Wendy is a long time art coach, helping students for deacades discover the artist within by teaching simple methods and working with the student at his or her level

“I love to help people learn to express themselves with painting, and am always excited to help a new person see that they can indeed paint! Patience and tools: this is how we create new artists, and anyone can do it”

These are some of the things people say to me:

“I can’t draw!”

So often I have heard people say this when I meet them! A bit wistfully, they tell me they tried once and found they could not draw. I believe everyone can draw exquisitely if they learn how! I have taught thousands of people to draw in less than an hour and everyone who followed the steps learned how!

“I have no talent”

Yes, everyone has talent! In a room full of kindergarteners none with say they are not good at art. Yet most adults think they are not artists. I have seen hundreds of people discover the artist within. There are tried and true methods to do this, and I love watching people blossom in this way!

“I am too old to learn”

It is never too late. You increase your ability to learn by learning! I like to take people at the pace they are comfortable and teach them to paint. Going at your own pace is the key.

“I am not the talented one in the family”

Perhaps a relative was singled out as the artistic one, leaving not much room for you to be an artist. You can learn by following the steps and regain your confidence as an artist.

“Watercolor is too hard”

This is a myth. Once you learn the basics, watercolor is easy, and more fluid and interactive than other paints. If you love the look, you will want to learn the method!

What ART can do

Aging may be the new frontier, with cognitive scientists conducting studies along side of brain research to discover what can soften the effects of growing older. A study at the Mayo Clinic produced evidence that engaging in the arts can prevent cognitive impairment. 16.7 percent of artistically active subjects, as compared to 49.2 percent of non-artistically active subjects, had cognitive impairment.

They are not sure why, but because activities like painting use many parts of the brain, it is possible that new neuron pathways are being created to compensate for lost ones.

Taking up painting later in life can be daunting because the majority of the population believes you must have innate artistic talent to be successful. This is a myth in our culture. Actually painting can be learned just like learning another language. Anyone can get the benefits, which also include better physical health, less depression, and a new understanding of the world.

The time spent in painting sessions can be a journey to another world, with time and space suspended while full concentration on color, shapes and subtle details of the visible world engross the painter completely. Even physical pain can disappear when fully concentrating on translating a subject matter into the language of paint.

While some art classes for older people are not instructive, but just a safe place to play with paint and socialize, many people are capable of real art education. If one does not want to enroll in a formal art school and learn color theory, use of materials, composition and drawing, they can still find art classes that teach all these things at the pace needed for the student.

Another study shows that viewing and understanding art can decrease physical symptoms such as inflammation, because of the positive emotions, such as awe, evoked looking at masterpieces. The best way to appreciate art is to know how it is made, pointing again in the direction of art making decreasing aging.

Following discovers that elders can revive memory from having the right music program,  geriatric institutions are developing other art programs.  They find elders can use art tools for personal expression, and this can reduce stress hormones and blood pressure, thus improving health and forestalling aging.

The sooner a middle aged or older person makes art making or art appreciation part of their life, the stronger these effects will be in turning back the clock. But even late in life, engagement in painting or other arts can improve the quality of life.

Wendy Soneson had been teaching thousands of people to paint and draw over the last thirty years, and now specializes in meeting the needs of retired and older students. She has found anyone willing can become a competent or even expert painter.


berkeley self


Wendy Soneson creates artistic experiences for elders in their home or other setting.

The session will be a highlight of the week for students: a time to share stories and and learn about the expressive opportunities of the medium of watercolor. It is a time to talk about art and its place in the world, and in the life of the student.

In sessions Wendy will:

*Give full attention to the student’s life history and present situation, while teaching the basic skills of drawing and watercolor.

*Discuss the art world and the meaning of art in life

*If possible, go on art journeys to beautiful sights or museums, to share thoughts and reactions.

*Tailor sessions to meet the level of interest and ability. This could include music and other art forms, as well as viewing and discussing visual arts.

*Encourage and appreciate the student for efforts to forward to more exciting and deeper art experiences.

*Help take paintings to the next level: making cards or having a show.

She specializes in watercolor, an appropriate medium for older people due to comparative ease of use, and low toxicity. She gives demonstrations at major art museums and runs individual and small classes in the Bay area. Her degree is a Masters in Education, specializing in the Arts in Human Development, from Lesley University.  wendysoneson@gmail.com