What started as a six-week workshop to test the waters has now turned into an ongoing weekly art class at Qualicum Manor and is expanding into a fourth facility.
Nancy Korman has been teaching art classes for residents at Qualicum Manor and now she will be taking on Eagle Park Health Care Facility in Qualicum Beach this month.
Korman said she initially told Qualicum Manor that she would only start with six classes and see how it goes. She’s been teaching weekly classes for about two months now.
The arts classes are part of a program through the Oceanside Community Arts Council (OCAC) and a grant from the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN). The grant allowed for the OCAC to buy arts supplies for the classes and the residents get to take the classes for free.
Arts classes through the grant started at The Gardens in Qualicum Beach in November and Stanford Place in Parksville in January. Both are run by Rosemary Fontenla with the help of Karen Smith.
Smith said she started helping Fontenla on a whim.
“It’s the best thing I could have done,” Smith said. She added that helping with the classes has been inspiring.
Smith said the classes have been good for the residents because they’re not always able to show how they’re feeling — verbally or physically.
“It’s a good way to get things out through artwork,” Smith said.
Without the program through the OCAC, Korman said residents who had painted before might not have continued their hobby without these classes.
“It’s opening up opportunities for the residents,” Korman said.
Korman said one of the residents at Qualicum Manor had a stroke, but he started attending the classes. She said she knew he had painted before his stroke.
“Before I knew it, he had picked up a brush and was washing it,” said Korman, adding that it was really remarkable.
Korman said the residents still need a little bit of direction when they’re working, but she said it’s quite fascinating how quickly they’re learning.
“They feel more at ease. There’s no expectation,” Korman said of the residents taking classes. “They’re not worried or uptight about painting.”