Starting Late In Life...
I'm 48 (in June) and feel like the proverbial Dog starting a new trick! My Wife and Family have been behind me in my art dreams. I have the 3rd bedroom as my studio; A drafting table; And few years ago I bought WACOM Cintiq 13HD, and a few after I got that I bought a Cintiq 22HD from some money my Dad left in his will. If there is a good book on art recommended by anyone on YOUTUBE I buy it. I own a A3 printer/scanner. I have spit load Pencils and Paper... BUT I have two problems: PROBLEM 01) I suffer from G.A.S. "Gear-Acquisition-Syndrome" I bought the Cintiq 13HD and 22HD thinking it would make me better Artist. I feel like The Narrator from FIGHT CLUB: I there is a gimmick tool I had to have (Not saying the Cintiq 13HD or 22HD is a gimmick tool.) if someone like Proko showed an artist's book or something like that I bought it. I have a heap of Art Text Books. I know I am a Gear-Head its my curse! PROBMEL 02) I lack self confidence, and feel mediocre in my art skills. Every morning I wake up and feel like I am wasting time. My Question is, with all this in mind, can this Old Dog learn a new trick?
I gave up drawing at 13 thinking I would never be any good, and started again at age 30. I would wonder in the middle of the night if i was wasting my time, but came across three good pieces of advice: Don’t give up, don’t give up, don’t give up. From a practical point of view, an excellent tip I read somewhere was to copy old master drawings, write the date on them, store them in a cardboard box. Then copy the first one again. This way you will see proof of improvement because you can’t see yourself getting better from day to day. Hope this helps. I’m illustrating graphic novels now.
I’m a bit younger at 30, but I only started to so much as doodle at age 28. Seriously. I had an elementary school teacher show my drawing to the rest of my class and mock it. It scarred me so bad, I never drew again until I turned 28. I still only do art a few times a year because I never really got over that experience, but I’m certainly not going to give up. And neither should you; the human brain is a wonderful thing and we can learn at any age!
Hi Darren, Ray Bradbury used to say that to become a good writer you need to write one story a week every week and at the end of the year you'll have a couple of good stories because no one can write 52 bad stories in a row. He had a point. Almost everyone has a bit of gearitis when they start so shake if off and move forward. I had it. If I get Blackwing pencils I will draw better, if I get Stillman & Birn sketchbooks I'll draw better, if I use Holbein gouache I'll paint better and on and on and on. I did it, sometimes still do. But the one that that actually has made me better at painting and composition is cranking out 5 miniature paintings a week every week since 2018. Now I want to learn figure drawing and portraiture so here I am at Proko. As for the age thing...I started painting landscapes and cityscapes when I was 55, I'm 60 now. I've been in multiple shows, sell regularly and I'm not much good really, but I will be, just need another 10 years or so. That's all anyone really needs - time and commitment. As for self-confidence - even Tom Hanks and Lady Gaga (among so many others) talk about their doubts about their skills. Physicians report an incredibly high rate of self doubt. You aren't alone - power on through. Hemingway used to say that if you keep repeating the same story over and over again eventually it will become true. You are an artist - you got this. I have two sayings posted where they can be seen every day. Day One > One Day "If you're not trying to get better you're going to get worse." - Steve Huston
I went to art school at age 42. In my experience, you will learn slower, in particular when it comes to motor skills, like eye-hand coordination and line quality; also, you may have less energy than the kids around you. However, you will probably learn more efficiently, due to experience with planning and self knowledge, and you are likely to be better motivated than your younger peers. You may run into preconceptions from employers not hiring you: age discrimination does exist, unfortunately...
Hey, @Darren Boyle, welcome aboard! It’s always the right time to start making art. If it inspires you in any way, Grandma Moses (celebrated folk artist) only started painting at age 78. And there are several other artists who never made it until later in life, such as modernist legend Paul Cézanne, who got his first solo show at age 56, and Carmen Herrera, who sold her first painting when she was 89. Gear Acquisition Syndrome must be really challenging. From what I heard, it’s also common among photographers and musicians. I understand how it can be rooted in the desire to become a better artist, and maybe fueled by the belief that you’re “starting late”. Despite all the gear and the books, have you been able to keep a consistent study/practice routine? About lacking self-confidence, feeling mediocre and the sense of wasted time… yeah, anxiety can be a bitch. It often likes to throw judgments and opinions (mostly bad ones) all over our lives. If possible, don’t listen when it “talks” about you as an artist. Try to look beneath the berating and notice how the daily act of pursuing your art dreams and the gradual process of cultivating yourself as an artist make you feel. Other than that, just keep going! Keep making art. Hope this helps.
HIi Darren, I've been told it's never too late ....I recently turned to art in my early 60's. At times I throw my hands in the air and wonder what I am doing......and then I remember, for me it's partly about the journey (being kind to yourself, accepting of mistakes and remembering to look and learn from mistakes). Regularity of actual practise, with great resources (e.g. Proko etc) to help guide you, is the other part. Tools, on their own, e.g. the best digital tablets in the world, the greatest books, the best tutors etc., will not on their own make anyone a good artist .....you have to commit, be the driver and do the hard yards ( and be prepared to suck at it to begin with - teaches us humility and acceptance). I think starting art as an adult is harder than for a person who has been encouraged since early childhood and continued to be encouraged throughout childhood and the teen years. My daughter, who does have a degree in the arts field, is my best supporter. When I scrunch up an art piece she will retrieve it and help me see why I don't like it .......lack of practise, perfectionism (allow time to experiment, which may end up great or disastrous), an 'off day' (the art-gods putting us in our place - happens more often than I like), need to step up to the next step (eg study and practise aspects of anatomy to make those arms look great, shading to create a sense of volume etc). I do feel desponded when I look at her drawings which are so beautiful.....and she reminds me to that she has 20 years of drawing under her belt (she has drawn every day since a tot.....and then she continued whilst being homeschooled - I tried never to tell her to stop doodling!), she has had over 15 years of art instruction etc. On the other hand, I gave up drawing at the age of 12 years of age after showing my lovely piece to a relative. That person ridiculed my drawing of a fine lady, and i was crushed. Consequently, I gave up any idea of being able to produce artworks. My daughter tells me to compare my art in another 20 years from now (assuming I continue to do regular practise and keep moving forwards with learning, and live that long) with her current art. So, we are at the beginning of our art journey. There are many times where it is very frustrating....I recently started going with my daughter to life drawing classes. (Stan would be mortified by my 'gesture' drawings, and I would be mortified to show the models, so hide the scratchings from view). However, the group is so very encouraging (many of them are well- known local artists), even though I get so cranky with myself, that what goes down on paper is not what I thought it would look like. For the first 4 weeks, after (and during) each session, I would think I would not return, but one artist said every attempt is getting you closer to doing what you are wanting to do, if you use it as a guide to what you need to practise (which is everything :-). So now I don't shed a tear after class...instead I see it as a potential step closer. Don't give up ...there's that ancient Chinese proverb "every journey of a thousand miles start with a single step' ....followed by another step and another. Be your own best friend - critique your own work with kindness, as you would with a friend, and look towards how to improve, seeing each art piece as a way to help you move forward. It will take time (a lot of time I'm told!), though it will be worth it.