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Middle-Aged Artists

Oil painting, study of water lilies

Oil paining, study of water liliesI sit in my studio, with the sound of soft pastels marking on paper in the background, as my friend makes a study of a peach on the other side of the room.  She is finding Art now, as the duties of raising her children near completion.  It helps that she has an eye for composition, being a photographer.  Natural talent makes her a quick student – if I show her something once, she can do it, and she is brave, discovering tricks and technique on her own.

I am realizing that this is a common occurrence.  People spend the first half of their lives doing one or both of two things, earning a living, and raising a family, and then re-discover their creative expression in middle-age.

Oil painting on canvas panel, Cattail Pond at Cessna LandingThis certainly is true in my community.  We have a loosely organized network of women artists here.  One dedicated member, Donnelle Clark, maintains the list of email addresses and the schedule of members’ homes where we meet once a month for potluck and for show-and-tell.  Each member brings one or two things they have been working on, and has 3 minutes to talk about what they have produced.  Weavings, handmade dolls, paintings, quilting, stained glasswork, story-telling and bookmaking, sometimes poetry, you-name-it, are shared in the space of just a couple hours, and I always come away amazed at the creativity.  Most of them, like my friend, have finished raising their children and now have time to devote to creative expression.

I know from my own experience, though, that it takes some effort to overcome inertia.  For about 8 years, I had been receiving the email notices of when and where the local plein air painters’ group was meeting the next Wednesday, always intending to go, someday. For 8 years, there had always been a conflict of some sort or another, and I had always allowed the conflicting event to win out.  In February of this year, I was attending some meetings on Wednesdays for a project I am volunteering for, and when I hesitantly told the chairman I wanted to start plein air painting the next Wednesday in March, she immediately changed our meetings to Tuesdays!  She honored my intention more on one shy request than I had myself for 8 years!

Of course I have to be flexible.  Last week I had to miss painting with the plein air group because I had scheduled the hanging of an art show I was coordinating for A+Art at the local branch of Northwest Florida State College on Wednesday.  I got up early and using a few photo references, painted the study of water lilies (above right) before the show installation.

Today I was again back out with the group, painting at Cessna Landing, on Hogtown Bayou, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida.  The weather was beautiful, with a pleasant soft breeze and only one quick-passing shower that barely spattered us.  My painting from today is above left.

Below are my friend’s studies of a peach.  We worked with the shape, color blending, intensifying color by using compliments in the background, the shape of the shadow, and the importance of small details that identify the subject.  I demonstrated with a quick sketch, and then Leslie produced these two studies.  Her first one we agreed came out looking a little like a tomato, but the second one is definitely a peach.  It’s fun to have such a good student, with natural talent.  Look out, art-world, here comes Leslie Kolovich!

Pastel painting, Study of a Peach, by Leslie Kolovich Study of Peach by Leslie Kolovich