I will be leading a panel discussion at this March NCECA conference in Houston, Texas, along with Don Reitz and Cynthia Bringle.  The title of the panel is Aesthetics and Aging.  I would welcome any comments about how one keeps the creative flame alive as one ages.  Short, one-liners are what I am mainly looking for so that I might include them at the conference.  Cheers,  Tom Supensky.

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Hello, Tom.

I've thought about this a lot. When I was a kid, I used to think it would be cool to be fifty. Most other kids want to be eighteen or twenty or something, but I thought that being fifty meant that you got to wear tweed suits, play cards and smoke cigars, all of which seemed "cool" to me. Well, I have the tweeds but have eschewed cigars for healthy bike rides and salads and I don't play cards, but somehow, fifty still seems "cool". Somehow or other, my eight-year-old self identified the one thing that age brings: FREEDOM. A freedom to play and to experiment. I now understand what Oscar Wilde meant when he said "Youth is wasted on the young". The true self-confidence which comes with age - as opposed to the mere cockiness of youth - brings its own rewards, large amongst which is the ability to be unswayed by mere fashion, to be unaffected by the sneers of the self-appointed tastemakers.

For me, this self-confidence comes from being at home with one's environment, the tools and materials, the language which I've developed over the years, despite the setbacks, the crises, the disappointments. The very pleasure of making things, knowing that I have the skills and ideas to realise whatever I can dream up keeps me working, and an enthusiasm for whatever new technologies or ideas are thrown at me ensures that the ideas stay fresh. I am very fortunate to have daily contact with a large student body at the college where I teach and the demands of these young people to be given the most up-to-date ideas not only allows but forces me to keep current: the currency feeds the ideas.

I'm not sure that I've exactly covered the ground you were asking about, but feel free to ask me questions if you want to know more.

Hello Dauvit,

Yes, we often want to be something different than we are at the moment, older, wiser or better at our craft/art and so forth.  However, we have to settle for what we are now.  Getting older brings many changes.  We should be wiser and better.  I like what you said about being unswayed by mere fashion.  As we grow older we can look back at so many fads.  Those fleeting forms of art did have some redeeming qualities that we realized could play a part in our personal bank of tricks.  Now that we are older we have so much more experience from which to draw.  Maybe we should keep some of that youthful cockiness as it can often lead to an unexpected aesthetic development.  We should also recognize the difference between self-confidence and stubborness.  Change is vital to keeping the creative flame alive.  Finally, I thank you for your excellent response and look forward to hearing more from you.  Cheers.

I could not agree more with Dauvit.

I would like to add that the creative flame never actually diminishes or goes out, I am just more selective about the projects I decide to focus and spend my time on.

Hi Brigitte,  You are amazing and I thank you for all you contribute to our creative world.  Yes, I also agree with Dauvit.  Yes, the creative flame is always within us, sometime a roaring blaze and others a smoldering ember.  I believe that there isn't anything that is not linked to creativity.  Your use of the word focus is the key to how one stays in touch with the aesthetic process.  Thanks again.

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