Skip to content

There is no Cure for Grandmother : Sketching on Location for Science Quebec Magazine

October 31, 2014


I’ve recently been drawing on location at a residential home for people with Alzheimer’s disease. I was there on behalf of Science Quebec Magazine, gathering drawings for their article There is no Cure for Grandmother. You can order the issue in e-format [here]. (In French).
I spent a day with the residents, sitting with them and seeing the daily routine. Most of the day are the normal things; having meals and taking medications. Getting a blood pressure checkup. Therapists visit at various times of the day, doing brain-training exercises that range from picture puzzles, to helping residents garden, or even visiting with pets.

Ladies on Couch_Color
I sat in a sunny living room with the residents, while they napped, watched Celine Dion singing on DVD, and quietly moved around in their own little world. Only some of them seem to be aware of each other as people. Talking occasionally, even if their friend did not talk back. One lady would speak only in Spanish, one of the staff who was fluent would answer her when they were nearby.
The residents were interested in what I was doing, and of course I showed them my drawings, pointing out who I was sketching. But I couldn’t be sure how much they understood. One fellow was very happy to meet me, shaking hands and introducing himself, even though he only spoke French, and I only English.

The reality of their life was brought home, when he introduced himself to me again 10 minutes later and then again a third time. Just as happy to meet a new person each time.

I was left with the impression he was quite a salesman in his day. Had a charming handshake and hearty greeting.
One of the ladies enjoyed walking around the inner courtyard, and would casually take your arm and walk you around and around the loop. She knew I was a new visitor, as she refused to walk with the other staff while I was there.

For the artists who will likely ask – these are pencil sketches in a 11×14″ drawing pad, transferred by scan-and-printing to watercolor paper and painted in the studio.  I did not do color on location, partially because they were for print, but mostly I didn’t want to bring paints and water into the house. I have done some color adjustments (fading back a bit), and added the thrown paint spots digitally.

14 Comments leave one →
  1. October 31, 2014 2:23 PM

    Reblogged this on william karam kassab.

  2. Sheryl C permalink
    October 31, 2014 3:10 PM

    Sad, sensitive drawings and post – well done.

  3. October 31, 2014 4:48 PM

    Reblogged this on williamkaramkassab1.

  4. October 31, 2014 5:24 PM

    Your portraits are beautiful and poignant.

  5. Sharon Mann permalink
    October 31, 2014 5:25 PM

    You’ve captured their humanity so beautifully.

  6. Édith Séguin permalink
    October 31, 2014 5:58 PM


    Bad translation! Would be better to say : Not grandmother’s remedies…

    Envoyé de mon iPad

  7. October 31, 2014 6:27 PM

    It’s extraordinary work!
    This kind of Function of Art is not seen before, impressive experience.

  8. October 31, 2014 6:41 PM

    Very touching!

  9. Mary Warren permalink
    October 31, 2014 8:01 PM

    I am a retired occupational therapist and fellow citizen sketcher. Love these. Thank you for sharing them.

    • October 31, 2014 9:37 PM

      Thanks everyone, and Mary, it’s great to hear coming from you, that the sketches tell the story.

  10. Marc Lpine permalink
    October 31, 2014 11:35 PM

    Bravo Marc,

    It is so beautiful! We feel the tenderness of the people and the atmosphere of the residential home. It reminded me the last months of my parent’s life. My wife was director of a residential home (CHSLD) nearly all her working years. It reminds her all these years and says you really captured the spirit of these persons.

    Bravo again !


    Le 2014-10-31 à 14:20, Citizen Sketcher a écrit :

    > >

  11. November 3, 2014 2:28 AM

    Thank you for sharing your day It was a very sensitive and touching insight into your day and how you experienced their life in that time . And your sketches, as always are extraordinary


  1. Life Sketching vs. Studio Montage | Citizen Sketcher
  2. Good Question of the Week : Why is there no paper texture in your scans? | Citizen Sketcher

Leave a Reply to Édith Séguin Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: