Aging Well: A passion for painting

Research has shown that engaging in creative activities offers many health benefits, whether painting on your own or with others in an environment like The Mather’s Open Art Studios.

This biweekly column is sponsored by The Mather in Tysons, Virginia, a forward-thinking Life Plan Community for those 62 and better.

Whether you’re a long-time artist or find yourself sitting in front of an easel for the first time, pursuing a creative endeavor can benefit your health.

Research has shown that creative activities (and the pleasure they bring) can reduce artists’ stress and anxiety, increase self-confidence, and boost overall well-being –as well as keep the brain “fit” and stem the onset of dementia.

“Exercising your creativity is an integral part of Aging Well — that’s why we incorporate creative exploration and the arts in so many aspects of our senior living communities,” says Caroline Edasis, director of community engagement for Mather. Mather is the organization that’s bringing The Mather, a forward-thinking Life Plan Community for those 62 and better, coming to Tysons, Virginia, in 2024.

This bodes well for future residents of The Mather like Renée Alberts. A lifelong artist whose work has been shown in many juried shows and won multiple awards, Renée is an active member of the McLean Art Society. Her watercolor paintings can be seen in the society’s art exhibits at various locations, including area recreational centers, and in Walker Chapel United Methodist Church when the Art Society schedules exhibits.

Renée says that, today, she is not only retired from her career as a therapist, but also recently “fully retired” from volunteer work, and spends a lot of time painting. While she has tried different media, she is drawn to watercolors because “one is rewarded by the sense of immediacy and freshness and the vivacity of color.” She adds, “With some people, it’s a compulsion. If I see something that stirs emotions, I have to paint it.”

Born in New York City, where she attended the New York High School of Music and Art — the Fame school — and having lived in New England and Europe, Renee settled in Virginia, where she plans to stay. She looks forward to moving into an apartment home in The Mather next year. “For me, the important thing about The Mather is the location,” she says. “It’s convenient to so many things that are important to continuing one’s life — shopping, restaurants, the Metro — and it’s easy to get into town.”

The Mather will offer residents ample opportunities to engage with art and creativity on-site, including Open Art Studios, which are welcoming group settings where participants can work in diverse media alongside their peers. Mather’s signature approach to art appreciation mirrors how contemporary museum practices are evolving. Rather than teaching with lectures from an expert such as a docent, it focuses on inclusive, inquiry-based art-viewing techniques. The Mather has already formed relationships with local arts organizations, and plans to offer inquiry-based art experiences for residents on-site as well as in museums, theaters, galleries, and beyond.

The Mather in Tysons, VA, for those 62 and better, is a forward-thinking Life Plan Community that defies expectations of what senior living is supposed to be. It opens in 2024.