As if dealing with sexism in the arts isn’t enough, older women face another ism that gets little attention, ageism. Older women artists continue to be overlooked, ignored or presumed past their prime or ability. Our objective is to bust the stereotypes and showcase the art life of women over 50, women whose passion and exploration in the arts is as vibrant and as exciting as ever.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Dianne Collinson : A Yellow Springs Ceramic Artist

Nancy and I had the pleasure of visiting with Dianne Collinson at her Yellow Springs Home and Ceramics Studio. When we walked into her house what stuck us immediately was Dianne's wonderful sense of design. Everywhere we looked there was something to catch our eye or interest. Even in the kitchen functional ceramic art pieces displayed on the open shelves beckon the eye, as well as a her beautiful ceramic backsplash, which is one of Dianne's earliest pieces

Over coffee and home baked sinfully delicious desserts we asked Dianne a few questions.

What’s the stereotype in your mind of an older woman? 
Ceramic Studio Entrance
The women in my family never tell their age, and we are all complicit in this. Perhaps that comes from a fear of being stereotyped, or perhaps vanity. On occasion someone has been “outed” when they are really, really old and the disclosure has never made that woman happy. Lately I have been trying out the word “old” a lot when referring to myself. It is kind of an experiment to see if the word will lose its power if I use it a lot. So far it hasn’t.

Do you also have a stereotype of an older woman artist? 
This is interesting. When I visualize women artists I admire, they are all mature women, women of a certain age, looking very settled into themselves. Think of it. Georgia O’Keefe, Louise Bourgeois, Eva Zeisel, Lucy Rie, Fannie Nampeyo. Some might have been seen as little old ladies, but all were vital working artists right up until they died. I think the work, the designing, the making may have helped them all live long, productive and artful lives. That, and maybe having a nice young man around the studio to help out. I can aspire to all of that.
Have you ever felt stereotyped because of your age? 
I have felt minimized, not seen, and ignored at times. Sometimes it has seemed as if younger people I have worked with have projected a teacher or parent image toward me and have acted as if I was that person. But really, I am of the rock and roll generation. I share a birthday with Janice Joplin. I am the same age as Mick Jagger. That puts  things back into perspective for me. I can still rock.
Describe someone who busts that myth for you.
My grandma Rozeboom. She was born in the late 19th century in a lumber camp in Michigan, became a circuit rider in the high planes, married a widower and had 4 children on the barren acres of North Dakota, and then moved to California in a Model T where the family started a chicken ranch. She stayed there until her 90’s and continued to keep a fine garden and live independently until she had a stroke in her late 90’s. She always looked like a stereotypical older woman, her long white hair always in a braided bun and a plain, button front housedress, but she was so strong and capable… and could still touch her toes at 95. Although fundamentally religious, I know that at her core she knew that women could do everything that men could.

Have people assumed that you wouldn't like some kind of art because of your age?
Not really. Much art innovation occurred in the 20th century by artists older and weirder than me. 

Have you ever experienced a bias against you or your art because of your age or gender? 
I think all older people experience degrees of bias because we live in an age which seeks the 18-48 year demographic. But I have never experienced bias against my art. And actually I was hired in an art related, creative and physically demanding job after retiring from my long time 9-5 job. Maybe because I’m still deceptive about my age.

What kind of art do you do?
Until recently I never used the term artist to describe myself. I have used my hands to make things since I was little. I am a builder, a user of tools, a problem solver, a seamstress, a weaver, a painter, a decorator, and I have always tried to achieve an artful result in my making. Now my medium is clay. It is my favorite pursuit to date.
studio sign
Has the aging process made working on your art different, harder? 
Yes. It keeps getting harder. Clay work requires a lot of heavy lifting. It’s very physical.

Have you made adjustments or tried new ways of working because of aging?
Yes. I can’t do all the physical stuff I used to. I have to ask for help or figure out how to break tasks down into manageable size. I have to limit myself to 25 # of clay to carry in rather than just lifting the 50 # box. I don’t like these limitations.

What advice would you give young artists? 
Don’t censor yourself. Just make. I don’t always take my own advice.

What have you learned from being an older artist? 
Younger is better.

Is it any better than when you were younger? No. See above. 

portrait of artist
Do you see yourself being able to keep doing art as you age? 

Is it still fun? 
I wouldn’t ever call it fun. It’s a lot of trial, error, frustration, overthinking, etc. but when everything is working and there is flow, it is just the best feeling there is.

What do you enjoy the most about creating art? 
Just that. The process when everything is clicking.

Dianne's WEBSITE
Dianne's work can be found at Village Artisans at 100 Corry Street in Yellow Springs

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Step Into the Wonderful World of Artist Kathy Verner Moulton

 Yum!  Kathy Moulton greeted us with a plate of killer brownies waiting on her table and started steaming mocha lattes for us.  This was going to be a delicious interview! 

Kathy had designed her beautiful, open living space to be inviting and comfortable.  There are rocking chairs and a wood burning stove,  art-deco lamps sending warm golden light and a wrap around screened in front porch that you can get to from the living room. She has had decades of experience drawing house plans. Take a drive around Yellow Springs with Kathy and she can point out houses all over the Village that she drew the plans for.
From designing the stained glass in her front door, to the quilts on the wall, to the cozy breakfast nook surrounded by glass that looks out over the pond in the back yard, her creativity is everywhere. 

In her 20's-40's, while singing and playing the guitar in local venues, she had a traveling business that taught crafts to kids, while raising her own 2 kids and setting type in code for Bingenheimer Design.   She learned to weave and quilt and made most anything she set her mind to.

Kathy had filled out our questionnaire with thoughtful replies and you can read her answers a little farther down.   But first, we sat down to enjoy the lattes and brownies and asked a few more questions. When we asked - how do you want to grow as an artist?- she quickly mentioned learning to use an I Pad Pro and then after reflecting, she told us a long time dream -to do a cartoon animation. She had loved the Disney Movies from the time she was a kid and always wanted to be part of that.  She also thinks it might be fun to learn to sculpt her characters out of clay.

We asked her about how she got new ideas?  She said it usually had been out of a need.  Need?  I wasn't sure what she meant by that. She went on to say “When I wanted something for my house, stuff for my kids, I couldn't afford to go out and buy it.  If I wanted wall art, I needed to make wall art.”  Kathy is very good at figuring out how to do things.  She has been mostly self taught all her life, in all the skills she uses. She took a one quarter course to draw house plans and then learned much more as she went.  The same with her abundant skills on the computer, she uses her drawing skills and the computer with the techniques and shortcuts she has discovered and perfected, for her own way of creating.

When it comes to creating, Kathy says she's a loner.  She quietly works out of her home studio.  (She has described herself sometimes as the “Not So Vocal Local”) But to balance that she has reached out into different Community Art Groups.  She is a member of Village Artisans, a Yellow Spring's Artist Co-op and she is on the Gallery Committee with the Yellow Springs Arts Council.  She is also part of the  Stewardship Committee that takes care of the YS Arts Council Permanent Collection.  She has designed quite a few art logos for different projects and created the visual art for the YS-Opoly Game Board and Cover. Currently you can see her beloved corgi artworks in the new Yellow Springs  Mills Park Hotel  

“Art is my escape, otherwise I would sit around and worry about everything.”  That sounds like the best stress buster ever-Make Art!

Thank you Kathy for the delicious interview!

It is just who I am. I am a person who expresses myself by creating things. I wouldn't know what to do with myself if I didn't make art. My works are usually funny or pretty; something to hopefully make myself or someone else smile. It balances the dark things in life.

I create humorous images which I frame or print as note cards and I have illustrated and published my own children's stories and a memoir of Yellow Springs. I draw and paint digitally creating many layered images which I then can print out on an inkjet printer. I have also worked in many other areas, some I occasionally still explore.
Models for corgi art are her beloved corgis Miss Molly and Jasper aka Jazz
I have drawn realistically as well as whimsically with pencil and pen and I have painted with watercolor inks as well as acrylics. I did experience pastels and oil paints in school.

I worked in home design, reworking our own house as well as designing an apartment for my Mom. I had my own business for 15 years drafting plans for houses for individuals and local builders. I most often drew the building plans as specified by the builder's or home owner's, but often, when needed, I would create solutions for designs.

I have always been a person who sews. I have sewn in order to make clothing and household items like curtains and quilts, but I have also designed wallhangings and original stuffed animals as well as dolls I called "Yellow Springers".

I have been a weaver, working on a large countermarsh loom, creating with colored yarns to make shawls, blankets and rugs.

I have worked in collage, at one point using it to create the illustrations for one of my children's stories.

I do not remember ever not doing art. I had a bulletin board in my room I used to decorate like the ones we did at school. My family made egg heads out of dyed hard boiled eggs at Easter. I sewed doll clothes and made clothespin dolls from a McCalls magazine for Christmas decorations. I was always making art.

Both. It has not been a money making career until recent years and even then you could not live off the income. It is more like breathing.

I think I enjoy most that point when it all starts to click. When the idea starts to gel and I can see that I am getting it; it's working. This often follows right behind moments of doubt and frustration, when I maybe step back for a minute and then all of a sudden it is like a window has been opened. It is very exciting.


No. It is just whenever I have the time to work. Wherever I can fit it in.

Yes. Age has brought confidence and more self assurance. I now believe I will come up with something; that I can trust it is there. That I can trust in my ability and that it will be good. I have also found that with the way I have learned to work on the computer. I don't have to second guess myself and get hung up on right or wrong. I can easily start over, or try a new tact. I work in layers, creating my characters and props and scenery separately and together. It is easy to try one direction and then another without losing anything. It is very freeing.

computer art
I think that not everyone understands what I do. The idea that I am working on a computer I believe makes some people think the computer is generating the art. I switched from painting on paper with ink to the computer after years of drawing house plans. I found I could paint so much more freely and I kind of found my own way of doing it in Photoshop. I think some might think it is a trick rather than understanding that I am drawing and painting. It just isn't messy. I suppose younger people may have more experience to understand more. I really haven't seen age or gender making a difference.

I don't see that gender or age bias has affected me. I imagine if I were working in a design studio somewhere I might feel some. I think women at any age feel a bias in the workplace. However I have worked at home in my own studio in Yellow Springs at my own pace. I have sensed bias against that fact that my work is happy/cute. I think some folks think art has to be dark and serious. As I said earlier I see a lot of darkness in the world and I prefer to focus on the light.

I haven't experience that.

This is just me and I am getting older. 

computer illustration Antioch College
I guess maybe I need more breaks and I can no longer work deep into the night and not sleep. The physical is offset by the confidence gain.

I have tried new ways just because new ways are interesting. 

I would say enjoy, believe in yourself and do it for yourself. Connect and reach out to other people. Not everyone is good at both creating and promoting. 

Everything up to now.

Yes. It grows exponentially.

I have tried different mediums. I have gained experience and confidence.

I don't think I have any choice.

I believe I will do it one way or another. As I said it is who I am.


I do love the work of Mary Cassatt and Georgia O'Keeffe.

I am inspired by artists such as the above, but in my current area I am inspired by many many people. Children's illustrators I couldn't begin to name. Animators for Pixar and Disney. Cartoonists. Puppet makers for Jim Henson. 

My Mom always appreciated my art. She helped me send out my very first portfolio. I had some good art teacher's in school. My husband has always supported my need to work, both with time and finances. There have been people her in Yellow Springs who have been very supportive over the years, many were friends who were specifically in support groups with me. I have a long list of people I acknowledge at the front of my book "My Town". A few of these are: Arnold Adoff who gave me great advice and help planning out some of my early stories. Anna Arbor who help me hang my very first show. Suzanne Clauser who believed in me enough to hire me to illustrate her novella. Most recently Nancy Mellon has been my number one cheer leader.

KaVoooM Productions :: Kathy Moulton :: Welcome!

Kathy Verner MMoulton is an artist, illustrator and children's book author living in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Through KaVooom Productions, she sells her images of animals in a variety of situations as prints and notecards.

About Kathy
Kathy's Books can be purchased on Amazon or if you are in town drop by Village Artisans Gallery 
Visit Dayton City Paper Page 23 to read the "Have a holly,jolly corgi" article

visit Dayton City Paper Page 23

Taking Flight can be viewed at the Yellow Springs Permanent Collection currently showing at Antioch Midwest

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Sculptor Beth Holyoke

Beth Holyoke lives in what I call the Fish House. When Beth and her husband Andy moved into a new old house and were refurbishing it, one of the creative choices Beth made was to sculpt a ribbon of fish around the top of the outside walls and these aren't any old fish, these are ancient, archaeological fish.

porchAs Eco Activists, Beth and Andy have also built a bunch of Straw Bale Houses, houses that can last hundreds of years, are energy efficient and are cheap to maintain. Being an artist in everything, Beth ended up using the techniques she learned from building Straw Bale houses for building large sculptures.  The first one Beth and her art partner, Kaethe Seidl, made  together was a huge snake built over chicken wire sections filled with straw
and covered with straw bale earthen plaster.  Suzie, the snake curled around poles and reared up as a friendly greeter over the arts council gallery door for a year. 
Beth is a sculptor, working most often in clay. “It is a very rewarding medium and one that have I worked in many times in my life. 
I have also done pastel drawings, charcoal drawings, fiber work, both weaving, batik  and painted fabrics, clothing and wall pieces." Beth’s art has gone in many different directions. 
ceramic heads
She has taught art through the schools and different programs and led the YS Arts Council as President for many years. She also ran the Pot Shop for 2 years. Beth has given a lot to enrich the spirit of Yellow Springs. 
She is well known for her whimsical public sculptures in Yellow Springs. 

There is a wonderful you tube made by Susan Gartner that shows Beth creating her Springs sculpture. 

The Springs Sculpture graces the entrance to Yellow Springs in Bill Duncan Park on Dayton St.  
Beth has often created public sculptures as a team with her art partner Katharina Seidl.
At 3 Beth moved to YS.  During grade school she started taking art classes with teachers from the YS Arts Council.  Her favorite was a marionette class.“The marionettes were the real deal, not paper things.  The kids carved the wooden parts, got to cast hands and shoes, it was all very intricate. Afterwards they put on plays with them."   Later in her life Beth would make larger than life puppets of hometown heroes.  She even coordinated a funky, free flowing village parade that included them.
Getting down to the aging artist questions, we asked, “What’s the stereotype in your mind of an older woman?”   Beth answered in her thoughtful way: “The stereotype of the older woman in our society may be one of invisibility.  Older women are looked right through as if they don’t exist. This makes sense for a society that so highly prizes youth and all things related to youth.  Women especially who are objectified all through life as an object to be admired only for looks, when that part of a women changes, they are no longer to be admired and so they are overlooked.”

Beth continued  “But the good news is, this is NOT the only stereotype of the older woman. In some circles, older folks and particularly women are revered for their wisdom and experience in their fields and in life skills. Although this is a very much more positive approach, this doesn't quite fit either.  Any kind of stereotype is just wrong and does not truly express what an older woman could be.”  

Do you also have a stereotype of an older woman artist?  “Most of my ideas about older artists revolve around their incredible experience, and depth of perception, both intellectually and physically.”

Have you ever felt stereotyped because of your age? “I may have felt a little ageism when I attend workshops with predominantly younger artists. The perception of where they are in their careers and where I “should  be” may be hard to take sometime. Those who are open to new ideas and people do not usually taking this attitude, sometimes you just have to find them.”

Describe someone who busts that myth for you. “Ruth Duckworth a ceramics icon, working into her 90’s is one of my heroes.”

Is it different making art now that you are older?
“Yes, I would say that my art is different now but I don’t know if it’s because I am older or just because I have more confidence in myself and am confident in my skills."
“I just make what I want to make,regardless of external considerations such as what I have done before or what might sell best. Actually,this is always how I approached my work. “

“I feel there are some differences in my art, I believe I am willing to be more systematic and detailed in my work these days, This has been influenced by my work in earthen plaster and building houses. This work requires hours and hours of dedicated work and it has helped to slow my art work down and it has helped me give it the attention to detail that I think it deserves.

Thank you Beth for all you have given in time, art and spirit to Yellow Springs!

The Egg-City of Kettering
Village Straw Bale Home can take the heat
Dayton City Paper New Grounded Exhibit

Friday, November 7, 2014

A Visit with Self Taught Folk Artist Sharon Mohler

"I am probably thought of as an outsider artist, or a raw artist, though I call myself a folk artist. The truth is, I fit no category. I have been an artist all of my life, but I am self taught. I've never been to art school. Years ago, when my children were young (I have four), I supported us by drawing or painting anything that I could sell.  All winter I would paint the things that I knew, wild flowers, birds, etc., on anything that would take the paint (no money for canvas, paper or frames). In the summer I sold them at fairs and festivals, where I passed out my cards. People would call me and ask if I could paint this or that, and I would always say "Yes I can." Then I would learn to do it.  If I failed, I didn't get paid. This meant no money for food, electricity or new shoes for somebody in the house." Sharon's Songs Website
Self Portrait in Clay
"An artist is a problem solver."  Sharon wrote us.   I think that could be the core kernel of her personality.  Her life has been filled with overcoming obstacles, with large dollops of creating and laughter being thrown into the mix. Even as a single, working mom she made time to create tiny scenes from her memories, out of fimo clay, acrylic paint and wire at her kitchen table.  She calls her one of a kind, miniature art sculptures "Sharon's Songs" because they are the ballads of her life.
More videos 
There are a lot of words that come to mind when I think of Sharon, like funny, sassy,  creative and kind. 
err kitty wasn't too happy with me, I stepped on her toes
There is also the great word "tenacious."
When faced with an art challenge (or any challenge) Sharon will" go over, around, through, under or decide that something else is better." As a "self  and life taught artist," when she doesn't know how to make something work she keeps going until she figures it out.  To prove it, she has piles of hat boxes in her home filled with tiny scenes she has created from her memories and the stories from 2 earlier generations.

When asked "what kind of art do you do?" She said "Original."  And that it is, original and life affirming.
Sharon with her self made man "rollo" and  house pals
Sharon still works hard, always has. "I must always earn my own living,  I have plans for staying alive for as long as I can, but there are the worn out parts to consider."  
"I actually feel lucky to be an old artist . I have been lucky to keep my health, even though some parts are a bit worn. No one can live long enough to do all art. No matter how much you do there are still many ideas to be explored. "
"Time only gets better for an artist." Especially when you make interesting things happen and Sharon makes them happen.  
 Mohl-Hill Gallery is a tiny public gallery that sits by the sidewalk in front of Sharon's home.  Sharon designed it and then hired a helper for some of the building work. The plans were made and work started but it took a lot longer than she thought it would. "He's still not finished with my gallery {long sigh.} It is about 3/4th done.. When it comes to ageism I wish that some people would recognize that death is not that far away for me {she gives a fake 'Cough Cough' then smiles.}  I just wish that he would get the damned thing done."
It did finally get done. You can go visit it at 1227 Xenia Ave.
 This is the second unusual mode of taking her work to the street that Sharon has created.  She also created a wonderful green push cart to take her art outside.  On a nice warm day, you can find her and her art cart outside a downtown Yellow Springs store, chatting with friends and making new friends from the strangers that stop to stare. 
photo courtesy of Kate Ervin
 We asked Sharon "what is it like to be an older woman artist?"  She replied, "Good. I don't just think I can do things, I know what I can do."
So what advice would Sharon give young artists?  "Create in every way. It gets you food, clothing. Make up a job. Make pictures, poems or pies.  Other people need you. That is your life line."

Sharon had a wonderful reply to our question "What's the stereotype in your mind for an older woman?"  She said "A better woman."  And when asked "Do you also have a stereotype of an older woman artist?"  She replied "A clever, better woman."
So look again at the first picture at the top of the page.  That is a picture of a clever, better woman.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Sandi Sharp In The Studio

I suppose I can say that I have always been an older artist.I went back to college at age 36 to study drawing (along the way, I took up painting too) because I strongly felt that if I got my degree, things would work out. What those things were, or how they would transpire, were unknown. I graduated with my BFA and turned 40 a couple of weeks later.
My plan was to take a year off, work, and then go to graduate school. Graduate school did not happen, but a lot of teaching did. I taught children from age 5 through adults. I taught at community for profit and nonprofit organizations, a museum, an art college, private instruction, and workshops. One year into it, I became an artist facilitator creating and implementing art projects for those with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. I have been doing this for 18 years. My skills and abilities certainly played a role in getting these positions, yet so did my age. In each case, a responsible, mature person with many and vast life experiences was preferred.

In my four years of college my age didn’t seem to be an issue. My professors treated me like any other student and the students treated me just fine. In fact, I made two true friendships that hold true to this day.

Perhaps my attitude helps. I never think of anyone being younger, or even older than I.  I was thrilled to be learning and excited to be teaching. Age rarely enters my mind, so perhaps it is not reflected back at me; in the rare cases that it does, I just ignore it, or laugh.
As for making my own art, it has ebbed and flowed throughout the years. Having the time and resources has been the issue. This perhaps is again where age comes in. I did not have the freedom of youth (although I am not sure the youth of today have it either) to explore some options. I was a caregiver to both my parents.  I had middle age adult responsibilities and financial considerations.

It was, and is, hard.

Has it been worth it? Most days I am compelled to say YES. I have learned A LOT. I have met A LOT of good people; young, old and in between. I have made a difference in A LOT of people’s lives. A LOT of people have made a difference in my life. It gave me the flexibility to care for my parents. It is NEVER boring. I have had solo shows, been in group shows, published in art books, sat on a gallery board of directors, and about a year ago, started my mini gallery, Gloria.
 Huh, not too shabby.
I draw and paint. In short, my art is about my response to a person, object or place. My favorite art making is about people. Occasionally I will work in 3D, and I love making books; sketchbooks, journals, documenting adventures…..but I always go back to drawing and painting people. A super strong attraction to art making for me is simply the feel and movement of pencil on paper, or paint and a brush on a surface.
paint brushes and paint tubes
Will that change? I really don’t know.

So far, the only aging process that is annoying is my eyes. I am always switching off glasses to be able to see reeeeeally clearly. Will this change? My guess is most certainly.

When I think of older women and older women artists, I think of wisdom, someone totally comfortable in their own skin, and kindness. Is this stereotype true? Nah. Some are, some are not. We are who we are.

My advice to younger artists is: Take Business Classes! Learning how to market oneself, understanding what you are truly expending and its value, budgeting, business planning, and much more it an integral part of being an artist, and usually, no one is going to do that for you. That is if you want to support yourself with your art. If you just want to make art, my advice is HAVE AT IT!
And, for all: Keep your sense of humor. If you don’t have one, well, get one. It will serve you well.

Sandi Sharp Website
Public Art Projects
Outdoor Miniature Fine Art Gallery