The Tech/Age Gap

Technology.  It’s the nemesis of an older generation.  Now of coarse, technology is a constantly changing item that waits for no man (or woman).  The only change we can count on is "Change".  Everything and everyone changes.  As almost a 60 year old, I find it hard to believe that I’ve changed at all, but I have.  As we sit in our studios behind the easel,  quietly listening to music or reading a great influencing article, book or review, time has moved on and every single day technology goes faster and faster.  As AI changes things exponentially, we think about how that Phthalo Blue will look mixed with the new Burnt Sienna you just bought online.  It’s a different art world when the concept is more important than the execution.  I’ve seen it, and t’s rough. 

When I left college, I began a career as an “airbrush illustrator”.  I did photo retouch and illustration. It was difficult as a freelance artist, but like most artists, I diversified and worked at galleries and odd jobs.  Then came “computer graphics”.  It took the place of airbrush and my short lived career was over.  Or was it? I fell into an art form which was very much like airbrush in the use of a frisked material, Glass carving.  It was different, not commercial but more for architectural and interior design.  I changed my medium.  I was only 22 when I began glass carving in New Jersey at Coastal Glass Carving.  I did that for nearly 20 years.  I opposed computer graphics and went in the opposite direction of as artisan.  

So I figured out how to ditch the tech and then moved to Pastels and oil painting   I taught a bit and did portraits and figure work.  I had great disdain for computers.  They destroyed many careers at that time. I did explore my fine art techniques and learned and honed my technical fine art skills.  The world went on.  I did start Facebook ( just as it became public) as I traveled to keep watch on my kids' lives and communicate with family from far away.  I did make my own website in 1998 through a very user friendly platform.  No Wordpress for me!  I learned to explore the internet and find items before many other artists, like Vistaprint, which I’ve used since it began.  The one thing I’ve noticed as I limped along is that for some reason, I was ahead of my Contemporaries.  Most women and many men artists my age don’t use technology and in fact, still seek out galleries as their sole outlet to sell their work.  Perhaps they still go to art fairs and outdoor shows, but they don’t explore the internet very much. 

It’s not that they can’t learn it, it’s that is seems so “un-artistic”.  It is.  It’s a calculated marketing strategy and requires a business mind.  As older artists, we rarely look at ourselves as business’.  However, we are a business.  We are the CEO of our own company.  This requires some thought.  It requires not being so right brained.  It requires us to explore the left a bit, and that side has cob webs in there.  When you spend your whole life opening up you right brain to see color, composition and imagination, it can be a little rusty on that logic side of life.

I was forced, YES, forced to learn, but I took it on my own terms.  I learned to draw digitally, my way.  I learned to market, my way and slowly, very slowly.  I realized, I needed to adapt or perish. I’m adapting, and it’s very interesting the lessons I’ve learned.  But I feel like Wendy with Peter Pan, when I want to drag all my siblings and friends with me to “Never Never Land”. It requires an open mind and an open heart.  As we age, we get tired of the struggle, tired of change and we sometimes say “goodness, can’t we slow down this marry-go-round?”.  Adapt or perish.  Arg! 

So I learned about Instagram (it’s not just for peeking in on your friends lives).  I learned about Snapchat, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube and what Facebook is really all about.  I’m learning how to show my work publicly and still be online.  I have had work with The Contemporary Museum in St. Louis, the St. Louis History Museum and now the Islip Art Museum on Long Island, NY, as well as many more art and group galleries.  I also have a YouTube channel that I am learning how to post videos to teach and I am developing courses to teach digital drawing and pastel drawing, because WE can do both.  I’m teaching a coarse in the spring “An Artists Professional Presence in the Digital Age” at the Islip Art Museum, through the Islip Township Arts Council.  

There is a chasm between younger artists that may be educated in the newer technology with less education in fine art and very talented, wise older artists that just don’t know how to be seen in the world.  I see a great injustice to those artists who barely understand their new iPhone, or how to use google search or even how to buy art supplies online.  It is a very wide chasm indeed and I hope you older artists have the patience to sit and listen to more experienced artists and that they can hold their hand patiently through a very difficult left brained process.  These older artists have a few tricks up their sleeves to teach you as well.  They have life experiences with famous artists they have met and maybe collaborated with.  They have seen our world change historically, politically and socially.  They have great imagination that college didn’t teach you.  They see the world so differently. So,  I intend to bring my friends and family with me to “Never Never Land”. 


off to “Never Never Land”,  Kelly