Did you know that you can virtually connect with other seniors and learn how to paint and draw from the comfort of your own home? You can, thanks to the Art Gallery of Ontario’s Virtual Seniors Social Program. Amica is the lead sponsor of this AGO program that includes art-focused conversation, tutorials and art-making activities, streamed live via the AGO Facebook page and available in online videos. Unique workshops on art, crafts, cooking or music are among the many premium activity programs at Amica connecting seniors over shared interest in creativity and lifelong learning.
Bringing art to Canadian seniors
Amica initially partnered with the AGO to offer residents in-person tours and art-making experiences, and then helped fund a series of free monthly events open to all seniors. During COVID-19, the AGO pivoted to recreate the program online, allowing seniors across the country to join in. Each session consisted of three parts: a discussion about artworks by one or more artists, an art instruction tutorial using drawing and painting techniques inspired by those artists, and then an art-making session. More recently, the program has shifted to a biweekly format, offering 45-minute live art making sessions in real-time. Each live session includes a look at up to 2 artworks followed by an art making activity inspired by the artworks and conversation.
Anyone can participate, regardless of their skill level, and everyone is welcome to share their creations on social media using the hashtag #AGOmakes.
“You don’t have to be an art historian to appreciate and discuss art,” says Melissa Smith, Assistant Curator of Community Programs at the AGO. “We are all equipped to experience visual culture. It’s empowering to let people share their take on a painting and it’s beautiful to hear the multiple perspectives.”
Experience the benefits of art and art-making
Seeing and creating art isn’t just engaging, it’s good for your soul and body.
“The World Health Organization and others have published data about how art can lower stress and pain and improve brain function,” says Smith, who notes that it can also benefit seniors with dementia. “It’s incredibly moving to see a person who may have been nonverbal all day suddenly share a reaction to an artwork.”
“Programs like these let seniors socialize and explore creativity,” adds Ashley Sumler, Manager of Life Enrichment for Amica. "This engagement and connection are more important than ever during a time of physical distancing."
Watch the latest AGO art workshops for seniors
Visit the AGO Virtual Seniors Social page regularly for recordings of previous sessions and to find out about upcoming live events available online or via Facebook Live, and to ensure you’re prepared. Each event description includes a list of art supplies you may need, such as paper, pencils, markers, charcoal pencils, acrylic paint and more. Seeking inspiration? You can also watch or revisit past sessions, archived on the webpage. Previous sessions include:
- Create a work of art that says something about a social issue you care about, inspired by the personal and political works of multimedia artists Wardell Milan and Bonnie Devine
- Discover the art of paper quilling inspired by John William Waterhouse's painting depicting the Lady of Shalott
- Marks and Textures: using geometric shapes and dissected lines inspired by Gerald Gladstone
- Line drawings inspired by Bertram Charles Binning's nautical world
- Painting with tones, based on the artwork of Mary Wrinch
- Drawing a still life with shadows, inspired by The Open Door: Mary Hiester Reid and Helen Galloway McNicoll
- Exploring abstract landscape, featuring the artwork of Wassily Kandinsky and Kazuo Nakamura
- Hard edge style, inspired by the abstract art of Rita Letendre
Whether you like modern art, abstract paintings or landscapes in the style of the Group of Seven, you’ll find an AGO session to your taste. To see our resident artists’ latest paintings and creations, follow Amica on social media.
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