A Canvas of Aging Painting across generations

I wanted to explore how various generations approached art, so I created an event involving a group of women from several generations. I included family and friends that ranged from 19-80. My goal was to develop a deeper understanding of how older adults felt about sitting down and painting a canvas as opposed to how a 19 year old girl like me felt. The project consisted of a video tutorial guiding the group through the steps to painting Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night with sunflowers. None of us had any extensive painting experience but the video guide enabled any level of expertise to create the beautiful picture.

As the process began I noticed several things:

1. Everyone was fairly hesitant and had little faith with how the project would turn out.

2. Patience decreased in the older generations, and the oldest (80 years old) left her seat several times because she wasn't enjoying herself.

3. Self-criticism increased in the older generations. I was proud of what I had accomplished considering my level of experience but the older women seemed defensive and not proud of their final products.

4. The older women payed very close attention to details which meant there were more corrections and numerous pauses to let them finish fixing minor details.

5. The youngest (me) left with a sense of accomplishment but the oldest (80 year old) left feeling as if it was a waste of time.

In conclusion, there were many things that I anticipated, but there were some things I was surprised with. I knew when starting this project, all of the women would feel out of their comfort zone, but I hoped as we went along, the creative expression would overpower the fear and everyone could appreciate the new experience. Because many of the women hadn't painted before, I thought doing something unfamiliar could help them explore new artistic aspects of their life, and I think for most, they appreciated it but the project wasn't for everyone.

For the future, I hope to be less hesitant about expressing my creativity. I wanted the older women to know that it is possible to start a new activity near the end of life and try to soak up every last breath in artistry. I certainly hope to do a painting get-together again sometime soon and unlock my hidden skills. And I want to thank the ladies who graciously accepted the challenge.

Created By
Erin Johnson

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