• thomas neel scenic view
  • butterfly in clouds
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  • fabric textiles
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  • sunset mountains

The Artist's Perspective - Retirement

With the closing of our gallery five months ago last December, social functions have had me sometimes confronted with these words, “How are you enjoying retirement?” The first time, it caught me completely off guard, because as busy as I am with painting, commissions and writing, and other new projects in the pipeline, retirement is not even a thought.

It has given me a chuckle though, thinking back on the time many years ago when a financial planner we hired asked me about retirement. “”Retirement?”, I replied, “I do what people do when they retire, there’s nothing for me to retire from!” he wasn’t prepared for that.

retirement photo

The truth here is two fold. Part of the luxury of being an artist is creative time has a reasonable amount of flexibility built into it which allows one to appear to have time on their hands. As an example, I’m writing this column and the sun hasn’t come up, and I may be painting at 9:30 tonight. As I’m knocking on the door of 30 years of my chosen path, time management has played an important roll in stress reduction. I don’t dilly dally with projects by any means, but I don’t live without smelling the roses either. In fact, I would say it’s actually an essential part of my life. One that might make people think I’m retired!

The second truth is that it has been reasonably substantiated that the number of baby boomers retiring each day is 10,000. Mostly in their 60’s [I’m 62], retirement can look very different to different people, but all can and many do, find creativity as a meaningful way of filling a void in the time they now have on their hands. In fact, what I have always loved about my creativity is its equal usage of mind and hands. Creativity is not simply thought, it is thought with action. Lots of people have ideas each and every day. Artists by their very nature actually do something to make those ideas become a reality. An idea for a book doesn’t make a book, writing a book does.

Possibly the most important characteristic of being artistic remains self expression. It’s your voice having something to say, be it reality, fiction, or biographical, through a chosen medium. I have often referred to art as the most freedom you will ever have and trust me, that is exactly what I think retirement should look like. Freedom. Those of you all who associate me to our company Live An Artful Life(.com), well, that’s what those words mean.

Many of us live amazingly scheduled lives. The alarm goes off, you shuffle though a morning routine, maybe then subject yourself to rush hour, which ironically is where your life comes to a bumper to bumper standstill. Projects within your job description may seem redundant for the next 30 years, where you plan and work extra hard to prep for those vacations, only to work twice as hard when you return. Promotions are hopeful, layoffs possible, stress predictable and freedom less than likely. I know, I did it, and to be fair, I’m not implying that work is in anyway a bad thing. In fact, productivity, in my opinion, is a massively good thing. It’s all the stuff that gets in the way of productivity that makes retirement for many, a thing to look forward to.

If your retirement is in sight or has already taken place, allow yourself to at least try tapping into your creative side. My best recommendations if you do are to allow it to be fun first. Don’t plague it with the same work agenda you’ve been preprogrammed with since you were young. If you’ve always known you wanted to paint, or play a instrument, or write, or act, or do needlepoint, or knit, go for it. If not, just try different things and see what makes you happy. Be free, not stressed or pressured, and remember, everything you’ve learned to this point has taken a lifetime. So be fair with creativity and allow it to be fun first and the results will come naturally.

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