By MARGARET BLOHM
For the Times-Herald
DEARBORN – Each Wednesday and Friday afternoon, people passing by the craft room at Beaumont Commons, Dearborn will quickly notice several residents in quiet concentration as each paints a unique canvas.
Beaumont Commons Senior Director Linda Nickerson introduced a new activity to residents in January: painting by number.
“I spent a year researching painting activities and sources we could use to help our residents more easily manage the long winter months that sometimes cause depression,” Nickerson said. “With the winters here in southeast Michigan, really anyone can benefit from doing something creative and fun like this.”
Resident Jan Butterworth said that her intricate painting of the Eiffel Tower with flowers in the foreground still looks like “blobs” to her. But she said that doesn’t worry her because the painting sessions have helped her get to know her neighbors.
As the hour-long painting sessions end, the quiet concentration turns to friendly conversation among resident artists, accompanied by glasses of wine and mutual appreciation of their “masterpieces.”
“Linda and her assistant Judy (Antinossi) are so helpful,” said Butterworth, who moved to the Dearborn community from Florida during the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than a dozen residents signed up and selected a canvas to paint. Desta Pulter is working on her own paint-by-numbers canvas of a lighthouse that she had stored in her apartment closet when she moved to the campus two years ago. Painting in the company of neighbors motivated her to join.
“It’s just too hard to let go of something that I haven’t finished,” she said.
In addition to providing paint supplies and paint-by-number canvases, Nickerson recognized some residents would have difficulty reading the numbers that indicate which colors to use.
“The numbers are pretty small to read, so we also stenciled designs on some blank canvases for those who want to pick their own colors,” she said.
One of the first participants to finish her painting was Vera Strahl. She selected a horse, explaining that she grew up with animals on a farm in southeast Ohio. Not wanting to wait for the twice weekly class, she took the canvas back to her apartment to finish.
“The picture’s background was kind of boring, but it came to life when I started painting the horse.”
Resident Barbara Kubicek picked three smaller stenciled canvases to paint.
“I call it therapy work,” she said. “It takes your mind off what’s going on in the outside world.”
While working on her waterscape painting, resident Jean Hunt said she appreciates Nickerson arranging the creative outlet for residents.
“Linda deserves a star,” she said.
Nickerson said several people have already asked about new canvases.
“We’ll do this again next winter – even bigger and better – with everything we’ve learned,” she said.