Snapshot: You are in your mid- 60’s, in reasonably good health and like the majority of your age peers don’t go to work on a daily basis. According to insurance actuarial tables, on average you have approximately one third of your adult life still remaining. This is most encouraging news because in all likelihood you can anticipate living another twenty to twenty five years.
However, now is the time to consider this question: how do you plan to maximize these potentially fulfilling years and decades? When you worked, you had to fit in the rest of your life; work was the dominant feature. Suddenly, you have time to decide on the many choices at your disposal. (more…)
When I was almost 60 years old, I asked myself: “How old do I have to be to follow my dream?” I left behind a research career – not to retire – but to launch a new career as an artist. My friends and colleagues were not really surprised. For many years, art had been my passion-on-the-side. I painted on vacations and I sketched during meetings. In fact, professional seminars would often get disrupted when someone noticed my pencil or pen-and-ink portraits of people sitting around the table; everyone would want to look at the sketches and pretty soon nobody would be paying attention to the seminar or committee meeting.
When I was a young woman, I had considered studying art but, somehow, the idea of earning a livelihood as an artist seemed daunting and unrealistic. Instead, I became a social scientist. I got a Ph.D. and specialized in the study of aging. I taught courses and gave lectures; I directed studies; I wrote research articles and books. I won awards for my research and developed a national reputation in the field of aging. My career was intellectually engaging – I had an interesting life.
Then, one day, my husband had a heart attack and that changed everything. He recovered and has since become more physically fit than ever before in his life – he just completed bicycling down the full length of the Mississippi River. Even so, this encounter with mortality made both of us ask: what’s really important? What do we want to do with our time?
I made a decision: I needed to spend some of my life really focusing on art.
Launching my art career was like giving re-birth to myself – in full color. I developed my own technique for reverse painting on glass. Although glass painting is an old tradition, I more or less discovered my own process for painting upside down, inside out and backward on hand-blown glass.
The experience of aging and the passage of time are among my favorite art themes – so I bring together my professional interest in the study of aging, my personal encounter with growing older, and my art. All of my art is colorful and whimsical. For example, one of my glass art works is a series of plates called “The Sisterhood of Sleeplessness.” I’ve noticed that a lot of women are like me – awake at odd hours, 2 am, 3 am, 4 am… These plates show houses at night, with women looking out of their windows – each of us may feel alone, but we are really part of a “sisterhood.” (more…)