When I was younger I bought into the myth that you had to attend art school, earn your master’s degree, get accepted into topnotch galleries in New York and LA and finally, hallelujah, be tapped by curators who would then place your artwork into premiere art museums throughout the world. You would truly be an artist and your name would be engraved in the annals of art history. But where does that leave all the other thousands of people who like to create art but don’t take this path?
I’m writing this particularly for all the closeted artists who work as accountants, lawyers, nurses, engineers or some other career but who secretly want to make art but were told that being a painter wasn’t a practical career choice. One of my students lamented, “I always wanted to be an artist, but now I’m 55—it’s too late for me.” It’s never too late to learn to paint and sell your work! Don’t listen to naysayers or your own negative mind chatter. You can be an artist!
Take a local class in your town to get you started, or watch YouTube videos for inspiration. If leaving your home and immersing yourself in a workshop across the country would help, then do that. Whatever it takes to get started—begin.
Scientific studies have proven that making art lowers cortisol levels therefore reducing stress in your body—it’s good for your health! Learning new skills and problem solving is also known to help the plasticity of your brain and keep your mind sharp. And, in my opinion, remaining playful and experimenting with new techniques keeps you young at heart and perhaps even a more interesting individual!
Remember how fun it was to finger-paint as a child? Tap into that joy again. Get out some acrylic paints, water, paper and play. Don’t use brushes—just create fields of color using your fingers, enjoying the tactile fun of making a mess and creating something that before that moment never existed. Notice how time disappears and problems vanish while you are making art—it’s magical!
I have students who began painting in their early sixties and a few years later are selling their art. They may not end up with their work in museums, but again they might. Grandma Moses’ paintings first sold when she was 78 and her first art show was at New York’s Museum of Modern Art! Anything can happen!
Don’t let anyone ever tell you it’s too late to be an artist. There are many different types of art, ways to show and sell your work and people out there that want to purchase your art because YOU made it! If you are passionate about making art, then I guarantee you that someone will respond to the energy of your passion with their wallet. There is nothing like a unique, one-of-a-kind, piece of art made by an artist’s hands, mind and heart. It’s actually priceless when you think about it.
Art is for any age and any time. Just begin. Create a socio-political statement with your art, an environmental movement or simply add joy and beauty to the world around you. Remember to have fun with art and always Be Yourself, No Apologies!