Grandma Me

Holding court in my studio, July 2017

I have been spending a lot of time lately working on the business facet of my art. I am submitting pieces for more exhibitions and I am working diligently to keep track of the work I am currently showing. I’ve also had my next decade birthday on my mind. A lot.

In this introspective state of mind, I remembered learning about Grandma Moses when I was in grade school, and my children learned about Grandma Layton when they were in grade school. I believe children learned about these artists as a means of encouraging them that anyone can be an artist.

Sugaring Off, Grandma Moses · 1943

Anna Mary Robertson Moses known by her nickname Grandma Moses, was an American folk artist. She began painting in earnest at the age of 78 and is often cited as an example of an individual who successfully began a career in the arts at an advanced age. Her works have been shown and sold in the United States and abroad and have been marketed on greeting cards and other merchandise. Moses’ paintings are displayed in the collections of many museums.

Self-portrait as Noah’s Wife, Elizabeth Layton

Elizabeth Layton, a native of Wellsville, Kansas began drawing in 1977 at the age of sixty-eight when she took a drawing class at a local university. In class she learned to use the technique of “blind” contour drawing in which the artist looks at the paper only for points of reference, concentrating on the subject reflected in the mirror rather than the line being drawn on the paper. Every day Layton worked at creating self-portraits that reflect her response to contemporary social issues.

She (Grandma Layton,) exhibited her drawings first in Kansas, and later throughout the US. Collections of her work are also displayed in the Spencer Museum of Art and Lawrence Arts Center in Lawrence, Kansas, as well as at the Mulvane Art Museum in Topeka, Kansas.

After thinking about these ladies for a bit, I’ve started giving serious consideration to changing my working name to Grandma McGuire. The “grandma” title seemed to give these ladies an edge in getting their work shown, and I’ll take any edge I can get. The logic makes great sense to my brain.

  • I am most certainly a grandma; I have five grandchildren in a range of ages who can attest to that. They will happily share with you how old I am.
  • I did paint as a young girl, but I didn’t come back to my art until I was fifty-six. I realize that I was a spring chicken compared to these ladies, but you get the idea.
  • Other than the fact that I haven’t won awards or had museum showings, my story is just like theirs. I’m sure it’s just a matter of time for these honors to flow towards me.

In all seriousness, I think there is a great lesson to learn from these talented ladies. They both discovered a facet themselves in their later years that brought great joy to a lot of people. They lived creative lives at a point in time when many people of that era just gave up on living when their time came to retire.

As many of the people I know start to look at the reality of retiring, I would like them to remember that retirement is not the end of their story; it’s an exciting new chapter in their life. You don’t have to become an artist or write that great novel to prosper; you just have to get up every day and decide that you want to live that day to the fullest. And then do it.

What are your thoughts?