When he was younger, Neil Rossine liked going up north, spending time in nature, raising animals for their pelts, fishing, listening to rock music and spending time with friends. Today as a resident of Ovation Jewish Home, he is enjoying expressing his passion for these same things, through artwork.

With no previous experience, Neil first tried his hand making art through Ovation’s Memories in the Making art program, a national program sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association that encourages participants to celebrate their life stories through art. Through the program, Neil discovered new skills he didn’t know he had, including drawing and watercolor painting. His life passions – nature, animals, people and rock music – began appearing as subject matter in his work.

Neil likes the artmaking process. He says it relaxes him and helps him take a fresh look at things he might otherwise have taken for granted. Art has been especially important to Neil throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and he has been creating work on a nearly daily basis. While he may not be able to travel and move around the building and the community like he used to, he has focused on the ability to travel inward through his imagination.

Due to a serious car accident many years ago, and the loss of the use of his dominant right hand, Neil had to learn to draw and paint with his non-dominant left hand. Some studies show that using the non-dominant hand helps people access the right side of the brain where creativity and imagination reside. Neil has found this to be true.

Well known and loved at the Jewish Home as an active, friendly, “happy-go-lucky” guy, Neil doesn’t let much get him down, despite the challenges life dealt him. When he’s not making art, he volunteers to water the plants or deliver newspapers and mail to his fellow residents. Neil also enjoys many of Ovation’s other activities, including bingo, the men’s club, poker games, movies, the music program, and Writer’s Workshop.

When asked to sum up in one word how Neil feels about life and his artwork, he says, “Fantastic!”

Footnote: When pandemic protocols ease, Neil Rossine’s artwork will be on display in Ovation Jewish Home.