The only thing Doug Connell of Chelsea had ever painted was a house, which he did plenty of as a residential builder in the Ann Arbor area. But recently Doug took up painting with watercolors, part of an Artful Aging grant United Methodist Retirement Communities (UMRC) received from the Aroha Philanthropies to offer a variety of arts classes to its residents. Doug was a natural, and, just last month, one of his paintings won a second place ribbon at the Chelsea Fair.
Doug moved to UMRC’s Kresge Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in 2012 following a stroke. While his stroke robbed him of much of his mobility, it did not steal his interest in trying new things. Doug signed up for all the Artful Aging course offerings at Kresge Center, which also included creative writing and theater. As a former builder, Doug likes to use his hands to create things, so he decided to try watercolors. Doug really enjoyed learning to paint with local artist and instructor, Debra Guidot-Allen. “She is a great teacher,” says Doug. “She watched over us and offered a lot of encouragement to boost our confidence.”
Following the eight-week course, UMRC hosted a culminating art exhibit to showcase all the artwork of Chelsea Retirement Community residents who participated in the watercolors class. Afterward, Doug’s wife, Patricia entered one of Doug’s paintings, a mountain scene, in the Chelsea Fair. She and Doug were excited to learn he had won second prize – a red ribbon and $3.00. “Doug wanted to share his prize with his friends at Kresge Center,” says Patricia, “so he bought donuts for his coffee-time group.”
Doug’s artwork is now proudly displayed in his room at Kresge Center. What will he try next? Well, Doug is currently learning to make pottery, the latest Artful Aging class at UMRC. “We are so proud of his accomplishments,” says Patricia.