Friday, May 31, 2013

Aging and Art

I don't believe one grows older. 

I think that what happens early on in life is that at a certain age one stands still and stagnates. 

~T.S. Eliot

I've made no secret of my age. I turned 60 in February. Admittedly, I am late to the party as far as beginning this art/illustrator endeavor. While at Spectrum Live, I had some age-related experiences that were a bit revealing. A few times, I was mistaken for Kim Kincaid's mother since I surely couldn't be her. On the other hand, on three different occasions young, eager art students asked me if I would look at their portfolios ( I agreed and sort of faked it). The problem is, I'm the age of many of the professionals who have invested 30+ years in the industry but I'm closer to those students where experience in the field (the lack thereof) is concerned. 

Everyone is the age of their heart.  ~Guatemalan Proverb

Since the "Rising Star" acknowledgement I have been surprised by the supportive emails individuals have kindly taken the time to send me. Most have been from fellow artists who are trying to realize their artistic dreams despite a "delayed" start. Though often discouraged, they keep at it. Jennifer Oliver  (who has had a vast career in the art field) recently emailed me this note that simply made my day:

Kim: I now use you as an example for my students in the 34-65 age bracket who worry that they are "too old" to be starting careers as an illustrator! I don't refer to you as a student to my own students, but as a "rising start illustrator" who started her career a bit later than most. I hear so much whining from students over 30 (and some as young as 26) about it "being too late" for them to seriously work toward attaining their dream job. When I show them your work and the Muddy Colors post about you, then let them know that you're a grandmother who put her career on hold to raise her family for 30 years-that seems to completely change their perspective. They put away their angst and focus on their assignments and goals again. Who knows; your example may be the very thing that keeps them on course and out of a therapist's chair!  :-)

Now I don't know if I've inspired anyone. That certainly isn't the reason for this post. But it was shocking to me that someone as young as 30 might feel they are too old to work toward realizing their dream.

A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams. ~John Barrymore

I do not regret having my family and spending my more youthful years loving and nurturing our children. The life lessons that parenting has given me are priceless. Those experiences have expanded and deepened my emotional threshold and bring a whole different dimension to my art that would be hard to duplicate in a classroom setting or on the job.

“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, 
but their inward significance.”

So what's the point of this post? Age is what you make it. If I choose to make it an issue, it's going to trip me  up. Yes, there might be some Art Director who will make it a problem but the truth is this: 
Ultimately, I will be judged on the strength of my art. And that holds true for every artist, no matter where you find yourself on this world's timeline. 

"There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you."

—Maya Angelou

So come on people, young and old. 
Let's do what it takes to reveal that story within us.  Let's give it "voice".
 There is room for all. 


Suzy said...

As one of the people who wastes too much time regretting my earlier life choices, and getting a late start to my artistic endeavors, I thank you for this, Kim. I should print it out and staple it to my [head] wall.
Now I'll crack open that sketchbook and get down to work!

Laurie said...

This post was just what I needed. I'm 55 and just starting out. Thanks so much. You are an inspiration.

Crystal Cook said...

I love this post Kim. So much. I have never thought that you were late to this game of illustration because you are so incredibly talented I assumed it was just a case of having not found your ideal job yet. I do find you inspirational, most of all for putting your family first and raising your children with all your time when you could have been pursuing your own interests. I hope you get all the success you desire, I know you will because you have a vision and talent that is rare in an artist. Thanks for sharing these thoughts Kim. I'm looking forward to seeing more of your art!!

Brian Burgess said...

I think the pursuit of art post 50+ years is the best way to go. Pursuing a career and raising a family is hard and worthy work and there should be no regret for making those sacrifices for the benefit of others.

Now you, me and others that fall in this "older artist" category can pursue artistic endeavors in a very fresh way, relatively free of the burdens of a young adult life, and (most importantly), with eyes of wisdom that have seen the world in a way that the younger artist can not.

Tammie Lee said...


lovely strand of thoughts and experiences about expressing ones inner passion and age. thank you

Teri said...

Thank you Kim! Love this post. Very timely for this busy artistic mom.

The Art of Kim Kincaid said...

Thank you Suzy. Go forward and learn from those regrets but don't dwell on them. You are making such progress in your work.

The Art of Kim Kincaid said...

Thank you for stopping by Laurie and for your kind comment.
*Thanks to you too, Crystal. You are amazing doing what you do with your young family.
**Well said, Brian and so true. Thank you for commenting. You have been an inspiration to me as I've watched your progress and determination.
***Thank you so much, Tammie.
****Thank you for visiting Teri and commenting. Your work is wonderful.

Kelley said...

As a young person, I was surprised to read about your age, because your work looks very modern and fresh to me.

Did you hear about the latest ad poster for Mad Men? It was painted by a 75-year-old!

Tanja said...

As an almost 50-something who has restarted her artistic career so many times (although I look at it more as choosing different paths along my meandering road of art), I've realized how age is almost meaningless during that journey. But I've also chosen to think that life experiences are always relevant, much as you have, and can bring so much to my art...and your post is an excellent example of that, Kim. :)

Jeanette said...

As close on your heels in age, I believe I've simply taken up again where I left off years ago in art. I've always drawn or painted when the children were small, but never had a studio or time til now.

Of course now, I see more time behind me than ahead of me, so there is always a deadline pressing against me to produce, learn, see, teach etc.

Age is irrelevant except to the young who believe anyone over 30 is ancient :) Life experience adds quality to what we produce and enhances our ability to observe. With grey hair comes respect for experience and knowledge and I use that to share my knowledge and experience with those coming behind me, just as others did for me in the past.

You are right. Its all about the quality of art that you produce, nothing about age. I hear artists say they're too old to approach a gallery, they'll be rejected because of age. No, the only rejection comes from the quality of work. It is the ultimate line.

I will continue to produce the best that I can until some physicality prevents me from doing so. I know you will too. Its within us.

The Art of Kim Kincaid said...

Thank you Kelly. And yes, I did see that illustration but thanks for posting that link. What an example he is.
*Thank you Tanja. With every "restart" I bet you have brought something new to your art. I like to think of those as "pauses" in a continuing process of expression.
**Jeanette, thank you for your words. You said what I wanted to say, only better.

Dottie Leatherwood said...

I think so many of us are on this path. I, too, feel those moments of doubt and feelings of playing "catch up". Thank you for putting your (and all of our) thoughts into words. Beautifully composed as is your art!

Lianne said...

Hi Kim,

I stumbled on your blog while browsing the smART school website, and I'm glad I did. I am embarrassed to say that I fall into the category of "feeling too old to realize my dream" Ms. Oliver described in her email to you. There's this expectation, especially in this instant gratification era, that you need to achieve x by the time you're "insert age here". You are entirely right in that your work will speak for itself no matter what phase you are in your life. And it certainly relaxes me to think that the best I can do is work my own pace to improve my art.

You are incredibly inspiring, and I hope that I can be as courageous as you when it comes to realizing my dreams.

The Art of Kim Kincaid said...

Dottie and Lianne,
Thank you for your kind comments. After posting this, it's gratifying to know there are many of "us" out there striving for our dreams, no matter what our age. Your words have definitely made me feel less lonely. Thank you for stopping by.

Karan said...

Dear Kim,

Thank you so much! Oh, I am so glad that I discovered your blog!
I am a songwriter and a singer - and I started late. The music business is all about youth and appearance, or so it seems. Today was "one of these days" where perspectives seemed dire and my mood was low. Thanks to what you wrote, the tide has now turned!

The Art of Kim Kincaid said...

Karan...thank you for stopping by and sharing a bit of your story. So glad there was something here to help. Hoping you give those words voice. Let them drown out the nay-sayers.

The Art of Kim Kincaid said...

Beautiful music, Karan. Lovely voice too. Wish I spoke your language, but still can feel the conviction and emotion in your voice. You have a gift.