There may be some truth to the idea that if you want to be successful in a given art form then you should start when you’re young. But there's no reason to assume that you'll stop being creative just because you’re getting older.
“Those people who have developed lives with multiple interests and multiple talents from an early age continue to do very well in later adulthood. However, repeating the same sort of creative pursuit over the decades without advancing your art can be like doing no exercise other than sit-ups your whole life” said Michael Merzenich, professor emeritus of neuroscience at the University of California and the author of Soft-Wired, a book about optimizing brain health. With this in mind, Merzenich encourages people to stay creative and inquisitive as they grow older and be willing to do new things. “Take up the piccolo, embrace new technologies, learn a new language, or take painting class.”
An example of lifelong learning can be found in 105-year old Marilee Shapiro, an award-winning American artist who has exhibited her work at museums and galleries across the country. Shapiro started her career in the 1930’s making her mark on the art world over the decades and into the current century. As time went by she was aware that she had to make some accommodations to age. At 88, when she realized that it had become difficult for her to physically handle her 4- to 5-foot bronze sculptures, she took a course in computer design. “My colleague students were about 21, and they knew how to start a computer. I didn’t, so it was very challenging and very frustrating,” she recalled. But once she learned Photoshop, she began manipulating and transforming her old drawings and prints into new images that look more like watercolors. “It was just fascinating, and really seductive,” she said. “I believe that every time a new medium is discovered, it just starts a new range of possibilities, even if you’re just changing from one kind of paint to another.”
Are you looking for something new and inspiring? NVRC offers a wide range of art programs and services that encourage creative expression and exploration. Whether you're just beginning, or if you have some experience in your chosen art form, it’s never too late to nurture the artist within.
Learn more about NVRC art programs and services here.
Learn more about artist Marilee Shapiro here.
Learn more about the Canadian Index of Well Being here.