Want a Solo Art Show – When You’re 90?

Mckenna HallettGuest blogger Mckenna Hallett is the owner of My Golden Words and the author of the E’s of Selling. She helps artists brand and market their work more effectively.


My 90 year old mother-in-law, Betty Hintz, has a solo show in July this year at a gallery near her home. But, she has been so very busy lately that she is now working almost daily to get the 20 or so pieces completed. She is rushing because she is going to Bali this June. She needs to finish before she leaves.

Just sayin’…! Be careful what you wish for when you embark on a career as an artist. There is very little to stop an artist or creative entrepreneur from creating as long as they can hold a tool or push paint onto canvas. Ever notice that creative souls tend to live a long time? Mickey Rooney is in the headlines as I write this having just passed at the age of 93 – and he was working on a film!

Can you imagine yourself painting (or Zip-Lining like Betty did last December while visiting us on Maui) into your very senior years? Betty mostly works with pastels, and some acrylic paintings. She has always been cautious in her exposures. And, unlike a stone carver, the work is not too taxing overall.


Danger Hazardous Materials


I, on the other hand, chose to work with found objects, mostly metals. Further, I chose to do so without burning fossil fuels. As that is my oeuvre and mission statement, my career is in danger because of multiple joint issues. Bending by hand, sanding by foot (I converted a singer sewing machine to a bench grinder), and generally being a brute in my studio, has taken its toll. Thankfully, my mind still works. And my marketing skills are allowing me to use My Golden Words and that business is moving right along.

But, I wouldn’t change anything about my almost 23 years at my craft and my tough physically demanding “job”. We are driven; and to that end we MUST create. We will always justify the sacrifices to our well-being. But some things can be avoided from day one.

Are you aware of the immediate and long-term dangers you face in your studio? Depending on what art form you do, you might need to be wearing safety equipment like masks, gloves, goggles, etc. We know there are risks with exposure to chemicals like turpentine or heavy metals in certain paints. Wood workers need to avoid inhaling dust from sanding. Goldsmiths and other traditional metal workers have much to protect against.

Even if you think this is just a hobby, take time to learn safe practices for your art form. Protect your eyes, ears, and lungs. Protect your future so you can be hanging a solo show at 100. Or, at least you might be standing beside your newest work and toasting champagne if you take time today to be using safe practices in your studio.


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  1. Thank you for this free guide, Mckenna. I paint full-time, and am considering having a child in the next few years, so becoming more aware of potentially hazardous art materials is very important to me.

    • WOW…. yes… I hadn’t even considered the impact on a pregnancy. AND what about a young toddler being in the midst of an art studio or craft environment. Thanks for the comment – extra food for thought!

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