Painting with Parkinsons- What is it?

Painting with Parkinsons is an innovative art program for people living with Parkinson’s. The group is facilitated by a team of artists, therapists and volunteer helpers.



The program was pioneered by artist Nancy Tingey in 1994, who first came to the idea after her husband Bob was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Overseas studies funded through a Churchill Fellowship allowed Nancy to further develop the program, and today the benefits of using art as a therapy for Parkinson’s are well established.


What happens in a class?

To visit the art studio for a glimpse of how it works, please take a moment to view the report on Painting with Parkinsons that was featured on Prime National News on 20th March 2018.   You can view that report at the link here.

Designed to provide a ‘can do’ activity for people whose abilities have been compromised by Parkinson’s, a typical class begins with an informal chat and refreshments followed by a meditation or centering down time to calm the nervous system and focus the mind. This is followed by exercises to kick start the body into action using prompts and triggers. Making the first mark, which leads to another, is in itself a major achievement for people who find writing difficult. And, although communication through speech is often compromised with Parkinson’s, self expression flows through the use of high quality art materials which encourage confident experimentation. Magic happens.

Curiously, evidence suggests creative ability is enhanced by Parkinson’s disease. Certainly it seems that when the activity ‘kicks in’ there is no stopping the artist at work.

As the session draws to a close with respectful discussion of the morning’s work it becomes clear that participants are enjoying increased social interaction as well as experiencing relief from stress and depression. Feelings of self-worth are enhanced through creative art activity and Parkinson’s symptoms, such as tremor, may be alleviated.


‘Resonance’ - CSO Musicians in the Painting with Parkinsons Program

Music’s ability to elicit vivid and highly subjective associations with colour, emotion and memory has been recognised as an ideal catalyst for initiating painting particularly in an art therapeutic context. While recorded music has been used extensively it has been observed that the experience has been heightened by the presence of ‘live’ instruments and musicians.

Painting with Parkinsons is very grateful for the support of the Canberra Symphony Orchestra (CSO). CSO musicians collaborate with Painting with Parkinsons artists at regular sessions once a month throughout the year. 



Find out more

Painting with Parkinsons is a very popular activity.  Contact us to check if a place is available and if not you can put your name on a waiting list.

The group meets on

For more information, artists’ stories, examples of artwork and contact details visit