Keeping seniors engaged with art

By Hank Lohmeyer


Keeping seniors engaged with art | Seniors, Art, Eckert, Horizons Care, PACE

Photo by Hank Lohmeyer Artist Charles Morris works on a portrait of his sister, June, during a demonstration last week at Eckert.

Charles Morris of Grand Junction, a Colorado native and an accomplished artist, gave a seminar on his work to other artists in the PACE fine arts program at the Eckert Horizons facility last week.

It was a presentation with a true family flavor as Morris' sister, June, participates in the three-times-weekly art program at PACE, and she served as the model for Morris' demonstration. June had suggested that he might give the demonstration for their art class. Morris also has another sister who lives at Horizons.

And the occasion was "perfect timing" as well, noted Ann Johnson of PACE. That is because February is designated as International Recreational Therapy Month.

"The recreational therapy programs offered by PACE engage seniors in non-traditional ways," Johnson explained. Art, music, bowling, dancing and aquatics are all a part of the program.

She explained there has been a fine arts program at the Eckert campus for three years. Participants meet for the three weekly art sessions under the guidance of an art advisor. Art is also offered to PACE participants at the Montrose campus.

Morris interacted with his audience of other artists and art students during the Eckert seminar. He said that he has been painting for 50 years. His sisters teased him a little bit about disclosing his age to the group of seniors, but they relented and the fact was kept secret, at least through the demonstration.

His students for the day asked questions. At what age did he start painting? He said that he got serious about his painting after he left the Air Force. He had taken some instruction in art night sessions while stationed in Maine.

Why use oil paint? He said he began with acrylics but found the medium to have a characteristic "plastic look." He switched to oils because they give a more life-like look he described as "Juicy, rich."

His students for the day asked about the various nationalities in his family heritage which he and his sisters explained includes, of course, a bit of Dutch.

Morris gave tips on the use of background lighting and took photographs of his model with a smartphone along the way. The portrait he worked on will be completed at his home studio using the photographs for adding detail.

"This one isn't close to being finished," he said. "But, it's a good start." He said he would bring the finished portrait back to Eckert for everyone to see, and to judge, when it is completed.

Morris had examples on display of his excellent and engaging portraits during the demonstration.

According to Johnson of PACE, the program provides an "all-inclusive umbrella of care for seniors." The PACE Senior CommUnity Care program provides "health care and supportive services enabling seniors to remain living in their home whenever possible," according to an information advisory. The program benefits include a number of services including social activities, recreation and therapy, and medical services as well. Seniors age 55 or older may qualify for the program.

PACE is a service of Volunteers of America. PACE operates on its campus in Eckert at the Horizons facility, in Montrose, and has a satellite program in Paonia.