Still Arting


Sunflower Bouquet, acrylic, 16″ x 12″

This past week I participated in the Art is Ageless show at the Presbyterian Manor in Lawrence.  This art show is an annual event and anyone who is a senior citizen can enter, not just residents of the Manor.  There are a number of categories including needlework, such as quilts or embroidery.  The categories for paintings are either amateur or professional.  But all professional means is that you occasionally sell your work.  This year I won a second place ribbon for the above painting.  The person writing their newsletter interviewed me before this show because I had won a best of show ribbon last year.

As a senior citizen this was a good show for me to enter because it was near where I lived and only required me to deliver two paintings.  Best of all, although I could have entered by computer, I didn’t have to.  I could just hand in a form filled out by hand when I delivered my paintings.  They didn’t even charge an entry fee.  Of course there was no prize money either, which may be whey there are not very many entries, although I’m sure Lawrence must have many senior artists.

Often artists keep making art long after the age of 65.  In fact some take it up in retirement.  The Artist magazine also recognizes this with an annual contest for senior artists.  A problem for senior artists is not so much the making of art but showing it.  The time when I could lug many paintings to an outdoor show that might last a couple days, find help to put up a tent, and sit out there in all kinds of weather is past.  I now only do one outdoor show, Art in the Park in Lawrence, which does not involve long travel and only last a half a day.  Also, this show still allows people to enter by submitting photographs.

A major difficulty for senior citizen artists is entering art shows.  They almost all require computers not only for the form and to pay the fee but also to submit images of one’s art work.  Some seniors don’t even have computers.  Others, like me, have them but only use them for a few simple things.  I haven’t found the help categories on my computer very helpful.  Sometimes my husband can figure it out.  My son who knows the most about computers lives too far away.

If you are planning an art show in your community, also make it friendly to older artists.   Let people enter either by computer or by snail mail with photographs and a check.  If the show, either indoors or out, is the kind where each individual brings a number of paintings, maybe have a few younger people available to help those who are less able.  As we share what we are creating we may also encourage others to keep on keeping on.


Art and the Senior Citizen

March 17, 2013

I’ve noticed lately that there is more recognition of senior citizen artists as a category. Two different retirement communities in Lawrence, Presbyterian Manor and Drury Place, are scheduling art shows for senior citizen artists. These artists don’t have to live in the residences but their art must have been produced during the artists’ senior years. I’ll be entering both of these. Also, during the last several years Artist Magazine has featured a competition for senior citizen artists in one issue a year.

While I have occasionally seen a feature article in an art magazine on young or emerging artists, usually artists aren’t defined by their age. They are defined by their work. I’m not sure why senior artists are being featured. Maybe because there are more and more of us becoming seniors as baby boomers age and life expectancy has increased. Also, art is an unusual occupation. While many in other lines of work look forward to ending their careers at age 65 or before, often artists are becoming more active in their chosen field as they age because their children have grown and they have retired from the job that supported them and their art.

This week I have experienced another happy aspect of art and the senior citizen. Some senior citizens now find they have the time and resources to become art appreciators and collectors. I spoke recently with a very enthusiastic senior woman who had bought a small painting of mine from the Topeka Art Guild Gallery several months ago. This week she came to my home to see more of my paintings and bought another one. She said she had very recently begug to collect art and was filling her walls with paintings. What artist wouldn’t like to meet more people like that.

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.