In the September/October issue of AARP magazine, there’s an article entitled “Unleash Your Inner Genius!” about seven “late-blooming artists.” The article’s emphasis on the reader and his or her creative possibilities may be a bit over optimistic where many people are concerned, but the seven artists are truly wonderful. There’s a blues guitarist, several graphic artists, an actress and a mystery novelist. Five of them are in their fifties or sixties, but the actress is 77 and the novelist is 87. Those are numbers to stir the enthusiasm of other old women — or at least this one.
Says Judith Hernandez, 62 and a pastel artist, about art at a late date: “Time and experience allow you to distill those feelings [from your youth], and your skill, so you waste less effort. It’s the difference between a sauce you make in five minutes and one that you reduce and reduce and the flavor gets more intense and deeper. You’re left with a smaller amount, but the flavor is amazing.”
Eugenia Lovett West, the mystery writer, especially interests me. She’s been writing since the 1940s and, along the way, raised a family. It was 1979 when she published her first book. Unfortunately, it didn’t lead to more.
“This huge gap of time went by when I was writing but not getting published,” she says.
Then, in 2005, when she was 85, the right editor read her work and everything changed. She published one novel in 2007 and another in 2009. Two more are in the works.
“I’ve had an 11th-hour plot twist,” West acknowledges. “But I hope it inspires olders writers to persevere. It’s a blessing to wake up in the morning with the urge to create.”
All seven artists have fascinating stories to tell of how they came to discover, or rediscover, their creative genius, and I hope you’ll read the article.