Artist in Residence
Self-Portraits - April 2014 Print E-mail
Services - Artist in Residence

This first activity covered self awareness, an appreciation of who we all are, as unique individuals. We discussed facial features. Each client pointing out the differences between their own features and their neighbors. We studied the different shapes of our own eyes, nose and mouth. plus sizes and spaces between each feature was discussed.

We also covered a little art history by discussing examples of famous artists self—portraits showing a few examples of works with pen and ink, oils and oil pastels.

This project gave me the opportunity to examine the talents and abilities of each client. This will help meta develop projects for the future.


  • Table easel —l 8x24 inch with paper slipped under thick paper frame to create a clean boarder.
  • Mirror (with stand)— to easily find facial features
  • Self—adhesive dot — an easy way to find eyes first
  • Charcoal pencil — (a bit messy, used oil pastels in place of charcoal pencil)


  • Set up table easels with white paper slid underneath heavy paper frame to keep boarder clean.
  • Handed out oil pastels and examples of self—portraits by famous artists.
  • Setup mirrors so each client could study their faces.
  • A self—adhesive dot was placed in the spot on the paper where the eyes were.
  • Each client traced around each dot and dots were removed.
  • Eyes were drawn into the eye area.
  • Lines were drawn down from the corners of the eyes to where the nostrils shapes were formed.
  • Lips were drawn just under the nose
  • A chin was added which gave the line for the sides of the face. Hair and ears were then added.
  • clients were encouraged to color in areas to give their work more depth.
  • Backgrounds were added up to the tape line that held the matte frame in place.
  • Each frame was lifted up and the finished artwork was pulled away from underneath the frame revealing a nice clean boarder.
  • Clients were encouraged to display their self-portraits. Topics if discussion included: Emotions and how faces change with each.Hair styles and how they frame the face. Eye color and how many have blue or brown.


  • To explore non—verbal expression/communication.
  • To produce the client's own visual representation of themselves.
  • To involve clients in positive group experience.To provide an opportunity for the client to focus his or her visual awareness, to isolate ports from wholes, and recreate new wholes from ports.
  • To explore self identify in a safe environment.
  • To involve the clients in a task—oriented process involving decision making, following directions,planning layout for face, completing the work.
  • To develop trust and willingness to relate.


The self—portrait project could be used with most population.

I found this project highly successful for this group of clients with disabilities. All responded very positively to process. Finding the eyes first and working down
from there seemed to create a sense of confidence.

Most participants produced a fairly realistic work. Clients seemed to be very proud of their work. Ithink this activity is a great self-esteem builder.

Introduction Print E-mail
Services - Artist in Residence

By Linda Johnson.

Each month a new project is designed, to first and foremost, bring out a smile! Smiles are the very best therapy. Secondly, to come up with an idea that seems like magic. Usually, that in itself, will bring out a smile. There is nothing that creates new neural pathways better than curiosity.

My challenge is to take an idea, that interest me, then transform it into a simple activity. I try to incorporate an intellectual element into the activity usually, in it’s design. Also a fun artistic element to bring out each client’s creative side.

I devote quite a bit of time and thought to the activity’s development. I walk through every aspect of the hour long project analyzing any stumbling blocks I may find along the way. I rethink that particular steps and iron out any obstacles.

I want each client to move freely, through the activity. There will always be areas where clients will need help so I try to make sure I can be by their side if these occasions arise.

Each activity starts with an enthusiastic hello and a big smile. The first few minutes of the hour is devoted to a simple discussion about the particular topic. If, for instance, the activity is felting, we would discuss how sheep are sheared, how the wool is prepared and dyed. How agitation locks the fibers together and any new vocabulary, like felting!

I try to come up with the most thought provoking activity I can. I want each client to feel that I value their intelligence and really appreciate any time and attention they spent sharing the activity I have prepared for the group. That said; I want to introduce them to good quality materials, when ever possible. Quality materials usually produce quality results. That make for a happy, satisfied client and a very happy resident artist!

When designing each project, I try to keep in mind the abilities of the groups. I try to find the project challenging enough to keep their interest, yet not to the point of the client becoming discouraged. I do ant the clients to feel like it was their creation . This is a challenge with such a variety of disabilities. Each center has between 2 and 16 clients at any given time so I have to be prepared to accommodate as many as would like to join in the activity.

In researching programs for the disabled, I am confused as to exactly why, where and when art therapy finds it’s way into a program. It seems vocational graining centers for the developmental disabled have little or no art programs. Do the clients have to fit a certain criteria before art programs are introduced? Art therapy varies from facility to facility. I found some programs introduce theater and dance but no visual art. Where visual arts are introduced, it seems to be geared towards process. Connecting emotion with material. There seems to be a gap between using no art therapy for vocational purposes and art therapy as a tool for helping with mental disorders

If art therapy worlds, why is it lacking so in the overall programs for the disabled.

My concerns are with product and marketing the work. I worked with a local vocational training center years ago helping the clients set up a screen printing area. It never dawned on me that it felt like an ‘institution’. I found only positive enthusiasm about their facility and a drive to turn out great prints.

In working with the clients, I do have ‘salable art’ in the back of my about. The challenge is in coming up with a desirable object, present it in a fashion suitable for marketing i.e. framing, etc. then finding a venue for selling it.

I realized funding is an issue. I feel that if I could ever get the product and venue established, the work would sell itself. Having a location that we can promote as a ‘go to’ for a hand made gifts and an easy way to support the disabled, would be so great.

I don’t expect every activity to produce a salable work of art. I have come to realized some clients are very possessive and others can’t wait to gift it over.

I will find a comfortable balance between the two somehow. All activities don’t have to be product related, some months I want the clients to just have fun. Just the sheer joy of doing it!


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