New work by some of our ElderSparks clients (click on images to enlarge):

This was a collaboration between van Gogh and J~, a stroke-impaired former food journalist. Working outward from the center portion of Bedroom at Arles, and without seeing the rest of the composition, J~ used oil pastels to complete the painting. A family caregiver who was joining us for the first time assisted. The end result is a hybrid piece that takes off in a new direction and works beautifully on its own. I was so impressed with it, I made a copy for myself.

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This portrait of a stunningly handsome adult male, (i.e., yours truly :), was done by J~, a woman with a life-long passion for art she was in danger of losing due to her deteriorating cognition. Clearly, though, her artistic gifts are intact. At our session, I was particularly struck by her understanding and concentration: she asked that her aide leave the room so there’d be no distraction, positioned the two of us to take advantage of the light, and took breaks so I wouldn’t become uncomfortable while posing. She also offered some helpful drawing tips I can use with my less advanced clients. When I suggested she consider doing portraits of other residents in her care facility, she politely informed me she doesn’t draw any old face — just those that appeal to her sensibility.

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S~ created this free-form quilt, inspired by fiber-artist Rayna Gillman who graciously donated bags full of raw material. I knew that S~ had been a quilter in the past but her younger sister recently filled me in on some details:

“S~ has always been outstanding in the creative arts field. She, like our mom, was able to create and sew just about anything. One day, I will show you the vest she made for me out of old ties: she cut them into interesting geometric shapes and hand-stitched them together to make a vest which is lined and has velvet backing.

“S~ was unable to go to college when she graduated from high school because our family was poor and it was depression time. But she finally got her degree at Goddard College in VT at the ripe old age of 67!

“She then went on to teach classes at a senior center — quilting (her class made gorgeous quilts, one of which is still hanging there) and creative writing, and led a weekly current events discussion. 

“S~ also started a group at a Philadelphia synagogue that made a magnificent quilt entitled ‘Women of the Bible’ which still hangs in the temple today.”

For this piece, S~, who is wheelchair bound with limited manual dexterity, chose the swatches and strips and directed their placement on a 20” x 30” piece of foamboard covered with quilting batting. Its final form will be a photographic print since sewing is not an option given the available resources.

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A ripe pineapple served as a still life for L~, the former art teacher, her aide A~, and myself. It was an interesting experience. A~ and I tried to reproduce the detailed surface texture of the fruit itself and got hopelessly lost in its complexity. L~ resorted to basic diamond shapes which she claimed was the pattern she saw (and which are, of course, the way pineapples are traditionally depicted.) Her pineapple came out looking a lot more appealing than ours did.

In between sessions, A~ continued to develop her newfound talent by drawing from her imagination and memories of Ghana, and taking inspiration from works by the masters:

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Kandinsky’s Blue Horse as completed by A~.

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 La Marguerite de Matisse as drawn by A~.

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Picasso’s Le Visage De La Plaix as drawn by A~.

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