The Seven Ages of an Artist

Seven ages of an artist by Hokusai

At what age, does an artist achieve everything he has desired? Is it when he or she paints the first masterpiece? Well, the question is still unanswered. One day, Japanese master Hokusai was found weeping on his workbench. He believed that he had not learned enough about drawing and that broke his heart.Eight years later, on his deathbed, he cried out that only of he had 10 more years, he may have become a great artist. All of us consider Hokusai a genius, but as per the artist, nothing he made before the age of 70 was any good.

So, how long does it take to become an artist? A whole lifetime should be the precise answer. But what if you die at a very young age like many famous artists? Modigliani died at the age of 35, Géricault at 33 and Seurat was carried off by a virulent illness at 31. Raphael, Watteau and Van Gogh were dead at a tender age of 37. After seeing the fantastic and excellent work they left us with, one can say that they might have painted genius had they lived more. Schiele was dead at 28 and if artists like Gauguin died at the same age, nobody would have remembered him. He painted his first masterpiece at the age of 40 in The Ham.

On the other hand, there are artists who start late like Van Gogh, who started painting after late 20s. With civilization, the pressure on artists increased. They are expected to come up with a singular style and signature work while they are still in college. They are expected to taste success once as soon as possible. Laure Prouvost believes that early success is dangerous. He believes that artists will stop trying early and will be deviated with the early appraisal and lauding.

The logic behind this is that once you get to know what type of work is being liked by people, you feel an unnecessary compulsion to do the same thing again and again. There have been reported incidents of artists confessing that they have had difficulties in coming up with new ideas after the previous ideas were accepted by galleries and potential buyers. The reason behind this might be the fact that money starts driving your notion instead of the emotions.

It is believed that artists evolve with time and that is when you find your true stature. Every single artist is said to have talent at the age of 25, what’s important is to have it at the age of 50 too. At 60, you know that there is more work that has been abandoned than the work that has been accepted. Artists suffer from the same dilemmas and questions to answer in the long run, vis-a-vis, how to raise a family while working, how to keep the income stable while making what they want and most importantly, how to keep the vision, spirit and integrity intact?

One of the greatest painters, Carmen Herrera, shared a brilliant piece of advice recently when she turned 100. She advised the youngsters to not rush in 20s and never stop evolving. She believes that no one decides to be an artist; rather art just gets into you. She never sold her work until the age of 89. She believes that with art, it’s like falling in love. These seven ages of the artist are what actually make an artist.

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