Seniors Keep Sharp in Painting Class
Activity Center offers opportunity for seniors to express themselves on canvas
ANCHORAGE - For senior citizens, staying active and socializing are two ways to keep their minds sharp and reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's or dementia.
Members at the Anchorage Senior Activity Center have found a colorful way to mix the two.
It usually takes a shoehorn to squeeze yourself into the art room during Sally Robertson's oil painting class – and a bullhorn to be heard, because these seniors love to laugh.
"We manage to make fun out of it one way or another," said Janet Lyons, who's been taking the class since 2005.
With just a handful of students, instructor Sally Robertson has more time to critique and chat with her students.
"Mostly what we have is people come in here and just want to lose themselves for a little while, have the camaraderie of the people who are in the same boat as them. We 'ooohh’ and ‘aahh' over each other's paintings, and that's what makes it such a grand place."
After four years of teaching, Sally's students are more like friends.
"She said, 'Ed, why don't you quit before you make a mess.’ So I did," laughs Ed Klinkhart.
"Oh I did not," Sally teases back.
Ed is known around the center for his award-winning paintings of flowers, but decided to put the poppies on pause to paint something new.
"Sally the instructor said I better try something else, so here we are," said Ed.
Even after a few days of work on an eagle, Ed's not taking a shine to the earthy scene.
"No, I like flowers better," said Ed as the rest of the class laughed.
It's easy to see Sally's impact on the seniors’ artistic ability, and she's glad they have a place to express themselves.
"It's an outlet. It's better than sitting home and vegetating in a chair and watching TV," said Robertson.
Instead they're in the classroom every Tuesday, brushing up on their skills and having a blast.
Sally teaches oil painting from 1 to 3 p.m. on Tuesdays and pastels from 1 to 3 p.m. on Fridays at the Anchorage Senior Center.