Lucky for me I came across a recent article in ArtNews Magazine that seems to support the idea that much of their best work was done by artists in their later years. Unlike some professions that are body-dependent ( like basketball!) the art field is full of folks who continued to forge new paths well into their senior years. The article lists Bellini (who died at 86), Michelangelo (d. 89), Titian (d. between 86 and 103, depending on your source), Ingres (d. 86), Monet (d. 86), Matisse (d. 84), Picasso (d. 91), and O’Keeffe (d. 98)as just a few.
As a late bloomer in art I admit to occasionally regretting the fact I opted not to study art in college. But I have to admit that at the time I was not blessed with the drive nor the dedication such a study would require. I wasn't ready in so many ways. And many of my colleagues now admit they did not get the education they needed to prepare them for the real world in the art field. Either they were not prepared to receive what was taught or the teaching was too restrictive. It was only as they experimented over the years that they have had the courage to find their own style and voice. So why is it that longevity and creative genius seem to go together?
Many of the things I concluded personally were also borne out by interviews with thriving artists who are well into their eighties. For instance: I no longer feel paralyzed by the fear of failure (well less often anyway); I recognize that time is precious and I have very little to waste; I freely admit to understanding the value of play and lots of experimentation; I really don't have anyone I must please (for a passing grade) other than myself; I have a perspective that only miles on the road can offer. The list goes on and on. It has as much to do with my interpretation and perspective on life as it does with expertise in technique.
This wonderful article in ArtNews is inspiring for any field but especially for those of us who hope and pray that our best work is still on the drawing board of the mind, ready to emerge in the years ahead.
So if you are considering a late start in creative expression, take heart, my recommendation is to dive in! You bring much to the drawing board (or instrument or tablet) that can't be taught, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. I think you will be surprised.
P.S. please don't construe my thoughts to mean that one MUST be this side of geriatric to be a fine artist! I am aware of some phenomenal young creatives and my guess is that they will be even more incredible as they age...marinating and becoming seasoned as they experience life. Their work will be richer and even more captivating as time goes on. I only share this article as a way to remind us all that as long as we don't stop producing we have every hope of the next piece being our very best.