Can you ever be "too old" to start to learn how to draw?
Well, you should already know the answer to this question. No, of course you can't be "too old" to learn how to draw, or to draw portraits.
You're never too old to start.
I have witnessed "older" people ("older" is always a relative term, of course!) introduce themselves to drawing and art, with great results. They loved art, they were passionate and dedicated, and it showed in all their efforts.
Many art classes (especially community or night classes) are full of "older" people. Some take up art after they retire. Some find the time after their kids are a little older, or have moved out. There's nothing unusual about people who are well into adulthood introducing themselves to art. No one thinks anything of it. It's done all the time.
And many of these "older" people have no trouble being active in the artistic community. They are getting in local art shows, perhaps getting in galleries. They have a blast with it! It happens all the time.
Don't let pride get in your way.
However, some people let their false pride keep them back. A prime example of this happened in an illustration class I took some years ago.
Some people must have assumed that an "illustration" class meant that no freehand drawing would be required. But the teacher brought a live model in one week for us to draw, much to the surprise of one student. He was rather successful illustrator, who created lovely, colorful artwork. But, he was mortified by the prospect of drawing. He didn't know how to draw. He always traced photographs to create his illustrations. Needless to say, his efforts that night were less than satisfactory. He felt terrible about it.
The rest of the class clustered around him later, to offer him encouragement. We all respected him, we all knew how much potential he had. We told him, "You can learn how to draw! It's no big deal!" But he would hear none of it. He said, "I'm too old, it's too late." He couldn't have been more than 26.
It was absurd. Of course 26 isn't "too old." It was nonsense. But not to this guy. His pride prevented him from facing the fact that he needed to learn how to draw. But, he seemed like a dedicated and sensible guyso I am going to assume that he got over his inappropriate pride, and eventually started drawing.
There's no reason to limit what you think you should do because of your age. It's your pride that keeps you back. Who says it's "too late"? Where's the cutoff point? According to my illustrator friend, age 26 is "too late" to develop a vital artistic skill. Would everyone agree with him?
What have you got to lose by trying?
Years ago, one of my dad's friends started to take art classes. This guy was a fellow worker at the Post Office. He had a nice stable job. He was in his late 20s or early 30s. He wasn't so sure that he wanted to upturn everything and get into art. He had a nice job, after all. And he was at such an advanced age!
But, it turned out very well for him. He was Ben Abril, who turned out to be a well-known and very successful Los Angeles artist. I'm sure he was very happy that he chose to take that chance with art. He didn't give up his Post Office job right away, but he did eventually, because he was having so much success with his painting.
There are plenty of other inspirational tales as well. Many "Grandma Moses" and "Beatrice Wood" types started their artistic lives when they were past middle age. Their lives were full of their love of art. Would their quality of life have been better if they had not taken up art? What did they lose, other than the potential of a fulfilling and rewarding pastime, or possibly a new profession?
You have nothing to lose. You are not too old. Don't be afraid to get started!
The cliché of living with regrets
When I was growing up, I knew that my dad loved trains, cable cars, streetcars, all of these things. He was a train fanboy, only we didn't call it that back then. But somehow, he never got one of those train sets that these guys set up in their basements, you know the ones with all the minature houses, bushes, cows, and so forth? I never thought much of it, until one time he said he kept on asking for a train set when he was a kid, but never got one. And then he got older, served in the military, started a family, and obviously—obviously—he couldn't get a train set then, could he? (I would insert one of those "rolling my eyes" icons here if I could.)
I thought that was the saddest thing. I don't know why he thought this way. Or why he waited so long, especially when there are so many guys of all ages that have a toy train hobby that gets pretty intense and expensive. So soon after that, I got him a little train set for Christmas and located a "Train Geek Store" (as I called it—it was a store for train set aficionados) and dragged him there. It was a revalation. His eyes lit up! There in this store were all these other guys—some middle-aged like him, all playing with trains! He got some very geeky books on trains and other very geeky train fanboy accessories, and he was happy.
Why, oh why didn't he do that sooner? Why did he waste all those years? But at least he finally did it. It's never too late. But don't want until later. Do it sooner! This applies to trains, art, anything you want to do. Don't look back with regret.
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