Saturday, January 22, 2011

Age and energy

The topic of age was in the air the other night. Listening to NPR, the programs "All Things Considered" and "Fresh Air" were discussing artists and age. A question posed was this: does an artist create more lasting and meaningful works of art because they are advanced in age?

One person mentioned was Monet, who arguably created his best work during his advanced years in his garden at Giverny. Also J.S. Bach, who completed singular works including the B Minor Mass at a point in his late fifties -- advanced age for the 18th century.

While the list of aging geniuses is long, so too is the list of highly accomplished youngsters creating their seminal works before the age of forty.

Does then, the maturity and experience of age surpass the energy and risk-taking of youth when it comes to art? Ironically, the question may be itself a victim of infancy. Consider that only in the last 80 or so years has the average life expectancy increased beyond fifty. A relatively short amount of time in the history of human artistic endeavors. In short, we maybe haven't been living long enough yet to arrive at an accurate evaluation.....and does it even matter.....

I suppose I found this interesting because it hits so close to home for me. Here I sit in front of an easel, embarking on a new artistic life at the age of 46. I sincerely hope my best work is in front of me.

"Watermelon and plums" 9x12, oil on canvas panel


  1. Well, all I can say is "WOW!" William. You have visual art in your head and heart just waiting to get out along with your music. What a change from the pre-instruction still life to the one's you're doing now. I, too, heard that NPR program on my way back from painting at the GC. Started painting at age 47 and now nearly ten years later, I hope I live long enough to produce my best work. A fine artist is never finished learning, I say!

  2. Very true, Dawn. Being in service to the art for me is all about the study process.

    And thank you...I'm trying to follow your example!