Find a New Hobby in Retirement: How to Start Painting

A senior woman stands outside in a nature setting painting on a easel

How and Why to Start Painting as a Senior

When Gustav Klimt said, “Art is a line drawn around your thoughts,” he beautifully summarized why many seniors benefit from the creative arts in their retirement years. Too many people feel they don’t know “how to paint,” and that keeps them from trying. But regardless of skill, there are many reasons to pick up a brush. Expressing yourself artistically has been proven to:

  • Inspire relaxation
  • Encourage communication
  • Improve memory
  • Give the artist a sense of control
  • Reduce depression and anxiety
  • Increase self-esteem
  • Improve cognition
  • Inspire playfulness and humor
  • Provide sensory stimulation

Creating art can help seniors (or anyone) stay present and mindful, and externalizing emotions helps them understand their feelings and create constructive ways to approach them. The act of creation also allows older adults to develop self-awareness, which often leads to an increased sense of confidence.

At Rolling Green Village, a retirement community in Greenville, SC., we couldn’t be more excited about the opening of our new art studio. It will provide a wonderful space for our residents to reap the benefits of creative pursuits. Many older adults express anxiety around starting a brand-new hobby. The team members at Rolling Green Village retirement community are always here to help, but if you’d like to start painting outside of the art studio, here are some tips for you.

How to Paint: Advice for Beginners

Here’s the best news: There’s no wrong way to begin. You can use any medium with any handy supplies and experience the benefits of art projects for senior citizens. But there are some guiding ideas that might make the painting process easier:

  1. Select your paint. Try watercolors or acrylic paints first. Acrylic is a very forgiving medium. Because it hardens and dries quickly, you can paint over it to easily hide any mistakes. Watercolor is a cost-effect medium, and ready-made paint sets make it quick and easy to start your masterpiece. Both acrylics and watercolors are water-soluble, so brush cleanup only requires soap and water.
  2. Pick up a few supplies. Choosing the right support can start you on the way to success. Watercolor works best on thick watercolor paper, which can get wet without warping. Acrylic paint can be used on canvas, wood or paper. Find the right brushes for the type of paint you’re using and a palette to let you mix colors for added creativity. You might also invest in an easel, or you can find a makeshift way to prop up your painting.
  3. Learn the basics. Knowing the primary colors, secondary colors, and complementary colors can open up many new ideas for your artwork and let you create exactly the shade you want. Choose a focal point in your image, and apply the most color contrast and detail in that area. Place your focal point in the top right, bottom right, top left or bottom left quadrant — not in the middle of the image.
  4. Create a habit. Any amount of artistic expression is great, but you’ll experience the most benefits and open up your mind to more creativity if you establish a regular habit. The simple system for creating a new habit is:
    • Find something that cues you to paint (maybe while you’re drinking coffee)
    • Include something fun about it that makes you crave painting (maybe paint with a friend or play your favorite music while you paint)
    • Design an easy, repeatable system that takes the hassle out of your new practice
    • Experience a reward for the action (this will likely be the beautiful new painting you create or the sense of relaxation you feel when you’re painting).

Our new art studio will let us take care of a lot of the work for you. We’ll keep many supplies on-site, and we’ll offer fascinating art lessons for senior citizens — with instructors who can help guide you and offer insights. We’ll be able to experiment with different mediums and techniques. But whether or not you choose to join us for an art class, we hope you’ll find new ways to explore the creative arts.

If you’d like to learn more about the upcoming expansion at Rolling Green Village, senior living community, and our multidimensional wellness opportunities, let us know on our contact form. We’ll be happy to answer any questions or give you a tour of our beautiful community.