Thursday 13 May 2010

Have you ‘emerged’ as an artist? Now you're over 30, could you be 'over the hill'?

Recently I started thinking about the term Emerging Artists. I kept asking myself what does this actually mean ? How do you ‘emerge’ ?   Is there an age limit  - is over 30  ‘over the hill’ ? Do you have to win the Turner Prize ? Presumably Picasso ‘emerged’, I thought, but then what about poor old Van Gogh - did he ‘emerge’ posthumously ?  So I Googled the term and found a good blog by Edward Winkelman on the subject, with additional comments about age and the difficulty older artists have to get gallery exposure.

There is a serious gap in the market for the ‘Re-emerging’ Artist or even perhaps the 'Still Emerging' ones. You must understand, I’ve got nothing against young ‘Emergers’, quite the contrary in fact, I am currently rooting for my own ‘emerging’ daughter, but it seems that today it is often really hard for good artists of both sexes over the age of 30 to get their work shown in the key galleries. 

I know that since I was finally able to start working as a full time artist I’ve come across a lot of older women painters with huge talent who are not getting the exposure they deserve. I suspect there are also many women artists out there who, like me, had to hang up the apron and put away the paint brush for a good many years while they worked to pay the bills or bring up a family. So how do they get their work acknowledged?

Women artists were rare in the artistic Hall of Fame and it is largely put down to the fact that, with husbands and children to look after, they couldn’t give the time to focus on their art. (IMary Cassatt made it  but then she never married and had no children).  But the world has changed, for the better in that way, and more or less equal opportunities for women have brought a lot of younger talent into the spotlight in the creative field.

My conclusions on this musing? I think is time for a new art movement for women artists over 30! After all, Grandma Moses (painting above) took up painting when she was seventy- five and painted sixteen hundred paintings by her death at age one hundred and one! A movement that supports and celebrates the work of older women career artists and "re-emergers" and encourages, promotes and explores the opportunities for exhibition both together and individually around the world. My husband rather wittily suggested the name ‘The Old Mistresses’.  However, I prefered the title ‘The New Mistresses’ ! Anyone care to join me ?


  1. I join you Annie with great pleasure...
    very important subject


  2. Luella Glover Wilson13 May 2010 at 16:36

    I'll join you lovely - and I like Anthony's suggestion! I think I would rather be an 'Old Mistress'......... Lue x

  3. I did read the blog. I think the issue is more one of style than age. Right not I have been having the same problem getting into shows that I used to be able to get into--even though my work is better than ever.

    I feel it is because they--the jurors--have seen it already so for them it is not "new". I was just at a show where they were giving awards. Needless to say I didn't get one--and didn't even expect one. But when one of the jurors walked down the aisle it was almost comical how he turned his head away from my work as though it pained him to look at it.

    One of the award winners was across from me. While initially his work looked fresh--at the end of the four day show I had concluded that there was something missing from it--some lack of soul or color knowledge--so that the body of work wasn't there.

    In the end, I feel that we come out as the winners. It is our experience with life that allows us to keep going when our work may be out of favor knowing that sometime the market will again decide that our look is fresh.

    OK--I wrote a lot--posted it as a comment on your blog to keep the conversation moving. Oh well, I need more coffee for that.

  4. So, I guess I'm over the hill ;) I actually enjoy the work of artists who are a little bit older. Women have always intrigued me too. I think we have something special to say...So, I'll join too!

  5. I'm with you! Also check out Women's Caucus for the Arts: The featured artist's art makes me a little uncomfortable, but I'm pretty sure that's my problem.

  6. Hey, I've been 29 for 29 years! And I haven't figured out whether I'm coming or going, let alone emerging or just crawling back under the covers.

  7. I enjoyed reading this article, since I am an emerging artist over 30 and can relate to the frustrations as you do. I've been an artist for over ten years and now teaching and loving every moment.

  8. i couldnt believe you felt like that. i am going through the very same thing at the moment. i went on the dorset arts week and thought your work was brilliant. at least you are exhibiting in galleries. i cant even get into one at the moment. not to say that i havent in the past.
    I am sure a lot of it is not what you know but who you know.
    anyway i thought i would join your blog as i am also on blogspot, and its good to see what all the other struggling artists are saying.
    im sure you will make it, and it seems if you have a definate style, people get to know you and recognise you for it. unfortunately i have a problem with that. and experiment.