Do Over! Becoming an Artist after 40

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Rubenesque Landscape by Sharon L. Robinson

This guest post is from Sharon Lia Robinson of Port Townsend, Wash. She has inspired a new feature for this blog, called “Do Over!,” stories about people who started something completely new in the middle of their lives. Thank you Sharon!

I feel that I have always been on a pilgrimage. I have been a poet and a pathfinder my whole life. My spiritual faith gave me a great deal of assistance to face various challenges.

In my 40s, I had several life-changing experiences. One is that in 1995, when I was 45 years old, I traveled for the very first (and so far only time) on a pilgrimage to visit Meher Baba’s spiritual center in Meherabad, India. I believe that the two week spiritual pilgrimage to Meherabad, India inspired me and gave me the courage and the serendipitous opportunity to begin to show my experimental art, beginning in the Metropolis Gallery in Seattle. Meher Baba’s spiritual teachings give me strength and support so that, even if my problems aren’t solved, this inner connection gives me the guidance I need to live my life and to lift my spirits.

Then, when I was 46, I showed intuitive collage art in galleries and began to sell work as well.  Although this has so far happened only in a small way, I still feel that it is a gift and an opportunity. Although unable to draw in a representative fashion, I still persisted to create abstract art, even though I did not receive support or encouragement for many years.

In 1998 I opened an alternative art center, Edge of the Sea Gallery, in Port Townsend, Wash. The initial purpose of this gallery was to give more visibility to the work of artists and poets who were not mainstream or widely known, even in their own community. Another project that I started in my forties is a collaboration with Port Townsend, Washington, photographer Steven R. Johnson; to have his photographs of me shown alongside my poems. We call this project Rubenesque Landscape. Some of the art and poetry in our collaboration can be seen on my website.

The thread in all these activities is that I find strength to be myself, to express my personal vision and to believe in my dreams. Other experiences, including the study of Middle Eastern dance and hula, which honor more diverse body types, have helped me on my journey toward wholeness. I continue to combine these forms with free form dance and poetry for my creative movement projects. I was and am an innovator, often because that is the only way I am able to find the answers I am seeking.

Vanessa McGradyDo Over! Becoming an Artist after 40

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