As I’ve said before, I am not an artist. This may sound a bit odd coming from an art teacher, but I can think of no better fit for me right now. By profession, I am a pediatric occupational therapist, but in my mind, I am the next Martha Stewart. This combination has worked well when I want to have clients work out of their comfort zone during therapy. We make play dough, we try new foods, and we craft away, all the while building fine motor, visual motor, and sensory motor skills. When I was ready to transition out of the private clinic and school system, teaching art classes seemed like the perfect solution. Lucky for me, my partner in crime is able to fill in my gaps of expertise in the art realm.
If you sit down to think about it, there are so many therapeutic benefits to art. In fact, there is an entire field dedicated to art therapy. What we do, however, is not art therapy. It is therapeutic art. Occupational therapy was founded on the idea that there is a natural, therapeutic benefit to performing our activities of daily living, whatever those may be. For example, to put on a pair of shoes, or make a cup of tea, you would need to engage many sensory systems, use several muscle and movement systems, and have the endurance to work until completion. The same is true for art. In order to complete a paint-by-number, you would need your visual system, fine motor control, and sufficient endurance for both to complete the entire page.
Coming up with the projects each week is one of the best aspects of running an art program. Being creative, problem solving, and practicing the projects to “perfection”. But even more fun that that is watching the faces of our artists as they show off their finished project, so proud, and so accomplished!