FOLLOW YOUR DREAM
Is there an artist in you yearning to come out? It’s never too late to follow your dream. Surely, I am not the only one to follow my dream of becoming an artist after retirement. I share the joy of painting with many seniors who have found that they have more time for their lifetime hobby. Also, with others who had never picked up a paintbrush until they were in their mature years. Visual arts must be one of the most popular pastimes for seniors. Winston Churchill was a clear example. He said: “I am never going to have anything more to do with politics or politicians. When this war is over I shall confine myself entirely to writing and painting.” The actor Tony Curtis too followed his dream of painting: “Now I'm a painter. That was another opportunity I was able to pursue, I've been painting all my life, now it's become a second career because of my success in the movies.”
There are many reasons for the popularity of art among seniors. Age is no barrier to your creativity. Titian, Michelangelo, Degas and Cezanne remained active in their senior years. Painting is something you can do well way into your senior years as long as your eyesight and brush-holding fingers remain steady. It gives you growing satisfaction and is relatively inexpensive. It can also be combined with travel; paintings of places you visit make an excellent souvenir for you or your buyers. It creates opportunities for new friendships with fellow artists. And apart from other therapeutic benefits, it keeps both sides of your brain active.
Where to start? Many admire my work and say they wish they had the talent to be able to paint. My answer is that anybody can learn to paint if they put their mind to it. Very few people have not tried to draw or paint at some time in their lives. Some, like me, have been ‘Sunday Painters’ until retirement from their full time jobs (with me it was financial services) gave them more opportunity to resume their hobby on a more permanent basis. All you need is a sketchbook and a pencil. Very soon you will want to move on to paints (watercolours, acrylics, oils, pastels; take your pick)
Many successful artists are self-taught. But a little help won’t hurt. Community centres run art courses at many levels at a modest cost. This is a good way to start. There are also many Art Clubs in all areas which provide the opportunity to attend workshops and exhibit your work. Innumerable ‘how-to’ books and videos wait at your local library. Don’t get too engrossed in reading. Pick up your paint brush or pencil and start right away. If you are new to the art, you have an advantage. Your mind is not cluttered with past efforts. You have an opportunity to be original. Even young tots can come up with some unique results. The scope for growth is unlimited. You can never say you’ve achieved your goal. Paul Cezanne said “I could paint for a hundred years, a thousand years without stopping and I would still feel as though I knew nothing.”
Go outside, alone or with a friend or a group of artists, and .be ‘one with nature’. Outdoor painting (Plein air) in Canada’s magnificent outdoors is an enjoyable way of improving your skills and enjoying nature. Studio painting at home is another option. Find some space, preferably with natural light, where you can set up your easel and paint undisturbed. You may have to make compromises. Many paint in their basement without the benefit of enough natural light; it is a good space where you can leave your easel and paints from day to day ready for painting without the need of having to set up every time. A pleasant environment makes for a better painting. So put on some background music and arrange your space to be artist friendly! Leonardo is reputed to have furnished his studio complete with flowers and musicians.
The pride and sense of accomplishment of a finished painting is something to relish. Having your painting hung in an Art Show is also a source of pride. And of course, finding a person who is prepared to pay money for your work gives you an even greater sense of achievement; as is winning an award at one of the local art shows. The subjects which can inspire you are endless. Pets, people, landscapes, barns, boats, flowers, kitchen sinks …or try your hand at abstract painting.
Don’t expect to get rich by selling your art (few have) but your passion for this hobby could turn out to be a money earner. The internet has opened up a new vista for art. Many artists set up their own web site and sell internationally. I have found eBay a good outlet for selling small inexpensive art (in competition with a few million artists and dealers). The market is huge. And don’t forget. The paintings you complete and leave behind after you die could be your legacy.