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Nov 27, 2015

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Notes Along the Way   

October 2015


Creativity and Fitness Can Improve Your Brain

Over the years, I have taught art to students at every age level from pre-school to older adults. I love witnessing their creativity and excitement over their accomplishments. I especially like seeing the joy that art brings into their lives.

For older people, creativity provides a goal, a reason to get up in the morning and go out to an art class or head to an easel or art wall inside their own homes. The creative activity can take the form of painting, sculpture, pottery, jewelry and more. Crocheting and knitting are art-crafting endeavors enjoyed by people of all ages, especially older ones. Some studies show that crafting provides a large benefit but not quite as much as painting.

My mother loved to crochet. She would sit for hours crocheting colorful pieces that she later put together in afghans to give as gifts. Although she did not grow up in a time when physical fitness was stressed as it now is, she kept her brain healthy with the bright strands of yarn dancing on her needle.

A recent article by Leslie Mann, Tribune Newspapers, describes studies that show the value of doing artwork for people in "their middle and old ages". One Mayo Clinic study found that those who created art during those later years were "73 percent less likely to develop MCI (Mild Cognitive Impairment)". (MCI is a problem that can lead to dementia.)

Because people are living longer, the 85-plus age is a fast-growing population segment. It's a group of people who can be inspired because of creative potential or they can be led into depression by those who do not understand their needs for purpose in life.

Like Georgia workshop, GAMi in March

If people are encouraged to take more art classes and more art workshops, I believe they will be happier. They will have less reason for depression. They will need fewer drugs.


My Upcoming Artist Workshops


"Painting Like Georgia O'Keeffe – October 10, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. – Williamsburg Center for Contemporary Art, 219 North Boundary Street - Williamsburg, VA – (757) 229-4949


"Painting with Texture and Design" – October 29 and 30 – 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. – Mathews Bay School Community Arts Center - 279 Main St, Mathews, VA 23109 (804) 725-1278













Notes Along the Way

 August 2015



Ward Center for Contemporary Art

Open House, Friday August 14, 6 to 9 p.m.

"Passenger to Paradise" exhibition by Mary Montague Sikes


Ward 300Ward opening 300

Two large seascapes in this show were created from photographs taken by the artist as a hurricane approached a beach in the Bahamas. Other works developed from pictures captured in Jamaica, Antigua, Trinidad, Barbados, and Hawaii. "Dunn's River Falls" features the water cascading over falls rocks during visits to Jamaica. An earlier painting created of the falls became part of a collection of art purchased by the Marriott Hotel in downtown Richmond when it first opened. Waterfalls in Kauai are the subject of a smaller painting in the show.

 Ward mm



Please check with me at monti7olen@verizon.net for information about upcoming workshops I'm teaching in September. I have a three-day workshop, "Painting Like Georgia", at the Art Academy of Hilton Head Island SC. I also have a three-day workshop, "Painting with Texture and Design", in Hilton Head.


Farrah's Art Show at Arts Alive in West Point


Farrah Ferand, the heroine of my new novel, Evening of the Dragonfly, has come alive in an unusual way. The book character has a series of original paintings in an invitational art exhibition at Arts Alive, opening on September 15.

Among the works is a painting called "Moonshine" relating to tales her mother and her grandfather told Farrah about relatives making and selling moonshine in the back woods of western Virginia. Several paintings in the show evolved from Farrah's dreams that are featured in the novel. "Farrah's Dream" is a painting about one of those dreams.

When Farrah sees a dragonfly or groups of them, she feels optimism. Although the pretty flying insects seem connected to the death of her grandfather and then the death of her mother, she believes sighting the dragonflies is like seeing the spirits of her departed loved ones. These symbols are depicted in the painting, "Optimism".

The opening reception will be Saturday, Sept. 19, 6 to 7 p.m. at the W.T. Robinson/Sture G. Olsson Civic Auditorium and Fine Arts Center in West Point.



Evening of the dragonfly

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