Retirement Different for Artists

Jan. 28, 2012

At the place where I go for physical therapy, another patient heard the therapist call me by name and then asked me if I was the person who had done the painting of Clinton Store hanging in the hall.  I said that I was.  He could tell that the painting had been done some years  before,14 actually, because the store had since deteriorated considerably.  We got to talking and he asked about where some of my other paintings might be hanging.  I told him and also mentioned that I would be showing my paintings at Art in the Park in Lawrence the first Sunday in May.

“Oh, are you still painting?” he asked.  That seemed such a ridiculous question to me.  Unlike other occupations, about the only reason artists retire is if they are too physically disabled to continue.  Yes, retirement years are definitely different for the artist and there are some wonderful descriptions of them in the March 2012 issue of “the Artist’s magazine.”  This issue features 10 winners in the magazine’s annual Over 60 Art Competition.  The winning paintings and short biographies of the artists are included.  The article is titled “At Their Peak” and begins, “The winners of our Over 60 Art Competition are joyfully obsessed now that they’re free to devote themselves to making art.”

The truth is that most artists can’t make a living doing what they feel compelled to do.  So they must support themselves in some way while also raising families.  That doesn’t leave much time for art.  Even those who find employment in commercial art may long for the time when they can produce their own vision.  Providing one’s health remains relatively good, retirement offers the opportunity to finally devote large chunks of time to what they love doing.

So if you look longingly back on your days as an art student or have always thought that art was something you wished you had time for, it’s not too late.  As family responsibilities lessen, begin taking art classes.  Join an art association in your community and get to know other artists.  Attend their exhibits.  And when it is time for you to retire you will be filled with joyful possibilities for a brand new life.

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