Thursday, March 8, 2018

Pour Painting Made Easier

We did Pour Paint Art at the Stroke Recovery Art Group last month. I wrote about how much fun it was with Girl Guide Leaders and I wanted to be able to do it with other groups.
I tried it out a couple of times to figure out how to make it a little easier for our groups.

  • 6 - 8 cups per participant (disposable cups are okay but should be more solid and not squish too easily)
  • tarps, plastic or other types of sheets to protect the table and the floor.
  • I made sure everyone had an old shirt or apron on.
  • We used disposable gloves with Girl Guides and it certainly kept our hands clean but they do interfere with sensation and hand control which I thought was a good idea with my participants. 
  • a large tray for each participant would be desirable and cut down on the potential mess.
    a bowl or dish that would fit under the canvas to keep the canvas from touching the table and to pour paint into.
  • canvas ...the kind with a frame and not the flat kind would be a bit easier.
  • acrylic paint ... as many choices of colour as possible, but at least the 6 or 8 colours.
  • stir sticks or spoons. I used coffee stir sticks. Taller than the cups you have so you can stir the paint.
  • a pitcher or some cups of water.
  • a paint flow medium like Flotrol... This is available at craft stores but cheaper in the paint section of your hardware store. I think this really helps but if using chemicals is a problem just leave it out. It helps the paint spread smoothly and slows down dry time.
  • a silicon treadmill lubricant. It is sold in small bottle kind of like eye drops and you would find it sold beside treadmills. I found mine at Canadian Tire.
  • optional would be a final coating when it is dry, Either a clear spray finish or mod podge. It makes it shinier. 


Start by setting up the table and possibly floor and people with covering to protect from paint. I have not yet had a big mess but the potential is there for anyone.
Set up a spot for each participant but don't overcrowd participants.

Set up 6 to 8 cups per person. Into each cup put just enough of the flow medium to cover the bottom. Into this have the participant choose a colour of paint and then pour in some paint. The amount can be variable from cup to cup.

Mix the paint and the flow medium with a stir stick. You want the paint to be about the same consistency as whipped cream before it gets whipped. It should pour in a smooth stream but not seem watery. If it seems too thick just add a tiny bit of water at a time.

Each cup should have a few drops of the silicon lubricant added to it. Give the cups another little stir.
Now we are almost ready to pour! Put the canvas on top of the bowl so that it sits level. The bowl should fit inside the frame and the fabric part of the canvas should rest on it.

We are Ready!

The participant can then pick a colour of paint and pour a little or a lot onto the canvas. Then add another colour and another, maybe go back to previous colours. You would expect the paint to be flowing around a bit.

The participant should pick up the canvas by the edges and tilt it from side to side to try and get the paint to run in such a way to cover all of the surfaces. This gets very exciting! Try and tip the paint into the bowl because there can be quite a lot of it to just wind up on the table. If there are a few spots that are missed on the canvas you can do a little touch with the stir stick or a fingertip. The paint should pour over the edges and get the sides of the canvas covered as well.
When done set the canvas back over the bowl so it can drip off and not pool underneath and stick the picture to the table!
These come out very different than we expected. The colours, thickness of the paint, the speed they are poured, angles tilted and so many other things add extra surprises and excitement to the picture.
Experimentation is fun!  I don't think there is a wrong way to do this.
I had one person who began to finger paint and loved it. Another kept tapping it on its side and then started drawing the back of a pencil through the think paint and making impressions. Two people wanted me to go get the glitter to put on a top sprinkle on their pictures!
 If they have extra paint left in their cups that is okay. They can do another painting or people can pool their leftover bits of paint and make one together.

This project uses a lot of paint and winds up with quite a thick layer of paint so it takes a couple days to dry completely and to firm up/ cure. Have a spot to leave them to dry where you won't need to move them.

One final option is to but a glossy finish to it. When the picture drys the surface will have a little sheen. The glossy coat brings out colours and highlights the shapes in a different way.

One of my ladies did this at home on flat wrapped canvases and did not add the Flowtrol or silicone to her paint and was very happy with her results. It is just exciting to play with the paint so freely.

Have fun and enjoy your artwork.

If something isn't clear or you have any comments or questions please comment below and I will try to answer you.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Massage Therapy Works!

Holly is a lovely young woman who works where I do. I work every second weekend and every other Monday at the personal care home and Holly works the weeks opposite me. Holly has appreciated working part-time and getting experience while going back to school and learning how to be a massage therapist.

It has been a long haul for her working, going to school and studying so much. The training has been very extensive and expectations have been high.  A few months ago Holly graduated. She was enthusiastically welcomed to begin her practice at the same place she had done her student placement. Holly is happy with the balance she now finds working part-time as a Recreation Facilitator while at the same time building her practice as a massage therapist.

Massage therapy is an integral part of my health maintenance and wellness, and I go every few months. 
I first started going to my massage therapist, Lisa over 8 years ago. My head hurt, my ears were ringing, moving was really hard and every inch of me felt beat up. I was improving but my left side still wasn't working like it should, and my balance was truly horrible.

My physiotherapist from the outpatient hospital program suggested that massage therapy might help. I found a massage therapist at the physiotherapy clinic at the end of my street. The first time I went there my daughter came with me because I needed the physical and emotional support. I really was unclear about what the therapist would do with me and even less clear about the chances of this doing me any good.  I found that she was a lovely woman with a great smile and a reassuring style. The room was private with nice lighting and a few decor touches and a wall that was mostly mirror. She talked to me about my history and what it was I wanted to achieve through massage therapy. She left me to get undressed (with the help of my daughter) and to lie down on the massage table and I covered myself with a sheet. She came back after a few minutes, lowered the light a bit and set her computer to quietly play light music. She began a gentle conversation and she started gradually massaging one body part at a time. I really did start to relax which is not easy when your body is having muscle spasms all the time.  I felt a little better. I also felt exhausted partly because of the stress of walking into the unknown and partly because I just got super tired very easily.

I was encouraged enough to go back. I found that my neck and shoulder really began to respond to the treatment.  Within a month I found a reduction in the headaches and going with that was some relief from the dizziness.

Arm and leg problems after a brain injury or stroke are kind of the obvious signs of disability. I was given lots of exercises to help my arm and leg and to improve everyday living tasks like sitting and standing and walking. Fine movements in the fingers of my hand got a tiny bit of work. I remember picking up fake fruit and vegetables.  I was upset with the lack of interest by the professionals in getting my non-dominant left hand working again. I wanted to do so many things that required both hands!
My left side issues included the muscles in my neck and head. The speech therapist gave me exercises to improve my tongue and lips but nothing much was done with the left side of my neck, face or scalp until I started with the massage therapy. I am not saying that the spasms in my neck and face were the sole reasons for my head pain and balance issues but the massage helped bring down some of the pain issues and allowed me to relax and focus more on recovery.
Currently, I am having issues related to arthritis and Lisa has been able to give me some relief. Lisa is not taking new clients but if you are in Winnipeg I would be happy to put you in touch with Holly!

Please look at this link for more information about locations of other Manitoba clinics, FAQ, and details about the profession of Massage Therapy.

Photo credit to Unsplash

Sunday, March 4, 2018

101 Year Old and Children Chat

I loved viewing this video.

First I loved the sincerity and honesty of Alice, and of the children. A few people have asked me if I want to live to 100 now that I have worked in a personal care home. My answer is it depends. Alice is my new role model for ageing well.

I think the best part of this video is when Alice makes some comment about ageing and the little boy answers “You’re really old, but you are really good at it.”

Friday, February 23, 2018

Gearing up for Change

I find change hard. I always have. I usually can talk myself into believing it is for the best and there are new adventures around the corner but it is not easy.
I am a bit of a "hanger on" person. I hang on to my habits, I like my routine. I still have a lot of my old childhood treasures. I keep a lot of resource materials like about 20 years of Guider Magazine and files of cooking articles, and how to do web design because I might come back to it someday. I treasure my friends too and believe I am a loyal friend.

The last time my life was totally turned upside down it was a sudden change. In a 2 day period, I was worried for my life and in a week I was thinking my life was not worth living. But it got better, I got back to much of my life from before but never again would I see my world in quite the same way. I lost friends, I lost some dreams of what I wanted to do with my life. I lost a ton of confidence in myself and what I could aspire to do and was devastated by my inability to be the wife and mother I used to be.

When it happened I was weeks away from a large Girl Guide camp where I was one of the key planning people. From my hospital bed, I was trying to use my confused and traumatized brain to think of where the plans and papers were so that it could be handed on to someone else to complete and trying to remember all that I had left undone.

Change, this time, has not been sudden. It has been insidious.  My right knee had been sore 10 years ago and was a problem when doing rehab for the brain injury but did not really mess with my everyday world. Walking with a bad gait due to a weak left side has resulted in a  lot of wear and tear on my "good" side and I have been having increasing problems with knees and back and hips. It has been a slow decline.  Two years ago I had a fall at work and hurt my lower back and hip quite badly. I healed from the fall but the arthritis in my right hip rapidly became very severe.

The past two years have been difficult. Creams, pain medications, cortisone shots and physiotherapy have helped but not been enough to control the pain or let me do all that I want and need to do.

I was placed on a waitlist for a hip replacement and I will be having surgery in a few months. There is a lot to do to get ready for this surgery. I have had several education sessions that are mandatory, I have to see a dietician, occupational therapist and a physiotherapist. I need to make some changes to our house and maybe even our vehicle. I have to have any dental work done ahead of time. I needed an EKG and blood work plus a pre-op physical with my family doctor. I have informed my work supervisor that I will need an extended sick leave.

I really need to step up my game and get exercising to make my muscles as strong as possible. Any weight I can lose will be a help so I am trying to diet. None of this is easy.

This time I am getting ready for the Change.  This time I am getting my ducks in order ahead of time. I have stepped down from most of my volunteer obligations and handed the reigns to others. Someone else is already in charge of the big, upcoming Girl Guide events and camps. It makes me sad. I have loved my time with the art group, youth program and seniors programs I have been involved with as a volunteer.

I hate letting go of my current life but I have to trust that this time Change is going to lead to a life with less pain, more mobility, better health and that there are some wonderful new adventures to come.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Hot Chocolate 101

My daughter Alicia is going to Guest Blog for me today.

I work at a day program for adults with cognitive and physical disabilities.

Today the lady I was supporting hosted a Valentine Party for a bunch of her friends and wanted to give them Hot Chocolate because chocolate and Valentines go together. She wanted to give them something to drink.  This a drink we had figured out a recipe for around Christmas time. She had wanted to figure out an alternative to coffee for a diabetic friend.  They both said they had not had hot chocolate for many years.

  We put all of our ingredients into a large cooking pot. We used  one and a third cup of instant skim milk powder or enough to make up a liter of milk. We used a third cup of cocoa and half a cup of Splenda.  We stirred up all the dry ingredients, poured in the 5 cups of water, stirred it thoroughly again and put the pot on the stove on low so it could slowly heat up and be ready for when her friends arrived.

People were so excited to have the drink. Her guests and my coworkers told her how much they loved it and commented on how good it smelled in the house! They even asked her for her recipe. We wrote the recipe out for a few of them and titled it Hot Chocolate 101 so that is where the name comes from.

My coworkers had a cup and then wanted seconds. They were used to drinking powdered hot chocolate mix and most had never tried hot chocolate made from scratch before. They commented on how different it tasted. For a lot of the disabled individuals it had been a long time since they had hot chocolate of any kind. This was a really nice recipe because it allows us to control the sodium, sugar and fat content making it accessible for different diets including heart friendly and diabetic diets and so allowed everyone to share in the treat.

Hot Chocolate 101

1  1/3 cup Skim Milk Powder
1/3 cup     Cocoa 
1/2 cup     Splenda 
5 cups      Water.

  1. Place dry ingredients into a large pot.
  2. Mix ingredients with a large spoon
  3. add water and stir again.
  4. put on a low heat on a stovetop and stir occasionally.
  5. Serve using a ladle.
  6. Enjoy!
Serves about 6 

Note  from Linda:
I think I will test this out with a slow cooker next week and then try it out at work. I am always looking for a nice treat that people on special diets can share.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Art - Pour Painting with Girl Guide Friends

My Painting.
My local Area for Girl Guides of Canada  had a "Pour Paint" evening for adult members.

What a fun night! One of our members, Janet, figured it out by watching videos on line and then experimenting and figured it out! She was kind enough to organize this evening and share this skill with us. We had about 21 people get together and we followed directions and it was amazing to see the results. It was more fun to do than I expected, and most certainly more exciting too. I was also surprised how much harder it was to control the color and outcome of the picture but still they all looked amazing. It was also a lot tidier than I expected. The tables and floors were covered with plastic and tarps on the floor, and we were all warned to wear clothes we didn't want paint on. Sure the tables had a lot of drips on them but no major spills and there didn't seem to be any paint on the floor.

I want to try it again, and I will take pictures of the process, but that can wait for better weather when I will try it outside. I was originally hoping this would be something I could do at work or with my Stroke Recovery Art group but I really think I will need to experiment and see what modifications I can make in the procedure to see if this would be a possibility. The cost would be kind of high for a small group too. Janet estimated that the cost was about $10 a person for our bigger group. Maybe it will work with smaller canvasses and fewer colors of paint.

Basically what we did was choose about 6 or more colors of acrylic paint and these were each added to individual cups along with a thin layer of a paint flow liquid.  If needed we added drops of water so it was thin enough to pour in a stream off of the popsicle stick mixing stick. It should not be dipping in globs nor should it be very runny.

Next we put  a bit of one of the paints into a bigger disposable cup and added a couple of drops of silicone type lubricant. Janet recommended little bottles of this stuff called treadmill oil that is usually sold near treadmills.  Just keep layering until the cup is full.

Next we inverted out canvas over the glass of paint and holding on tight flipped them. Full upside down glass on top of the canvas. You slide it around for a second and then lift the cup! TADA. Tilt the canvas around and let the paint roll around to develop the pattern and colors and be sure to get to all sides and let it pour off the edges.

Rest your painting on a paper plate to lift it off of the table and give it at least an hour to set up before you try and move it, but it will probably take over a day to set because the paint is extremely thick.

The acrylic paint dries as a flat color and it really looks best with a clear gloss spray coating or clear paint on sealant.

Below are a couple pictures of other participants work. Aren't they awesome?

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