How Next Avenue Readers Are Aging Artfully

Take a look at their works and insights on being creative later in life

Part of the Vitality Arts Special Report

When we asked our readers to Show Next Avenue What You Do in the Arts and tell us about it, we were confident we’d get some good responses. But as with our six-word memoir challenge, you blew us away with insights, inspiration and, yes, interesting creative works that spoke to the importance of engaging in the arts as we age.

We heard from writers and musicians, ceramicists and painters. We heard from people on the East Coast and West Coast and points in between. We heard from those who found inspiration in the beauty of nature and those who found it in the bustle of cities. We heard from beginners, lifelong artists and those who had rediscovered a childhood passion in retirement.

“As a child I liked to draw and color, and after I was married I took adult ed painting classes at our local high school,” wrote Donna Farrell of Minoa, N.Y., who listed her age as 65+ and added: “Painting is fun, relaxing, challenging. I guess it just helps me enjoy life a little more!”

Susan Apel of Lebanon, N.H., shared her story of becoming a writer after 35 years as a lawyer and professor. She now blogs about the vibrant arts scene of the Upper Connecticut River Valley and writes creative nonfiction. “It’s a new experience,” she says. “After a successful career in law practice and teaching, I wanted to know that there are still ‘firsts’ in this stage of life.”

At 64, Rory Loew of Los Angeles, told us, “I’m learning to play the ukulele and oil painting.” But he has his limits: “I dance only when I am alone and sing in the car only when I’m alone.”

Another musician, Joe Dubinski of Glendale, Ohio, likes being able to focus more on his artful side now that he is 63. “Although I enjoyed my career in business, music was always my passion. Someone said that you work at your vocation so you can afford to pursue your avocation,” he wrote. “Now that I am retired from the business world, it’s time to pursue my avocation: music and entertaining.”

Afi Scruggs of South Euclid, Ohio, grew up playing gospel piano but always wanted to learn bass. In 2009, she finally did. “Playing bass is the fulfillment of a dream. And it’s also made me appreciate my age and maturity,” wrote the 61-year-old who now plays regularly for her church. “I know my age, gender, and race make me a role model. I can’t tell you how many women have approached me saying, “I’ve always wanted to (fill in the blank). I answer with a question: ‘What’s stopping you?’”

Check out the slide show below for more works and wisdom from Next Avenue readers who aren’t letting age — or anything else — stop them from pursuing their passion. And please tell us — and show us — how you are aging artfully by submitting your original art and telling us about it here


By Heidi Raschke
Heidi Raschke is a longtime journalist and editor who previously was the Executive Editor of Mpls-St. Paul Magazine and Living and Learning Editor at Next Avenue. Currently, she runs her own content strategy and development consultancy.@heidiraschke

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