Bringing Art Making Into Your Life
Well I have finally given up my fantasy of winning a gold medal, but I can console myself with the notion that I will never be too old to make art.
Art isn’t age-ist: you can make it no matter how or old or young you are. While some artists are like rock stars and seem to do their best work while they are young and groovular, many more artists seem to come into their own as they get on in life.
Younger people can be a bit patronizing about old people making art, ‘Ooh, look at you! Still painting at your age! Why don’t you just put your feet up dear and I’ll get you a nice cup of tea and a biscuit’.
Even Titian [1488-1576] when he became an old chap had to put up with younger painters suggesting that he should keep his paintings to himself so he doesn’t ruin his reputation. Titian’s eyesite had dimmed and his hands were a bit shaky so he was painting in quite a different way; using much thicker paint and modelling the paint more, using brighter colour and would even use his fingers to help blend the colours together.
As you can see from the above picture painted by Titian when he was in his early eighties, he was still nailing it! What were those young whippersnappers on about? A youngish Tintoretto, able to see where Titian was trying to go, was the lone defender of Titian’s evolving method.
Some artists get discovered after they have been making art quietly on their own without having been obviously involved in the art world. New Zealand artist, Rosalie Gascoigne [1917-1999] didn’t have her first big [ serious? important?] exhibition until she was in her late 50’s. She’d been making art for quite a while by then, more or less just doing her own thing.
In an interview, she said of her late start as an artist:
‘Once I’d started on my art journey I was in it with a vengeance. I needed it so badly. At last life was full of possibilities.’
From ‘A late developer’, by Janet Hawley, Sydney Morning Herald, Good Weekend 15 November 1997
Rosalie like to make art using found objects, like the Schweppes soft drink crates she cut up and used to make the assemblage above. [Sorry I don’t know the actual name of this one.] She was pretty prolific in her making and I think must have really gotten something from it. She kept making until she died at the age of 82.
Matisse [1869-1954] is well known for making work using cut up paper in his oldage. He had previously used cut out paper to plan his paintings but now in his 70’s he’d become unable to paint standing at an easel so started to use the paper cutting as a complete technique.
His cut outs always seemed to me to be a beautiful whittling down to the sublime basics. Not at all a last resort, at least in the result.
Whether you are thinking you are too old to try making art for the first time, or worried you are past it I would say ‘Go forth old artists! and make art! You are never too old’……Still don’t turn down that cup of tea, just wait till the whippersnappers have left the room and whip out the coloured paper and scissors you have hidden in your dressing gown.