And what is too old? ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ This newsletter is about drawing. It goes out every Friday. Want to draw? Then check out my free workbook!

#28 - Are You Too Old To Become An Artist, And Are There Benefits To Starting Creating Art Later In Life?

And what is too old?

FREE Drawing Exercises Workbook

Reference image used in video: Eduard Isaac Asser, RP-F-AB12280-A , courtesy Rijksmuseum Amsterdam.

In this video, I am using a free online tool that I created. It allows you to select a photo reference to practice drawing from, which is, of course, nothing new.

What is new is that you can see your drawing through the camera on your mobile with the reference image transparently overlaid over your drawing.

This camera view allows you to see where you deviated from the reference. You can freeze the image, save it, and then use it to “fix” your drawing.

You can try it out for yourself here:

Augmented Reality For Artists!

You often hear people ask if they are too old to start making art. Here are my thoughts on that.

First of all, making art is fun! How can you be too old to have fun! Making marks is something a ninety-year-old can enjoy as much as a two-year-old!

There are reasons you could think that you are too old.

For example, you often hear about people who started when they were a child, and they are therefore ahead when it comes to skills. This is true but only up to a level. Certain things you only learn through instruction. Composition is one example. I mentioned before that comics artists are often self-taught, and they often started copying Spiderman and Batman as a child, but you can often see in their work that they lack composition skills.Another reason you might think you are too old is that you think you’ll learn slower. This, again, is true to an extent. But I am finding that there are certain things you pick up more quickly as you get older. With age, your brain understands things and relates them to the knowledge you already have.

Piaget had a famous experiment where he would take a tall glass of some drink and pour that drink from that high glass into a low wide glass in front of a child. Then they would ask the child which glass they preferred. Children below two thought the tall glass had more, and after about that age, the children could grasp the concept of conservation of volume.

Our brain becomes better at understanding things with time.

When my daughter was getting swimming lessons, I was able to swim near them, and I would hear the instructors give the children tips. These tips, I could see, were way over their heads as they were still grappling with the novelty of being in water in the first place. But I picked up these tips, and they made me a better swimmer.

With the wisdom we gain over the years, we become better at relating new ideas to ones we already hold in our heads.

I was afraid that maybe I could not improve my hand dexterity as much as a younger person. It turned out that I needed to learn to slow down and that warm-up exercises can be great for improving your hand dexterity in a relatively short time.

There are sometimes things you are better at when you’re younger.

Athletes tend to be young for obvious reasons: the human body just performs better when we’re younger.

The most famous mathematicians tend to have come up with their discoveries in their early twenties—an age some might already find late when considering starting making art. Still, for mathematicians, that is at the beginning of their career.

Musicians, similarly, usually composed the music they became famous for early in life.

Another thing that might factor in is that if you want to become an artist represented by a gallery, it is helpful to be young because the gallery owner will invest in you. They might potentially reap more rewards from that investment if you have a long career ahead of you.

One advantage of starting early in life is that, over the decades, you tend to work on a wild, eclectic mix of projects. You try out many different approaches and try out many other working methods or even other art forms.

I learned to program when I was ten. Over the years, I have made many different types of software for many kinds of computers in many types of programming languages. I can take many different approaches when it comes to programming. It is easy for me to switch between the methods. I noticed that people who had just started to program generally gravitated to one way of working, one programming language, one library, and they tended to stick with that, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

I love art by artists who have spent decades in search of something. You can see that in their work, and I feel that makes their work more interesting. Each piece is one in a long line of experiments the artist tried.

I started drawing relatively late in life, and you can see that I mostly stick to one approach: I draw in line primarily.

A reason NOT to start when you’re young is that it is easier to get suckered into bad contracts. As you get older, you get to know the lay of the land a bit, and you will be less likely to be bullied into signing a bad contract. “It’s just an industry-standard contract! Everyone signs it!” Many very young musicians ended up in bad deals with record companies in the past.

It can also sometimes be good to start late. For example, you tend to have more life experience when you have lived longer. This is advantageous when you write stories. You have gathered more wisdom, gained a better understanding of the human condition, and you have more stories to tell because you lived longer.

This is not to say young people can not write! Everyone should start keeping a journal as early in life as possible. But there can be an advantage to also writing later in life.

So, are you too late to start making art? There are advantages and disadvantages to starting early or late in life, but the key thing you should take away from this is that art should first and foremost be something you enjoy doing.

And how can you be too old for that?

My Favorite Drawing Exercises

Today, just doodle and ask yourself if you are too old for that.

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