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Retired? Now’s a Great Time To Learn How to Paint

A close up of a senior man painting on a canvas

Paul Cezanne. Mary Delaney. Carmen Herrera. Grandma Moses. Bill Traylor. These renowned artists did not find artistic success until well into their later years. In fact, Bill Traylor did not start painting and drawing until he was 85. And today, Carmen Herrera continues to paint and show her work at 105. A passion for the creative arts does not diminish with age, and if you want to begin your own journey of creative exploration, know that it’s never too late. You can start today.

Express Yourself

Painting is about creativity, and you don’t need to restrict yourself to a certain kind of painting material or surface. When you start learning how to paint, experiment with different materials and techniques; try oils, acrylics, watercolors, pastels, tempera, or a digital platform — you’ll discover that you have a natural affinity for one over the others. There are also many different painting styles you can explore:  Impressionism, abstract art, pop art, realism, surrealism, and so on. As an artist you can focus on a single style, try a combination, or develop your own signature approach.

Find Inspiration

It’s all around you. When you observe people, explore a city, spend time in nature —notice things that catch your eye. Why do you find them compelling — could it be the color? The texture? Do they evoke a memory or an emotion? You can also be inspired to start painting by looking within yourself and examining your culture, history, interests — all the things that make you who you are. Make a point of visiting museums and galleries to see how artists interpret their subject matter. You could also turn to art magazines, books and online artist communities for ideas on color, composition and how to paint.

Get Art Supplies

Stock up on art supplies but keep your choices simple to start — they can be costly. If you’re an absolute beginner, start with a package of basic supplies. You can upgrade later on when you’re certain of the material and technique you’re comfortable with. Depending on your medium, you’ll need these basics:

  • An easel
  • Canvas or paper
  • A palette and palette knives
  • A set of brushes
  • Solvents and containers to hold them
  • Rags for cleanup
  • Five starting colors: red, blue, yellow, white, and one earth tone

Practice the Fundamentals

Whatever discipline of painting you’ve chosen, when you start painting, you must practice the fundamentals of color, value, composition, brushwork and technique. Become familiar with them early on, as they’ll help you understand what is happening when you apply your brush. Attaining mastery of these pillars is a lifelong practice, and as you develop your personal style, they’ll influence every stroke you make.

Engage with Others

Seek out other painters, enter competitions, join a painting group. The more engaged you are, the more inspiration you’ll find. Don’t worry about what others think of your work, and don’t be intimidated by other artists who are more skilled. There will always be someone more technically advanced or knowledgeable. Let others critique your work, but don’t let their feedback be the driver for what you do.

Why Paint?

You are creative, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Humans are creators at heart — it’s through creative expression that we share our thoughts and feelings, communicate across generations, make sense of our life experiences, and leave something of ourselves for the future. Whether through music, dance, photography, sharing stories, cooking, writing — or painting — you’ll be challenged to learn new skills and explore your potential.There are also real health benefits from creating art. A study of art activities for the elderly showed that participants visited the doctor less, required fewer prescription medications, had less risk of falls, and felt happier and more socially connected. Making art increases cognitive function – exercising both sides of the brain and causing you to adapt and restructure your thoughts to come up with something new.

Start Painting Your Masterpiece.

Engage with the creative arts in positive and fulfilling ways at Freedom Plaza. You can learn how to paint in our bright and airy Arts & Crafts Studio, enjoying cheerful conversation and the camaraderie of fellow artists. Our community offers a variety of art and craft activities, and we organize regular outings to galleries, museums and other cultural destinations. What will you try next? From dance to woodworking to writing to gardening, it’s all here. Call us to learn more at 813-280-5009.