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Creative Revival for Aging Artists: Unleash Design Inspiration through Travel

Older artists have produced some of the world’s most meaningful artwork. Claude Monet painted San Giorgio Maggiore at Dusk at 68, Edward Hopper produced Nighthawks at 60, and Katsushika Hokusai painted The Great Wave when he was in his 70s.

Clearly, old age is the perfect time for a creative revival. However, if you’ve spent your career behind a desk, you may find that you’re in dire need of some fresh inspiration.

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Traveling is a great way to freshen up your imaginative faculties. When traveling, you’ll see things fresh and will find that the tapestry of the world beckons you to take up your easel, camera, pencil, or brush.

Travel for Growth

As an aspiring artist, you’re constantly looking for new ways to capture the world. This process can be deeply rewarding, as you’ll encounter plenty of new ideas, techniques, and styles along the way. Make the most of your time traveling by visiting destinations that promote personal growth. Consider overseas spots like:

  • Italy: It’s difficult to not feel inspired when you visit the home of Renaissance art. Get your artistic juices flowing by spending time in the country’s major artistic hubs: Rome and Florence. Rome hosts plenty of modern art and religious iconography, while Florence boasts art by Michelangelo, Botticelli, and da Vinci.
  • Greece: The Mediterranean lifestyle inspires introspection. A trip to the capital city, Athens, will expose you to the writing of Plato, Herodotus, Sappho, and Euripides.
  • South Africa: The Rainbow Nation is renowned for its nature parks and safaris. However, you can also connect with a long lineage of artists by visiting the Origins Centre in Braamfontein.
  • Alaska: The “Last Frontier” has hosted artists for generations. Consider a trip to the Museum of the North to learn more about the rich tradition of sculpting and painting in Alaska.

When traveling, try to keep an open mind. By embracing your artist’s eye, you’ll discover all kinds of unlikely sources of inspiration. Architecture and art galleries are sure to get you thinking but don’t disregard the less pleasant sights you see along the way. Sometimes, your greatest inspirations occur when you’re off the beaten track and see things that most tourists avoid.

You also don’t have to stray far from home. Some of America’s most majestic National Parks such as Glacier, Death Valley, and Capitol Reef are well worth the drive. Purely the act of being on the road as a stunning vista opens out before you can ignite new flames. Moreover, in a park like Glacier, you can journey deep into the wilderness and glimpse the Northern Lights and the Milky Way — both fantastic fodder for art.

Consider keeping a journal if you’re struggling to find inspiration. A travel journal gives you space to reflect on what you’ve seen and may help you notice patterns in your thinking. Even a simple 5-minute reflection can be enough to help reignite your design ideas and empower you to take up your paintbrush.

While traveling, try to take plenty of pictures and sketches. A reference will be extremely helpful if you want to recreate the feeling of the Trevi Fountain or the majesty of the Alaskan wilderness. Even a quick reference sketch will serve you well when you’re back home working in your own studio.

Capturing the Golden Ratio

If you’re new to the process of artistic creation, you may find it difficult to produce work that you’re proud of. This is entirely natural, as almost every artist has felt the burden of imposter syndrome at some point.

Get yourself started in the right direction by utilizing the Golden Ratio. The Golden Ratio was first discovered by Euclid and is used to create harmonious compositions. You can find the spiraling Golden Ratio in nature, paintings, and architecture.

If you want to use the Golden Ratio but don’t consider yourself a mathematician, break your canvas up into a series of rectangles. Overlaying 6 rectangles will give you a great direction to follow and can make the design process that much simpler.

You can also utilize the rule of thirds if you’re finding the Golden Ratio to be overwhelming. Taking photographs or painting while using the rule of thirds will help you find a natural balance and can help give your artwork structure.

The Golden Ratio can be particularly helpful if you plan on taking reference photographs while traveling. For example, if you’re visiting the Acropolis of Athens, consider taking a series of pictures that align with the rule of thirds. Be sure to feature the Acropolis itself, but capture elements of the natural landscape or crowd alongside your reference image. This will give you material to work with and help you discover new sources of inspiration.

Remember that all artists break established rules at some point. This means that you have free reign to ditch the rule of thirds of the Golden Ratio if it no longer serves you. You may even find that stepping out from established norms helps you discover a design style that suits you.


Travel is a tonic to all artists. As you grow older, you may find that travel can reignite your creative faculties and help you see the world from a fresh perspective. Consider visiting key cultural sites like Florence, Fairbanks, Athens, or Johannesburg when traveling. Remember to keep an open mind while exploring new cities and don’t be afraid to venture to destinations off the beaten path.



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Karen LeBlanc

Karen LeBlanc is a travel host and writer with a popular travel show, The Design Tourist, and a companion lifestyle blog. As a widely published travel journalist and content creator, Karen is a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association. She also serves as the Design and Travel editor of the national lifestyle magazine, LaPalme. Karen believes that every destination has a story to tell through its local art, architecture, culture, and craft. This immersive creative exploration begins with authentic accommodations where the narrative of place unfolds through art, accessories, accouterments, furnishings, fixtures, and food. 

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