Monday, February 26, 2007

Art and Aging

This great article is used with permission from Surrey, BC, painter Robert Genn. Check out his informative and inspiring website and consider becoming a subscriber.

If your horizons are going coo-coo, if things don't form up as
well as they used to, or you're having trouble finding your
colours, it may mean the advance of painterly senility. Not
fully reserved for the elderly, this can also come about at any
age by doing too much, too little, not looking, not caring, or
not being in touch with your muse.

While beginning artists may do poor work because of undeveloped
skills, mature artists may do poor work because they are losing
facilities. Somewhere in between there's a period of
proficiency and relative fulfillment. Most artists agree that
this middle period should be dragged out as long as possible.
At the same time, most of us have observed aged artists who are
sharp and proficient right up to the last ambulance. Genes play
a part, but it's mostly about attitude and lifestyle.

Success in hanging onto your artistic chops may be hard to
measure, but a related faculty, the maintenance of memory, is
well-documented. Researchers at the Harvard Medical School have
some suggestions for you:

Keep learning. Keep challenging and exercising the brain in
order to stimulate communication between the brain cells. It's
important to keep learning new skills.

Don't smoke. Smoking harms the brain as well as the lungs and
heart. Smokers perform worse than non-smokers in studies of
memory and thinking skills.

Be social. Close ties with others can improve mental
performance. Social relationships provide support during
unpleasant times.

Exercise. What's good for the heart is good for the brain.
Getting your juices flowing gets your creative juices flowing

Eat your vegetables. Even better than fruit, researchers find
that veggies are vital to brain function. It's the vitamin E in
the greens, and the oil in the dressing.

Manage stress. Stress distracts from learning, memory,
thinking, and creativity. With stress, brain chemistry changes
and your hippocampus can become damaged. There's nothing worse
than a damaged hippocampus, I always say.

Best regards,


PS: "I do not wish to become senile before I've finished what
I've undertaken." (Paul Gauguin)

Esoterica: Many creators have given thought to art and aging.
Some have concluded that art itself extends life. "With age,
art and life become one." (Georges Braque) "Great work can come
at any stage." (Will Barnet) "None are so old as those who have
outlived enthusiasm." (Henry David Thoreau) "I cannot die until
I have made the most of my talent." (Kathe Kollwitz) "With
creative work, you don't have age or time." (Louise Nevelson)
"How much music can I make with the time I have left?" (Itzhak
"For age is opportunity no less
Than youth itself, though in another dress,
And as the evening twilight fades away
The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day."
(Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

Current clickback: If you would like to see selected,
illustrated responses to the last letter, "On climaxing," about
getting climaxes into works of art, please go to:

If you would like to comment or add your own opinion,
information or observations to this or other letters, please do
so. Just click 'reply' on this letter or write

Give the gift of the twice-weekly letters. We are currently
snail-mailing a free copy of The Painter's Keys (the book) to
current subscribers who go to the URL below and send us the
names and email addresses of five or more of their
creatively-minded friends. No strings, just a thank-you. We
make it easy. We even send your friends a personal letter to
let them know the twice-weekly connection is from you.

It's never too late. A Premium Listing in the Painter's Keys
Directory is the most effective thing an artist can do to be
tastefully and respectably noticed. This listing--really a mini
web page--costs $100 per year--and we do all the set-up. You
can find out how well it might work for you at

Yes, please go ahead and forward this letter to a friend.

If you think a friend or fellow artist may find value in this
material, please feel free to forward it. This does not mean
that they will automatically be subscribed to the Twice-Weekly
Letter. They have to do it voluntarily and can find out about
it by going to

In compliance with the welcome legislation on spamming, our
mailing address is: Painter's Keys, 12711 Beckett Rd., Surrey,
B.C., Canada, V4A 2W9.

- Subscribe free;

(c) Copyright 2007 Robert Genn. If you wish to copy this
material to other publications or mail lists, please ask for
permission by writing Thanks for your

No comments: