When I saw this Kandinsky inspired color study project is popular among primary school teachers, I couldn’t wait to try it with senior citizens. I had no idea if they’d enjoy it, or think it was too abstract, but they loved it, and everyone had a great time. It was exactly the right level of challenge for a 1-hour workshop with a mixture of seniors with varying abilities and challenges.

I find that the seniors I’m working with are more inclined to participate and seem to be less beset with self-doubt if there is some type of structure, and this activity had a nice, clear concept that was easy for people to engage with. Once they get going, the work can evolve and be open-ended. There’s never a wrong choice!

I used:

  • Acrylic paint in 3 primary colors (magenta/red, blue, yellow)
  • 30 3×3″ mini canvas boards purchased at Michaels with a coupon
  • 1 18x 24″ black canvas (Also from Michaels. I think they were on sale, 2 for $8)
  • Double sided heavy duty carpet tape
  • (smocks, water cups, paper towels, paper plate palettes, medium-sized acrylic brushes)

I provided an example of one canvas already painted, so they could visualize the idea. (I was careful not to make it too perfect!)

I had each painter choose 2 primary colors. Then I asked them to 1. Paint a dot in the middle of the page with one color; 2. Add a circle around that dot in the second color; 3. Mix the two to make a third color; 4. Continue alternating until they had covered the whole canvas.

For some, painting one 3×3″ canvas was enough of a challenge to take the whole hour. Others churned out several, and had fun experimenting with color mixing.

The best part was that I was able to quickly mount their mini canvases on a big black canvas, so they could see that the imperfections and uniquenesses of their individual paintings added to the interest of the overall piece. (Hot glue would have worked to stick the canvases down, but I used some heavy duty carpet tape I happened to have handy.)



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