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This post is by Stapleton Kearns, a professional oil painter living in New England. He is a member of the Guild of Boston Artists and a past president of the Rockport Art Association. He has been painting landscape full time for thirty five years. He has a blog at http://stapletonkearns.blogspot.com/ . You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.
What do you think about a (young-minded) guy like, 59 years old, who wants to quit work? and paint full time, and live, like, the artist's life? Is it too late to make it as an artist?, and will galleries and collectors take me serious, or are they only into young artists ? I have a good paying job as a meter reader, so I would be losing a lot of, you know, job security? Man, I'm so over this! its just getting too weird out there, somebody set a leg hold trap under their meter, down in the container docks last week. I gotta get me a new line of work! I also hear artist dudes get to meet a lot of girls who think they're hot!
signed; Slick O'Toole
No, I don't think the way to go is to just quit your job; particularly in this economy. I think you should try to gradually replace your job. I had a friend who, years ago, worked in the printing trade. One year for his birthday he was given an oil painting set. It sat unopened for a while, until one night he decided to try to make a copy of a poster of palm trees from some tropical island. He went to work and at about 2:00 in the morning his wife came downstairs to find out why he hadn't come to bed. After that, every night he was up late painting and painting, it excited him so much. That summer he did an outdoor show and sold a couple. He spent the evenings of the next couple weeks preparing for the next big outdoor show. He sold out at the second show. All the next winter, every evening found him, painting to be ready for the summer outdoor shows. When summer came the next year he was doing shows, and painting, and dragging himself into his day job. One of his buddies, annoyed by his lack of enthusiasm for his job, asked "What's the matter with you? Stayin up all night and painting instead of sleeping?" Our artist friend answered angrily, "Yeah? Well I made more money last week painting than I did in this lousy job!" "Then Whattaya doin here?" his friend asked. He quit.
Now, our artist had plenty of lean times after that in the art business, but he did succeed. He left his job when it no longer made sense for him to keep it. For him, it began to make as much business sense to spend his time painting as it did working his job. So unless you have a couple of years income stashed, or are married to a thoracic surgeon, don't just jump in; the water is deep and fast moving. You want to learn to swim a little first. Most people cannot make it as an artist, that's a cruel fact. You wouldn't quit your job to be a concert violinist would you? Do you think being a professional artist is any easier? You need to prepare and perfect your skills.
As for your age, age can work for you or against you, but if a dealer believes he can make money selling your art, he will handle it. If the collectors find it compelling, they will buy it; whether you are thirteen or ninety five.
I don't know that artists get lots of girls. In fact, all of my guy friends ended up with only one. Pretty much all the artists I know, men and women, are disciplined, hardworking types with homes and families that depend on them. Wannabes have all the fun! If you want to party, then party. If you want to be an artist, make art.
But, girls LOVED me when I was young; they imagined I was sensitive. ;-)