Inspiration in Late Years and Great Art

We are always looking for inspiration in life. And we should never stop doing it. Because inspiration is that great moment that moves us on, brings happiness and sense of fulfilment. It is good to know that we do not need to stop feeling inspired as we grow older. The challenge is to move our focus from the almost inevitable bodily signs of ageing and all that goes with it: slower and sometimes painful movements as well as other health discomforts, life seems to become slower, there are fewer people we meet during the day…

Once you succeed to overcome these issues, then opportunities arise and you can achieve many things that you wanted to do. There are a number of examples, today as well as in the past, of the people who became great artists, writers, students and generally very good in many disciplines after their 60th birthday.

I personally know some and I admire them a lot, looking forward to be in their company, to learn from their great minds.

I hope you will find inspiration for your own desires in these few short statements from the article that talks about the Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849) whose best works were created between his 60th and 90th years of life.

At the age of 75 he said: “Nothing I drew before my seventieth year is worth looking at. At 73 I partially understood external form, at 80 I’ll progress further, at 90 I’ll penetrate the hidden significance of things. By 100 I hope to be divinely inspired. When I’m 110, every dot, every line I draw, will possess a life of its own.”

Before his 60th birthday, Hokusai painted delicate, yet rather conventional, “floating world” pictures. In his mature years, during the next 30 years, his artworks gushed out of him, characterised by originality, virtuosity, and variety. His paintings range from the decorative, abstract and transcendent to the naturalistic and humorous.

Hokusai’s famous Fuji prints of the 1830s, when he was 70 years old, include one of the most beautiful and iconic work Under the Wave of Kanagawa, while Self-Portrait, Aged Eighty-Three, shows the artist laughing at his early work, is unforgettably cheeky.

“I’m still learning” was the Hokusai’s posture, and this is probably the thought which enabled him staying inspired.

And, by staying creative and inspired we remind ourselves of the price of caring for older people, valuing not just their past but also current potential, wisdom and contribution.

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