Art with heart

Whether you like creating art, admiring art or buying art, the Partners in Art initiative is a win-win-win. After a long COVID-related hiatus, it has finally returned.

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Cindy VanderHoek, a recreation therapist with ACTT, and Kathy Sager, a recreation therapist at the Ottawa campus of The Royal, pictured here during the most recent call for art on June 30.
Cindy VanderHoek, a recreation therapist with ACTT, and Kathy Sager, a recreation therapist at the Ottawa campus of The Royal, pictured here during the most recent call for art on June 30.

Partners in Art provides an opportunity for clients, volunteers, staff members, and community partners to create original art and have it displayed it in the Winter Garden for all to enjoy.

Submissions typically include painted canvases, collage, printed photos, illustrations and occasionally, sculptures and carvings. 

Kathy Sager, a recreation therapist at The Royal, says art is an excellent outlet and activity for our mental wellness. 

“Creative expression of any sort is so important,” explains Sager. “There's a phenomenon called flow where you have that sense of timelessness and get so involved in the activity that you lose sense of other obligations and are just in the moment. It’s like a mindfulness practice in some ways.” 

Sager, who first started at Royal Ottawa Place Long-term Care in 2005, has coordinated the Partners in Art initiative for nearly three years. The committee generally consists of three staff members and three or four volunteers.

In pre-COVID days, calls for art were issued three times a year. Sager is happy to be back on track. The most recent call for art for Ottawa took place on June 30. About a dozen people submitted their works of art, which are now posted on The Royal’s website and on display in cases near the Winter Garden Café and the Women’s Resource Centre.

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Pat has participated in the Partners in Art for the past six or seven years. He enjoys creating art with intricate patterns that tells a story and entices people to take a closer look.
Pat has participated in the Partners in Art for the past six or seven years. He enjoys creating art with intricate patterns that tells a story and entices people to take a closer look.

Contributing artists also have the option of selling their art. 80 percent of the sale price goes to the artist, and 20 percent goes into the Partners in Art bursary fund, which gives clients of The Royal up to $100 towards art supplies or art-related workshops.

Art is generally priced in the $20-$200 range. 

Patrick Pronovost, an artist and client of The Royal, is one of the individuals with works available for purchase. 

Pronovost, who’s been drawing since he was about 10 years old, has participated in Partners in Art for the past six or seven years. He enjoys creating art with intricate patterns that tell a story and entices people to take a closer look. 

The two pieces he submitted for the most recent call for art are prints of his own original paintings, to which he added about 20 layers of digital effects. 

“I like having it on display for people to enjoy,” says Pat. “It doesn't matter if they like it, it’s just something to appreciate or look at and say, ‘yeah that's different.’ Selling it is a bonus.”

To see the latest submissions to the Partner’s in Art initiative, go to theroyal.ca/patient-care-information/patients/partners-art-initiative.

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Various pieces of artwork that are for sale

What makes you feel inspired and energized?

This is a question that recreation therapists like Kathy Sager ask their clients, but it’s a good question to ask ourselves as well. Carving out some time to do the activities we truly enjoy is a good way to boost our mental wellness. 

Cultivate creativity! Here are a few ideas if you’re interested in trying your hand at a new creative pursuit:

  • Take a creative course online (photography, writing, art, design)
  • Try a paint-by-number kit
  • Keep a doodle journal, or try a Zentangle (it’s meditative doodling, look it up!)
  • Build a fairy garden
  • Memorize a poem, or write one of your own
  • Do a jigsaw puzzle
  • Learn to paint (check out the Bob Ross tutorials on YouTube)