I'm laying on the couch right now watching the new Picasso -- My Mom -- at work. She's pioneering a new blending technique, using big sweeping motions on a canvas to create just the right affect for her latest creation. From a distance she looks masterful by any one's account. Up close you'll find the technique involves a 4-year-old's coloring book, Crayola Crayons and an old fashioned rectangle pink eraser. Probably like any artist's discovery, the method began as she tried to fix a mistake on the page, then she realized she might be on to something creative. She's been finessing the skill for days.
I think back to six months ago when coloring was still considered childish by My Mom. I'm not certain of what brought the change of attitude (maybe she felt left out when one of her caregivers and I decided we'd have fun with the coloring books if she didn't...). Whatever the breakthrough, she's cleared past any misgivings over the activity and launched quite passionately into this new hobby. Complete with attitude. I had to include a photo of the artist at work -- just look at the pose. You'd think she grew up in some Bohemian commune, not a strict Scottish-Catholic family in Detroit. I love the one leg up and one leg down stance. And, yes, those are the infamous slippers adorning Mom-Mozart's feet. She attacks the work with full gusto too, working the crayon across the page with precision -- a steady back and forth motion to cover large areas, small deliberate strokes for edging. Technique nothing shy of impressive.
I would include reproductions of some of her "works", but sadly, that would be demeaning. She's definitely creating brilliant images in her own mind, but not yet on paper. Having said that, her progress is honestly extraordinary.
I bought the coloring books after reading an article that said studies show creative hobbies help Alzheimer's patients. They featured a man that despite a failing mind, still remained phenomenal at photography and a woman who could no longer speak, but could still paint. The subjects in the story were artsy in their past. My Mom, I'm pretty sure, like me, couldn't draw a straight line, meaning even stick figures were out of our reach.
I still thought at the very least maybe there'd be something soothing about coloring and quite frankly I had to find something to divert her from continuously reading junk mail. I never thought she'd take to coloring like a duck to water and I never thought she'd actually improve once she started.
But, improve she has. Quite a bit actually. Her advancements may only be from erratically coloring the entire page green with no relation to the pictures, to staying in the lines, using multiple colors and concocting this crazy new breed of blending crayon strokes, but how cool to see her actually excel at something at this stage of her life instead of always mentally and physically declining. Sure, the artwork may only be brilliant in her own mind, but seeing my Mom progress at anything at these days makes every page feel like a masterpiece.