their own version.”
One student whose paintings were on display at a recent exhibit is Ralph, who has lived at Tapestry for five years. “For many years, I have been a lover of paintings and have a modest collection of oil paintings, mostly by Canadian artists,” Ralph says.
Despite his interest in art, Ralph had never painted before participating in Teresa’s classes, but says that it, “reminds me of my career as a surgeon, because it requires concentration and attention to detail. Also, I feel that learning something new as we get older is important,” he adds.
Hilde, who started drawing and painting in Teresa’s classes three years ago, says she loves experimenting with colour. “I always show my work to my family, and when I hear ‘wow’ I feel great pride,” she says. “I have visited many art galleries in the past and always admired artists. I never thought that I could do it myself. Now I frame some of my artwork and give it away as gifts.”
Teresa says her biggest reward from leading the art classes is seeing the progress her Tapestry students have made with their work. “I’ve seen people who have gone from having issues with holding a paintbrush to producing such amazing work. One of the students has hung her work up all over her suite,” she says.
In fact, the art program at Wesbrook Village is so popular and successful, Teresa has been invited to start teaching at the nearby Tapestry at Arbutus Walk location!
At Tapestry, we know that we can all benefit from learning new things our entire lives and that’s why we offer a wide range of programs and activities every day to stimulate you both intellectually and physically.
If you are looking for a vibrant and active retirement living community, please contact us and we would be pleased to host you for a complimentary lunch and a tour.