Becoming an Artist in Later Life

picasso torch 2More artists than ever are now picking up a paintbrush later in life, and for good reason. Taking up a new artistic hobby later in life is a wonderful thing to do, as it can provide a much-needed sense of achievement and joy to your life.

Clichéd though it sounds, it really is never too late to start, and here we give you some of our top tips for making the second part of your life the most creative part.

1. Chase your second wind!
You can be a wonderful and skilled artist regardless of your age. Henri Matisse was made an invalid aged 71 after an experimental surgery on his colon in 1941, but he still referred to his artistic period during this time as his “second life”. He produced the wonderfully bright cutouts and illustrations – which still mesmerise us today – from his wheelchair. Picasso similarly used a torch and a camera to ‘draw’ onto a wall (see above), as his health and eyesight began to deteriorate.

2. Challenge your grey matter
Creating art is a wonderful way to add that healthy balance of happy satisfaction and fiendish struggle to your life, keeping your brain in tip-top condition. It is a natural workout for your brain cells as you observe, reproduce and create all at the same time. It requires you to be mentally dextrous, as well as training your muscles to obey your brain and eyes. In the words of Louise Bourgeois- who sculpted well up until her death aged 98- “art is a guarantee of sanity.”


3. Embrace new mediums
You don’t have to be an oil painter working on gigantic canvases to call yourself an artist. There are dozens of more unconventional (and less messy!) methods you can use to express your creativity, so don’t be afraid to experiment with new technology and techniques. For example, David Hockney took up drawing on his iPad with boundless enthusiasm in his early 70s, and has produced wonderful drawings doing so. If space, cost or money are an issue, keep things small and concise with watercolours, or even a selection of pens and inks.


4. More time = more practice
The freedom of having an unscheduled week can be a bit daunting if you are newly-retired. Channelled in the right way, however, the extra hours can be an enormous advantage to your artistic endeavours. See if you can carve out an hour or two a day to practice your art. The beauty of being your own teacher is that you can pick and choose what you feel like practicing. If the sun is shining, take a sketchbook and have a go at a landscape! Or if you’re lacking inspiration, try an exercise from our blog, like How to Draw Negative Space.

We’d love to hear about your experiences of becoming an artist in later life!

Author: Clara Tait

1 Response

  1. Dee Xanthos

    I am coming to actually making my own Art later in life, very much a beginner!
    I have always very much enjoyed looking at paintings and love gallery visits.
    I find the blog very interesting and helpful. I attend a weekly class now and thoroughly recommend it. My tutor is so encouraging even though some of my efforts fail.I try and draw every day now. Many thanks to all !

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