Therapy Idea of the Week: Painting with Wheels

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By: Pamela Ullmann, ATR-BC, LCAT
copyright 2010. Pamela Ullmann.

This blog post has been reprinted with express permission of the author as it appeared on her on the Full Spectrum Blog

Although it has been a while since I have ran a “Wheel Art” workshop, I did find it very gratifying to help children create works of art with their own wheels!

What is Wheel Art?
Wheel Art is a unique activity for individuals who are wheel chair dependent. Each “wheel artist” uses the wheels of their chair to paint onto a large canvas secured to the floor. The artists all contribute their own style, color and unique patterns that create an amazing community mural to be shared.

Who Can Participate in Wheel Art?
The wheel artist may wheel themselves; either manually or through a powered wheel chair. Or, if they are not able to do so an assistant can help them move across the surface. Children, young adults and older adults all enjoy wheel art. Wheel art is empowering for the person confined to a wheel chair because it allows them to express their creativity in an exceptional way. Just as each person is unique, the patterns from their wheels are as well; they reflect a part of themselves which is “one of a kind”. After the piece is completed the artists can proudly look back and recognize their own tread marks on the canvas; feeling a part of a community of special individuals.

Painting with Wheels
Different painting techniques are used to achieve successful application onto the wheels. Non-toxic acrylic paints along with various brushes and rollers are used in conjunction with special additives to maximize paint vibrancy and fluidity.

Each wheel artist chooses a color to paint with. After successfully loading the wheels with their chosen color, the artist moves their chair through and across the surface of the canvas creating patterns and linear shapes throughout. Sometimes, a favorite song is played in the background while the painting takes place. The experience then becomes a “dance” with their chairs as well as a visual art activity. A wonderful process with a beautiful product!

For more information on having a “Wheel Art Day” for artists in wheel chairs, please email [email protected]

Featured Author: Pamela Ullmann, ATR-BC,LCAT

Many thanks to Pamela Ullmann for providing us with this article for our newsletter and website.

Pamela has worked in a variety of clinical, educational and business settings. Her passion for the arts led her to become an art therapist in 1996.

Pamela works therapeutically with children and families dealing with medical, emotional , behavioral and special needs issues (now specializing in Autism Spectrum Disorders). Currently, she is working as an art therapy supervisor for Heartsong, Inc, developing new programming for a new nonprofit organization called Healing Arts Family Connection, Inc and works in her own private practice, Colors of Play, LLC. Please support our contributing authors. Visit Pamela’s Blog, Full Spectrum at http://colorsofplay.blogspot.com/ and her website at: http://www.colorsofplay.com/

In addition to her clinical abilities, Pamela has developed administrative and managerial skills which has enabled her to contribute to all aspects of business planning and development.

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