Aging Into Artistry the Left-Brained Way

Elizabeth Lemon silk painting Elizabeth Lemon

One day, in my early sixties,  I decided to change the way I look at myself.  After a younger friend's sudden death, I asked myself “what would you regret if today was your last day?”  The answer quite surprised me!

I have always been a “maker”.  Sewing, knitting, smocking, gardening, computer arts, quilting…I mastered and loved each of these at one time or another and taught many students to fully enjoy their handiwork. I did not consider myself an artist but an educator and a technician.

A life lived in my well-developed left brain, I did not consider myself an artist but buried deep was this desire to be one. Could I find something at my age with my demanding perfectionism and left brained dominance to bring out the artist that I know lies in each one of us?  I began to search and take various art classes looking for the spark.

On a vacation to Charleston, SC around 2012, I encountered silk painting for the first time.  In the visitor’s center, there is a huge painting of an aerial view of the Charleston harbor.  It is in 5 sections and my first reaction on seeing it was “What on earth is that?”  I could tell it was fabric and as I got closer and read the label, I realized it was painted on silk.  I was blown away…I did not know you could do that.  I knew then I wanted to see if silk painting was an art medium/outlet that would capture my interest.  Thank you, Mary Edna Frasier, the fabulous silk artist, for making this beautiful work of art that set me on the path from ‘not an artist’ to ‘being an artist’.


Coming to the silk painting world through the quilting world and years of sewing my own clothes, the love of fabric was a given. Starting by googling Mary Edna Frasier and silk painting teachers, my fascination began.   From the first moment my brush filled with silk dye touched a piece of stretched silk, I was hooked.  I wanted to spend the rest of my life encouraging my artistic side.

What a huge learning curve!  I had little art training….until I discovered silk painting.  Color was a struggle and a mystery still.   But that is the fun part! I started taking every online class I could find about silk painting. 

I knew that hands-on teachers were a necessity so I started traveling to take classes in search of mentors.  I have found many generous teachers in the silk painting world and I will be eternally grateful to the talent, love and generosity of Karen Sistek, my mentor.

I ordered my first set of Jacquard Green Label silk dyes in the Fall of 2013, and methodically took lots of classes, painted lots of silk, redesigned a garage into a painting studio finished in 2018 and …..the rest is held in the future.  

Anyone out there starting to explore art after 60?  I would love to hear from you and your path.  Please comment or feel free to email me


  • Jeanenne Morphis on

    We are on the same path…I’m 62… I painted in oils for about 6 years about 15 years ago…. I got frustrated with my lack of progress even though I took many classes….Four years ago, I stumbled into fiber art, art quilting, collage… I hadn’t touched a sewing machine since I was a child and didn’t have any real skills other than mending… Finding mentors was tough…. I eventually listened to my inner voice and started making collage pieces and found it was very addicting….. I then needed to learn to thread paint and quilt them…..Another huge learning curve… I’m still workin on that skill….. I likewise saw some silk paintings in a gallery near me but the artist was not interested in sharing or teaching her skill…. Someone at the Sister’s quilt show told me about Karen Sistek so off I went… I painted my first piece, a peony and a koi lamp in my first class…… I painted a large tulip at home but lost my mojo as we were marketing our home and I had nowhere to do it…. I went back a couple of years later and painted a large parrot with Karen and then last year I painted the same blue heron you have done…. I’ve done some smaller pieces since and am looking forward to doing more when I return from vacation…..I quilted the last one I did and framed it for a friend… poppies…..I just bought a mid arm quilting machine as I get neck and shoulder pain when I do the large FMQ on my sit down machine…. I am very interested in thread painting and bobbin work for texture on these silk pieces…. But I’m concerned about the difficulty of too much needle work on silk….Have you done much with your machine on your pieces? And how are you progressing with your work…. Do you take photos and draw your own designs and interpret them? I’d love to know…

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