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.

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