How to Break Though Creative Block and Start Painting After 60
There is one excellent reason for trying a creative workshop. There are others of course, but this one beats them all. Know what it is?
You know that feeling before you give a talk or go on stage for the first time? Maybe you had this at work or even from your school days. Those butterflies-in-the-tummy feelings. Unpleasant at the time. But moments like that have the positive effect of getting you out of your comfort zone.
Comfort is Not Confidence
I was reminded of this lesson at a painting workshop recently. I was excited and happy to present the class. As I worked with each artist in turn it struck me how many were so nervous about their work.
Then, after some positive feedback and direction each nervous artist grew in confidence. It was almost palpable as the energy levels increased. The can-do spirit took over and everyone was starting to do new and interesting work. By the end of the day I was tired but gratified. Each artist was leaving with a smile and renewed commitment to their art. Mission accomplished.
The takeaway is that being comfortable does not make you confident. Only through facing fear and pushing through that do you achieve confidence. Each time you are put on the spot it is natural to be nervous, but you know that you can push through if you try. That is confidence.
Age Does Not Make You Confident
Many of my art students are retired. Almost all start their lessons nervous. Even those who had demanding jobs feel this way when they reveal their art to others for the first time. I am reminded that each day is new despite our age. It follows that each new day can challenge us with new experiences. This is how confidence continues to grow. Before long you will be trying something new once again.
Address these Challenges to Start Painting
If you feel the creative pull or feel slightly curious about art then listen to that voice. It is not an accident. It is the same curiosity that propels a child to the box of crayons, blocks or poster paint. Even after decades of ignoring or putting off the voice it still talks to you. The challenge is not to start creating. The challenge is to overcome the fear of leaving your comfort zone. A purely fictional state built up over years of adulthood.
Overcoming Other Emotional Blocks
One lady at my course had recently lost her husband. She was now in her 70s and missed her husband very much. A friend encouraged her to try painting again. She joined the class at the last minute and struggled a bit with her first painting. Added to this she was using oil paints, which can be intimidating for new artists. With gentle encouragement she started her second painting of the day. Her completed painting dazzled us all with bright, confident impasto. She had made the switch in her mind. Just do it!
Those are priceless moments of tremendous personal power. You cannot underestimate your creative ability. Especially if you are going through a rough time in your life.
Art Gives You Immediate Feedback
This is the great part – the immediate feedback. There is no wasting time with art. What you see is what you get. Action gets you results straight away. No more excuses, procrastination or bluffing yourself. Art rewards commitment, positive energy and a creative spirit. All qualities that will make you feel good and grow your confidence. As my wife says, art is the cheapest and best therapy in town.
Now comes the crunch time. To everyone who hears the creative voice, but worries about trying something new; ask yourselves this: How many challenges have you overcome in your life? Plenty right?
Now starting a painting is as simple as dipping a brush into some paint. I can assure you of this too. Everyone loves putting down that first brushstroke. See for yourself.
To the experienced artists it is about trying new things. Different techniques, subjects and places of inspiration. But more about that in my next article.
Your Free Guide
I have developed a short and fun course to help new artists begin their journey. In the course, I encourage artists to begin with acrylic paint and then move into oils. This way, you can complete a painting – a process that would normally take a few days – in one day. Paint along with step-by-step video lessons. Then apply the lessons to your next painting. You can find out more and begin this course right here.
Work with Others
A next step is to join any local artist workshop or friends who want to meet and paint together. Although painting solo is great, joining a group is also a way to bond with others without having to try too hard. Above all else, take it easy and be gentle with yourself.
Improvement comes with practice. The way it has always been. Old school. The way I like it.
Are you feeling more creative in your 60s or not feeling confident enough to get started with a painting hobby? Do you worry about starting something new? Please share in the conversation.
Malcolm Dewey is a professional artist and writer. He is passionate about painting in oils and watercolor. Malcolm loves landscape painting. He teaches painting to artists of all levels. Working online on his website and in personal lessons Malcolm helps other artists paint better with structured painting lessons. His Facebook page can be found here.