Lately I’ve been cognitively challenged in respect to painting. I am turning 67 in August so I am wondering if my mind is more confused now. However, artists should always be welcoming the ups and downs in their creative process if they want to be good.
I decided to challenge my challenge by enrolling in a painting class at Lehman College in the Bronx. Now I’m out of my comfort zone and doing a reset as a beginner. My theory is when I’m stuck revert back to being a beginner. Now every Thursday morning I take the crowded BX10 bus and show up at 9:30 am even when my mind says “I don’t wanna”. Even when there isn’t an inspirational thought in my head. I get to the studio and work on a painting project that is dictated by the professor. This gets me out of doing it my way. Humility. Now I stare at a blank canvas with a blank mind. God what can I paint??? I have to paint my first self portrait. Ugh. Just do it Jean. Whatever comes out comes out. So here is my first self portrait in acrylic.
So we all know Grandma Moses as being the most famous woman artist over 50. We respect her talent and giggle about her being a grandmother who was a self taught artist whose art hangs in many museums and auctions for big bucks. I don’t know of any other woman artist so celebrated in this age group. Please feel free and let me know if there are women artists who were successful after the age of 50.
I began showing my art at the age of 56. I came out of a 30 year artist block then. I went back to the Art Students League in NYC to study. The first thing I noticed was some of the male instructors would ignore me but were very helpful to the younger women. Most of the monitors were young men. So I became aware of being a second class citizen. I want to say that I did get enormous support from a small group of instructors with integrity. Thank you Michael Burban, Oldrich Teply, Dean Hartung Max Ginsburg, Barney Hodes.
I did my first group art show of my paintings in the Chelsea Room in the infamous Chelsea Hotel in 2010. That night was very exciting and as I looked around I noticed that I was the only woman artist in the show. And the only artist over 35! But I engaged the younger men and I never thought I was too old. After all an artist is an artist. Now after many years of showing my work I still am the oldest woman artist in group shows. Some of the young artists ignore me and some engage me as another artist. Sometimes they talk to me like a mother.
But the idea of being a creative woman of age has been a bee in my bonnet (talk about an old phrase, yikes!). There is a lot of age and gender discrimination in the art world. However, I push through it and have been successful for 10 years as a professional woman artist (of age). I don’t feel any difference because I’m good at my art and I don’t feel old next to anyone. We are equal with respect to being artists. And I do command respect for my talent. I also respect the talent of any artist.
I will continue to celebrate who I am: a talented ageless woman artist. Never stop pursuing being the artist you are.
Thank you Grandma Moses.