What happens when you put a blank canvas and paints in front of older adults? Art and so much more!

Twenty Bulloch CSI seniors went to Free Spirit Pottery on March 14 and put paintbrush to palette. Each participant received an 8X10 canvas and acrylic paints and had the choice of painting flowers or a coffee mug.

Instructor Sarah Gearhart guided the creative process, and within two hours everyone had completed a wall-worthy work of art.

Bulloch CSI Outreach Coordinator Robbin DeLoach said the seniors got more from the experience than a picture to hang in their homes.

“It was a great confidence-builder for the seniors. All of them are so proud of their paintings. I think many of them found out they had more artistic ability than they ever imagined, “she said. Senior Margaret Cone was a case in point. “I was so excited to go to Free Spirit Pottery. I did something I didn’t realize I would be able to do. I emailed my children a picture of my painting and they said it was awesome,” she said beaming.

Another senior, Betty Lovett, had so much fun she plans to share the experience with her family. “I enjoyed it so much. I always wanted to draw and paint but never had the chance to do it. I loved painting. It’s something I want to do again and again. My sister and I are already planning to take our grandchildren to Free Spirit Pottery,” Lovett shared.

In addition to their paintings, Bulloch CSI seniors will make fused glass sun-catchers and paint decorative ceramic items (dish, bowl or figurine), DeLoach said.

These artistic excursions are being funding by an $800 one-time senior center innovation grant from the Thanks Mom & Dad Fund. Coastal Area on Aging Director Dionne Lovett told Bulloch CSI County Coordinator Alex Smith about the grant and he knew right away how he wanted to utilize the funds at his center.

“A lot of our seniors love to do art projects, and we can’t afford the quality are supplies you find in a studio like Free Spirit Pottery. I had been there with my children and with youth groups, and I knew it would be a good fit for our seniors,” Smith said.

“Usually, volunteers come to the center to do simple arts and crafts projects with the seniors. I saw the grant as an opportunity for us to offer them an artistic experience that was different from business as usual,” he continued.

Smith shared his vision with CSI Development Director Elena Ryals, who completed and submitted the grant application. Both of them saw the grant as a way to realize CSI’s goal of getting senior center participants out of the centers and into their communities to take advantage of available activities.

DeLoach is grateful for the agency’s commitment to a more dynamic senior center experience, because the seniors at Bulloch CSI will accept nothing less.

According to DeLoach, “Our seniors are not content to sit and knit. They want to go and do. They have high expectations of the senior center, and that keeps us on our toes!” Speaking of which, could a ballet class be next?

“We might have a hard time getting our men to go on that outing!” DeLoach responded with a chuckle.

Below: Bulloch seniors show off their completed paintings.