Making visual art benefits the "mental, physical and emotional well-being of individuals of all ages," according to the American Art Therapy Association. Art activities are expressive and therapeutic for disabled individuals. It can enrich quality of life, encourage experimentation and promote working at his or her pace to produce a pleasing project. Enriched by a sense of accomplishment, a disabled artist can enjoy pursuing creative expression that is adapted to his or her abilities and strengths.
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Large, adaptive brushes are available for disabled artists, and fingerpaints are an option, too. Regardless of the materials, painting stimulates nerve endings in the fingers and provides feedback to the brain. The ease and fluid motion of painting is less restrictive than drawing for those who have less-developed fine-motor abilities. Begin by showing the works of Rothko or Kandinsky--abstract expressionists whose work is bold and full of movement, not identifiable shapes--and play music to set a rhythm for brush strokes.
Stamps of various sizes and textures can provide an introduction to printmaking. Cut household sponges into chunks or use foam hair curlers. Have the artist make pictures or patterns on large sheets of paper using the stamps and different inks and paints. A stamping activity can build a disabled artist's self-confidence by showing him or her that he or she will make something with ease.
Working with clay and plasticene modelling compounds offers small muscle exercise and tactile enjoyment. Help the artist manipulate and squeeze the clay and get a feel of its texture and firmness. Show him or her how to roll out a clay snake and coil it up. Work up to a small pinch pot. Display pieces on a windowsill or by a favourite chair as testament to his or her accomplishment.
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