18 Considerations for Making Art at a Certain Age


Lack of energy can be a deterrent to pursuing your art. Here are some thoughts on going ahead anyway.

1. Work during your best time of day or night. Reserve that time for art. Rest and goof off, or do what recharges you the rest of the time. Is there some rule you have to work during all your waking hours, or all day?

2. You have more energy than you think you do. Getting absorbed in the work gives you energy. Doing it certainly takes some away, but not as much as you might have imagined. You could easily have been nearly as tired at the end of the day NOT doing your art.

3. So work tired, or sore, or whatever condition "keeps" you from going ahead. If you are passionate enough, you can easily ignore some ache in order to advance a project.

4. If your art feels like the thing your whole life has been leading up to, then you must be reasonably accomplished at it. You must have the skills, background, practice and ear/eye training required. Those things make it easier to do your art now than it was when you were younger. With that big box of tools in your hands and head, what used to take you a day may now take half a day.

In other words, you used to get n good items working hard for x days. Now you can get the same n items working x/2 days, or x days at half time.

5. Rely on your instincts more. Rely on your physical stamina less. You'll get better results anyway.

6. Yes, you'll get tired. Manage it. Work when you are rested, and rest after you've done a half day or most of a day. You are accomplished, so you don't need to spend every waking hour working and reworking.

7. You got tired when younger, too. You just don't remember it very well. Nostalgia effect. Perhaps when younger you could borrow on tomorrow's energy, then collapse the next day. That method is not required, is it?

8. Get the sleep you need. Most of the time tired people just don't sleep enough. Some people need 9 or 10 hours. Arrange it.

9. Use what you've learned already. Having started with very little knowledge and wobbly skills, you may think you always have to learn and improve, every day. That was true for a while. Not now.

10. Tell the truth. Isn't doing your art easy for you? Well, "easy for you" does not mean you aren't trying hard enough. It means you, and only you, can perform the tasks easily. "Easy for you" does not mean the result is mediocre or low in value. Could James Taylor sing better than you without even trying? Of course. You can do your thing easily and extremely well by this time. Chill out and do it.

11. Use whatever crutch helps you do the work more easily. Painters often lean their brush hand on a stick, because that's easier than hovering their brush hand in midair for hours. Maybe you can set something up that helps you in a similar way. I use a monopod to steady my framing.

12. Take a break, for goodness sake. Those writers and artists of the 1920's in Paris sat around in cafes for hours at a time, drinking and nattering on. They got the work done, somehow, between visits to the cafes and wild parties.

13. Hang out with your artist friends more. They give you energy, just as you give them energy.

14. If necessary, do your work in stages. Rather than work until you run out of steam, plan it a little, and do one part before knocking off for the day. Come back and do step 2 the next day.

15. Get the best tools. Fighting with your tools wastes time and energy, and sometimes materials. The best lens, microphone, brush, etc. will pay you back. You're old now, so you have a couple of bucks for this kind of thing, at least more than you did 20 years ago.

16. Use the best materials for your purpose. Spend a little time investigating, if necessary, to determine which materials work most easily for you. This task alone could save you weeks of work.

17. Remove the obstacles. Identify what objects, people, attitudes or ideas are stopping you. One by one, forcibly remove them from influencing you. It could be as simple as reducing the furniture load in your work room, or as complex as arranging elder care.

18. Old or not, only you can do what you do. And you can't do it dead.

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