Thursdays are my favorite day of the week. Yup! The sheer anticipation of the weekend gives Thursday that extra special feeling. Thursdays are busy days. We cram all our errands like shopping for the weekend, getting hair done and washing the car. We are so productive on Thursdays because the reward is close. Thursdays are “weekend eve.” You made it through the sludge of the week and the promise of something big is right around the corner, even if it is just relaxing.
Life is a bit like days of the week. By the time Thursday comes, we are over 50. We are feeling the pressure and excitement of our older years. We cram in as much as possible. Being over 50 is freeing. We stop caring what people think. Perhaps we’ve raised a family. Now, it’s time for you! Over 50 is a great time to learn new things. It will keep you younger, more engaged, meet new people and how great is it when you lay your head on the pillow knowing that you made the most of your day?
The benefits of making art are worthy of a blog post on their own; suffice it to say, there are many. You will have art to decorate your walls, or give as gifts, leave a legacy or maybe even make some money! There is even a thriving gallery in New York City that only shows art from those over 60! Learning to paint in your older years may seem daunting. You will have so many decisions to make that you may feel overwhelmed. But the good news is, there are limitless resources to help you along the way. It’s easy to go down a worm hole Googling how to start, so here’s a bit of advice from someone who has taken up painting on the “Thursday” of their life. I was 47 when I really started to paint, and this is what I found:
- Keep it simple. Go to a local art store and get a beginner set of whatever medium (watercolor, acrylic or oil paint) you want to try. Michaels, Hobby Lobby or better yet, shop small and visit an independent art store. If cost is an issue, watercolor is the least expensive. Just be sure to get watercolor paper. Acrylic paints dry fast so they are nice for a beginner, however, the fast drying can cause issues if you don’t wash your brushes immediately after using. You may also want to buy a drying retarder to help slow drying time. You can paint acrylic on almost any surface, but a canvas always feels more substantial. Oils are my preferred medium for a variety of reasons, but you will need a few extra supplies. Winsor Newton Winton paints are great for beginners. Get a few brushes. They should be for oil or acrylic. Next, get a canvas or panel that is primed with gesso, so the paint doesn’t absorb. You will need a medium to help the paint flow a little. Liquin is great for a beginner. You will also need a solvent to clean your brushes. I use Gamsol or Turpenoid. Keep your oil paints in the freezer between painting sessions so they won’t dry out. I use a sheet of glass as a palette. Get a palette knife to mix your colors and a straight edge razor blade to clean your palette after each session. You may also want baby wipes and olive oil soap (or Murphy’s Oil soap) to wash hands and give brushes a final wash.
- Decide the style, either abstract or realistic. I am a realist painter, so I won’t attempt to talk about abstract art.
- You will basically paint still lifes, landscapes or people. Painting people or figurative art realistically requires understanding how to draw people. Painting realistically also means some drawing skills, but don’t worry, there are easy ways to work around that if your goal is to just paint something, anything! You can paint from a photo or off a computer monitor, but whatever you paint should be your image, your photography. Using other people’s art or photography is frowned upon and may infringe on copyrights. Copying master’s art like Joaquin Sorolla is admirable; just don’t sell it as your own. Once you determine what you want to paint, you decide if you want to paint from imagination, memory or observation. I paint from observation. Ideally, painting from life. If you want to paint a landscape, going outside and painting plein air is a great goal. It’s good to get familiar inside before venturing outside to paint, though.
- So now it’s time to paint! What to paint? For ease, let’s say an apple. Wait- do you have an apple? Any piece of fruit or a vegetable is a great thing to start. They are an organic shape and there is a lot of latitude if it doesn’t look just perfect. When you start painting (or drawing) you will find that you will constantly compare one thing to another. For example, how long is the stem compared to how thick it is.
- Set aside a few hours when you have energy and begin. You don’t have to show anyone what you are doing. Relax and enjoy this process. Play music that inspires you! Relish the moment that you are creating something. You are doing it! Keep this first painting, because after you have done 10 or 100 you will learn so much that this first little treasure will be priceless.