Whether you decide to pick up a pencil or a paintbrush, sit down at a potter’s wheel, or strap on some dancing shoes, the arts offer countless opportunities for enrichment, fulfillment, and joy.
Many of our most beloved artists got their starts later in life. Monet didn’t get serious about painting until he was in his forties. Forty may be young by today’s standards, but in Monet’s day the average life expectancy hovered around the early sixties, making forty almost “venerable.”
Anna Mary Robertson (aka Grandma Moses), the renowned painter of rural American life, didn’t pick up a paintbrush until she was seventy years-old! Her works are still sought after by collectors today.
But, although it’s nice to know that some senior artists found fame, you certainly don’t have to be a professional to reap the rewards of an artistic practice.
What are the benefits?
Over the decades, studies have shown that engaging in art offers many tangible benefits for individuals of all ages. Expressive art activities help people:
- increase self-esteem
- reduce depression and anxiety
- recover their sense of playfulness
- improve cognition
Since people often practice and enjoy art in groups (classes, workshops, art appreciation tours, etc.), engaging with art can also have the added benefit of providing opportunities for social activities.
Perhaps most importantly, embarking on an artistic journey gives you a valuable chance to reconnect with yourself. It doesn’t really matter which medium you choose – paints, charcoal, clay, beads and wire, the piano, etc. – so long as the experience challenges you creatively and brings you joy.
Ways you can get started
When it comes to art, your options are almost limitless, and getting started might be easier than you think. Here are a few places where you might find inspiration and even a way to take the first step on your artistic adventure:
- Visit a local museum, artist colony, or gallery. Not only will you have an opportunity to enjoy the art of others, you may discover like-minded individuals who are delighted to share information about art-related events or classes. You may also find that the museum or other organization offers classes of their own.
- Visit other local points of interest. Historical and other sites often either have an on-site art component or invite artists to give classes. Explore botanical gardens, wildlife sanctuaries, and other such places to find these kinds of partnerships.
- Visit your local library. In addition to providing access to various art books and magazines, libraries also often host local artists who are either showing their work or teaching.
- Visit local art stores. Retail art stores are an excellent place to meet other artists and learn about local classes and events. Look for a bulletin board or ask a sales clerk for information.
- Go back to school. Many colleges offer free or low-cost courses for seniors. Community colleges often run workshops and other kinds of events as well.
- Join an art club. Perhaps your local senior center has its own art club. If not, you might want to consider starting your own!
- Take a class or workshop. Art classes and workshops can also be found in the classified section of local newspapers and regional magazines. Don’t forget to check shop windows for flyers, too.
- Attend or coordinate an art party. Professional art parties can be found offering instruction on everything from painting to pottery. These casual, low-key outings are great fun for large or small groups.
- Hire a private teacher. Many professional artists supplement their income by teaching privately. In addition to asking at the other locations we’ve already listed, you may want to inquire at your local primary schools about teachers who offer private lessons.
- Go online. The Internet offers an almost endless array of inspiration and instruction on every form of art you can imagine. YouTube is a great place to find videos on all kinds of artistic projects, and individual artists often run online classes.
Pablo Picasso said, “The purpose of life is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.”
While most of us don’t have time to indulge in artistic pursuits while we’re busy building a career, raising a family, or caring for our own parents, we do eventually reach a point at which our lives suddenly have room for art.
Go ahead and give it a chance! You never know what you might discover on your artistic journey.