“All of my life I have been wanting to make a go of my art but have never taken the leap of faith.
I am 59 years old and still on the fence about doing so.
The real reason I suppose is a lack of confidence and feeling I am too old now to give it a go.
I have been watching your videos, and everyone is young. Are there any older artists who you have worked with?” -Christine
Rather than responding to this message myself, I invited my students in The MAKING Art Making MONEY Semester to chime in because they are a warm, welcoming, and intelligent global group of artists.
Here are some of their words of wisdom. Morenike sums it up nicely in her last comment.
Teena “You are never too old. Regret is a terrible thing. I am 63.”
Jenny “I’m 44. Better late than never.”
Ellie “I’m 66 and loving this semester! Just jump in!”
Terry “I am 60 and ready to start new. You are right Ann – not trying because of age or other things is just an excuse not to move forward.”
Ann Rea “Did any of you consider you age as a barrier to success or did you consider it as an advantage?”
Caroline “I used to believe age mattered. When I was younger (much), I believed I was too young to do what I wanted to do. I became older and all of a sudden I was too old to do what I wanted to do. Well, looking at that belief and seeing how crazy it is, I was able to let go of age limitations.”
Jeanne “Definitely age is an advantage. I’m 59, been lots of places, done lots of things, had lots of feelings. I thought it would be really fun to start a whole new way of interacting with the world as an artist just as I’m entering my 60th year. It’s like thumbing my nose, only double!”
Debbie “It never even crossed my mind that age was a consideration. I still don’t see it as either a barrier or an advantage.”
Ellie “Although I do think being older is an advantage…for me, that is!”
Debbie “I guess in terms of being more self-confident it is (for me), but I honestly don’t think about my age apart from maybe regretting not doing it sooner…”
Ellie “Did not think about my age…just wanted a new perspective on how I view what I do.”
Debbie “I think it would be very sad to dismiss the idea of doing something I really wanted to do because of my age. This person should do the death meditation; that ought to answer the question!”
Ann Rea “No kidding! :)”
Leslie “OK. Just did the death meditation. It was incredibly powerful. I realized the priority of love and kept asking myself why I had felt I had to prove myself as if loving and proving myself are opposites.
This is a profound thought that I want to understand at some point. Did anyone else experience this?”
Terry “I feel it has advantages-life experience, connections, and wisdom gained only through living. But it does have disadvantages as well. There is some age discrimination you encounter as you make new contacts and health and mobility issues begin to shape your decisions. But at every age, there are some barriers to work around or go over. The best thing is I realize that the time for change is now, not tomorrow. That realization should have come when I was 20, but alas it did not until now. I ran my first triathlon when I was 55.”
Ellie “I have a friend who is 90 and just purchased a house in New Hampshire. Got to love her. She’s my hero!”
Marilyn “I’m 68. I’m going to keep running until I drop. Whatever it is that you want to do, do it now and don’t stop.”
Lavennz “Maybe my thought is a little harsh, but the age is the exact reason that person need to make a decision & take action immediately comparing to the younger person because the time he/she can use for that dream is much more limited than the younger people. And what’s scarier than regretting not doing anything at the very end?”
Amy “I didn’t think about my age either. It’s not too late to change.”
Kati “I am blessed to be able to hang with “young” (just graduating/emerging) and “old” (retired) artist peeps! My “old” artist peeps out produce the younger ones. Why??? They are focused. Have a community supporting them. Are experienced in self and life!
There are more advantages to advanced age! Give your head a shake. Don’t let your ego fool you and use an excuse not to follow your passion!”
Maggie “I am a lifelong artist (and always learning) at 60. If you don’t take the leap now, you will always wonder ‘what if?;”
Pam “I don’t think about my age either as a limiting factor…actually age has given me more experiences and therefore more wisdom to draw from. The only way you grow old is to stop learning and having an open mind…and numbers don’t determine that!”
Leslie Love this!!! I would say, “in five years you will be X+5 years old, and you can either have been doing this for five years or worrying about your age for five years.” I would also say, ” anything you feel, like fear/lack of self-confidence/, etc. Lean into it! Do the thing you fear! That’s where the growth is.”
Also, I would not feel like trying to talk someone into it if they have a bunch of excuses. Just refer them to a page of quotes on age. Ha!
I remember reading about a man who had done tons of things and now at 94 he had graduated from seminary and was working as a chaplain. This is my plan. I am first going to become a plein air master, then a drummer in my 70s, then seminary after that. We will see:)
Oh, and this is the scariest thing I’ve done so far. Scarier than residency. Maybe all the things we do get scarier?
Sherry “Oh my goodness girl, age is no factor…. pull up your girlie pants and follow your passion!! I’m 56 and don’t feel old. Go Big or Go Home is my motto. Hope this helps you.”
Pat “What is she going to do for the next 40 years? Regret she didn’t follow her dream? Jump in. I’m 57 ( as of last Saturday) Started working full time at art at age 43, but hadn’t even learned to paint till I was 35 ( did no art between 3rd grade and then). I teach art and have had students up to age 92, still willing and eager to learn. A 91-year-old man even came on a painting workshop in Italy with me.
Live by your commitments, not your circumstances, – age is a circumstance- you can’t change it so just lean into it and do what you want now- Life can be short. Also, the Wayne Gretzky( hockey player) quote is fitting here-
“You miss 100% of the shots you never take.” Not trying guarantees failure.”
Leslie “I want to go to Italy…. thanks for this post! This is very inspiring to me. I think my timeline is similar to yours in starting painting in my thirties then committing more and more time to where I’m ready to jump in and do this. Thank you, Pat Fiorello.”
Pat “Leslie Happy to be of any support that I can. Feel free to be in touch. Private message me if you’d like to do a study partner call.”
Leslie “I will!”
Lesta “You made me smile big, Pat! I’m 57, too. Thanks for the encouragement and belated happy birthday!”
Pat “Thanks Lesta.”
Ann “I am 65…about ten years ago I told my husband that maybe when I retired, I could get good enough at something & do an Open Studio program popular in our area.
His answer? “Why wait?” (Love that guy!)
I haven’t stopped yet & each year gets more fun!”
AnneKarin “MAMM isn’t about art. it’s about marketing. You need desire and energy. Age has nothing to do with it. You can make art and market it, or you can just make it and rent storage space.”
Margi “O my goodness – it isn’t about physical age it is about so many other things…. I am 61, have done ‘art on the side’ in between working, raising kids and participating in their activities, working, helping my husband with his work/activities, working and now it is getting close to ‘my time’ to focus on what I want to do. Am getting too cautious about getting ‘broken’ again to spend my time working with horses in general and specifically youngster horses anymore so it is now time to draw and paint (and keep at part time job till I can quit that) so – no, age isn’t the barrier it is the choices we make – I don’t want to be bored the last 30 years of my life so, might as well focus on one of my ‘first loves’ of painting and creativity! One’s art and creativity never ‘dies’ but now and then needs to lay dormant while attending to other things… and that creativity seems to leak out into all bits and pieces of life and living….I figure I have about 40 hours a week to be creative out of a possible 168 …30 hours of $ work (part-time baker), 56 hours of sleep, +,- 30 hours of housework, a few hours for errands leaves between 30 and 40 for creativity – painting, drawing, fabric and wood/signs crafty stuff – keep that brain and body busy doing great stuff! Now I have added working my way through MMMA Semester and learning ALOT about myself – another journey that will make my whole other life experiences better for the sake of self-knowledge! Am very grateful to be in this class!!!! Some days am more able to take part than others…..but love every minute of it – even when it’s hard!!! Age – ugh…”
Nicole “I’m 31, I come across very few artists my age. Most artists I know are older, they retired and decided to pursue making and selling their art.”
Janel “I started at age 59. Its best time ever to do it. Like Terry Willis says.
I didn’t think of it in terms of advantage or disadvantage. It’s just where I am. And have been led repeatedly at this time …
My entire life has been living to challenge myths and lies … so was thrilled to find it applied to art. My head was really wrangling with the ” how the heck am I going to make a living” … and “supposed to be” this last push to make money and retire. I never planned to retire … unless retiring was still working/playing … kicking ass contributing.
No matter what I’ve done .. therapy and systems change work in States… mediation .. community organizing … my “dream home” was always had a nice art space.
Come to think of it, if I didn’t do this and I don’t try, it would be the greatest regret of my life.
Lived too long with the lies and myths that I can’t support myself with my art.
I’m a bit glad I do not have a body of work or a medium or modality that I’ve worked with for years.
I sold one painting four years ago.
I like being in a position to really explore … and I have been for four years.”
Marina “You don’t retire from being creative. Jump in.”
Morenike “I think the mere fact that we need articles showing how age can be an advantage when it comes to entrepreneurial ventures says something, in that outside this and similar groups it’s not always the norm to feel as sanguine about it. Especially in the world that worships not age nor wisdom, but youth.
I am in a few different artist groups, and I can tell you that this lady isn’t the exception, far from it. I personally never saw age as a barrier, but then I’ve never considered myself “old”… it’s another one of those social constructs and to me just a number. I think it depends on the reasons this lady has held herself back, but so many women of all ages lack confidence when it comes to their art promotion and business. We need more people of all ages who have been there and done it – no matter what their age.
Ageism is supposed to be dead, but it’s alive and well, so I feel for her.
I also feel with the right coaching and will she can overcome her current mindset.
Maybe it won’t seem so frightening if it’s seen less as a leap of faith and more as a journey.”