In Praise of Older Artists

By Carolyn Edlund

Art communities can thrive with a membership mix of ages and life experiences. Meet three older artists who share a community and the joy they find in their work.

At the Capitol Arts Network (CAN), an art studio and gallery center recently opened near Washington, DC, artists have been busy moving into newly renovated studios.

One of these studio spaces is shared by three sculptors and longtime friends. Barbara Hughes Meima, 75, Marty Scheinberg, 72, and Elizabeth Steel, 70, all started creating art later in life.  Sculpture has become a fulfilling and exciting part of their lives, and they find many benefits – not only for themselves, but in what they have to offer their arts community.

Barbara Hughes Meima with one of her award-winning sculptures.

Barbara Hughes Meima with one of her award-winning sculptures.

Staying Young at Heart

Barbara Meima says, “I don’t think of myself as an ‘older artist’ but rather a sculptor who continues on her lifetime journey. I anticipate productive days ahead, even doing some terra-cotta. ”

Her thoughts on being a studio artist at CAN are very positive. She believes that, “The benefits are plentiful: structure, self-discipline, friendships. My goal is to continue growing as a carver, moving as I have from classes to juried shows to a new studio and sales.”

Sculptor Marty Scheinberg in the studio at Capitol Arts Network.

Sculptor Marty Scheinberg in the studio at Capitol Arts Network.


Marty Scheinberg recalls helping his sons with their school art projects, even making a papier mache’ bust of Medusa complete with rubber snakes. After his children were grown, he says, “My wife surprised me with painting and sculpting lessons at Glen Echo Park. I’ve been sculpting ever since. I prefer stone-carving in alabaster, soapstone, limestone & marble, although I occasionally sculpt in clay.”

What’s the main benefit? “This has allowed me to express myself unlike anything I’ve ever done,” he says.

Orange Crush Sculpture

“Orange Crush” by Elizabeth Steel Alabaster 18″ x 9.5″ x 3″


Artist Elizabeth Steel attends an artist’s salon at Capitol Art Network. She’s happy to hand out her business card and give a tour of the center and the studio space she shares with her two friends.

She shares images of her sculpture that have appeared in a recent art show, and says, “I never did master the art of drawing, but I’ve been sculpting for 10 years and I don’t ever want to stop. I am particularly delighted to have a studio at CAN, where I can work with artists of all ages, all media, and all career stages. Life is good!”


Judith HeartSong, Executive Director of CAN, talks about the mix of ages in the new center, which now has a waiting list for studio space. She views older artists as a critical factor in a well-rounded community.

She explains, “I worked hard to find emerging, mid-career, and older artists to interact with and inspire each other. We all know that kids fresh out of art school have amazing ideas, energy and drive, but that zeal can flag over time when doors do not open easily and quickly. Mid-career and later-in-life artists bring a steady determination to their studio practice – which often goes unrecognized in the search for the latest flavor of the week in galleries and publications.”

“So many late-blooming artists have raised their families & worked hard at building a career to provide income, and at some point they have the ‘is this all there is?’ moment. They harken back to their early creative years and pick up artist tools either once again, or for the first time. Later-in-life artists bring a tremendous amount of life experience to their chosen practice, and with great dedication somehow often end up making up for lost time in building a new career.”



  1. Marty Scheinberg says

    Carolyn, thank you taking the time to interview our group of sculptors. Your
    article is inspiring to us and hopefully to the art loving public as well.

  2. wow! this is inspiring and confirms the belief that artists never retire! Art is a way of life. Keep creating the world~

  3. that’s an awesome post! i don’t think a true creative ever stops creating…sorta in their blood!!!

  4. So nice to read about “mature” artists who are going strong. I believe that there are a lot more of us out there than one might realize!

  5. How refreshing to see someone focus on the WORK of older artists, not just the fact that we are old. I’d also like to venture that truly creative minds do not seize working over the years. In my case I often ‘paint in my head’….or as my neighbor used to call the abstacts…”out of your mind”!

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