Activity cards


Charcoal drawing

This activity is inspired by the great Matisse who towards the end of his career began to use a two-metre-long stick with a brush on the end to make his work. He suffered from arthritis and cancer which may have been one of the reasons he used the long stick. 

This is a useful activity to bring in residents who wouldn’t normally be interested in drawing to get them to have a go. It’s also works as an individual activity for those who struggle to see or have problems concentrating as it’s very quick to bring results, but equally the drawing can be added to created something more finished.

Materials Required:

  • Large roll of white paper. 
  • Works with brown packing paper, recycled paper.
    (If you have a local printer its worth asking if they have any offset large rolls going to recycling that you can pick up for free). If you can’t get hold of any paper, save some old cardboard boxes to flatten and draw on.
  • Pack of charcoal.
  • Bamboo sticks
  • Masking tape to tie the charcoal to the end of the bamboo sticks 

Step by Step Guide:

  1. make space in a communal area and roll out three or four metres of paper (or however much room you have) onto the ground
  2. move the resident’s chairs either side of the paper
  3. tape the charcoal to the ends of the bamboo sticks
  4. put some music on or read some poetry to get the creativity flowing and have fun
  5. hand over the drawing sticks (often good to demonstrate some examples yourself first)
  6. encourage drawing, writing or just mark making on the paper to make a group drawing, or cut out individual contributions at the end

Ideas for Further Activities with This Idea:

Try with large Chinese brushes and black ink for a Chinese writing/painting effect. Add in water to the ink to make more of a painting. 

Bring in music to the activity, playing different styles in a kind of ‘musical drawing’ stop/start fun way to see what different things people draw. 

It can also be tried on the wall if you have space and lay out sheets to cover the floor if you want to have fun with dripping paint. 


Ways to adapt for less able residents:

Ink and brushes are easier to manipulate than the charcoal as you don’t need to press so hard to make a mark, and it quickly makes an impression.

You can also swap out the brushes altogether for large coloured paper, and for those who can’t use their hands at all, ask them to direct you to where they would like shapes and colours placed as a collage on the paper instead.

Ways to adapt from group to individual and vice versa: 

For individuals I would perhaps begin with a conversation, stimulate memories and find images that the resident is interested in in order to find subjects for drawing to begin with (sometimes residents find the hardest thing just getting started).

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