creative thinking older adults

If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silent. —Vincent Willem Van Gogh

I think of myself as a “post-menopausal artist.” I was a little over 60 when I surprised myself and started painting. I walked into an art supplies store and bought some acrylic paint, paper, and brushes.

That same evening, I unpacked my treasures and began what would become a new, happy, energizing, and satisfying part of my daily life.

I had never tried painting before and had no idea what I was doing. Step by step, I learned by mustering the courage to try and by making art every single day.

By that time I lived on my own. I had as much time as I wanted to dedicate to my new interest. That first night of excitement opened up a whole new world of making creativity and art an active part of my daily life. It was not a spectator sport for me anymore.

A Room of My Own

A year or two later, I converted my guest cottage into a workshop/studio. Out went the bed, which found a new home in a small room in the main house, and in came every piece of art I had created, along with all my art supplies, books, and magazines.

I hung up a sign at the door which read: “Welcome! Please take responsibility for the energy that you bring into my studio and my home. Stay and make some art!”

I love my studio. It is a workshop where I learn a little about myself every day. It has inspired a lot of my friends to try and make their own artist caves to create things for their own enjoyment.

The Spontaneity of an Amateur and Beginner’s Luck

We have such rigid ideas of what “art” should look like. I never went to art school, nor did I ever have the ambition to put brush to canvas before. I was an art lover, not an art maker. I was raising a family, working, traveling, living.

Other than rudimentary sketches, I didn’t draw either and yet, when I tried different techniques and incorporated various mediums to my daily practice, I got hooked and couldn’t stop.

In fact, drawing faces became my thing. Neither portraits nor total caricatures, my ladies have something to say, and they certainly speak to me.

You Are Not Going to Like Everything You Paint and That’s OK

I don’t always love what I produce but sometimes I love it so much that I have it professionally framed. Little by little, my ladies have left my workshop and began invading my house, sharing wall space with paintings and prints from artists I’ve admired and collected through the years.

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When an image doesn’t come out right, I keep it, examine it, and wonder why my hand had created it. Sometimes, I revisit these works and find that they aren’t all that bad. Sometimes I even touch them up a little.  

In many ways, this is a reminder that real-life women come in all shapes and sizes. We all have our own facial expressions, imperfections, and strong opinions.

A Personal Journey – No “Validation” Required

Recently, a friend came to visit from New York, and when he entered my studio, he was delighted (and probably relieved) that he liked what he saw. “These are wonderful! Have you shown them? Do you sell them?” he asked.

While I give some of my creations to friends and family, I’ve also had “open studio” time when people can visit and have a glass of wine and perhaps buy a piece or two. What I don’t do is spend time marketing my work.

I know an exhibition is meant to “validate” an artist, but I don’t really need that kind of validation. I am happy to have an outlet that keeps me going to my workshop every morning with my coffee, my dog Pino, and my cats, Boo and Puma. I wish everybody that wonderful feeling.

Resources and Help Along the Way

Of course, I didn’t get where I am now all on my own. I have attended workshops and met wonderful and creative artists who showed me new techniques or provided inspiration with their work. The ones I’m most inspired by are Julie at Balzer Designs, Carla Sonheim, Dana Wakley, and a colorful place called Creative Bug.

What would you like to learn these days? Do you think you are a creative person? Which part of your house can you convert to your artistic needs? Let’s have a conversation!