Anna Mary Robertson, better known as Grandma Moses, began painting in her 70’s. Despite beginning later in life, her paintings took the world by storm. Some have sold for millions.
Her story may be surprising, but a new study from the University of Chicago and Ohio State indicates that creativity may actually peak at an an older age than most may think.
The study focused on two types of creatives: conceptual thinkers—who have specific goals and methods which they execute systematically—and experimental thinkers, whose ideas tend to be more vague and take longer to come to fruition. After compiling the most notable Nobel Prize Laureates into either category, researchers noticed a pattern.
While conceptual thinkers tended to peak creatively in their 20’s, experimental thinkers didn’t see their ideas ripen until their 50’s.
Quartz elaborated on why:
“The reason for this difference is that radical thinkers who come up with something new usually do so before they are steeped in the conventions of their field. Meanwhile, experimenters take decades of trial and error and accumulated knowledge to make unusual connections, going beyond the conventions of their domain.”
Some came forward as living proof of the study’s findings.
It’s a time when I’m having confidence in my creativity & making it my second freelance business- bringing joy with Bewley’s Bunting Emporium! pic.twitter.com/hfny79VUuu
— Mrs DB (@ADanellsBewley) May 1, 2019
— Now & Next (@nowandnextshop) May 1, 2019
This is my current 'call to peak'. Moonbeam and the Dragon pic.twitter.com/nbvO3gmUFX
— Elaine Ina Hindin (@heddatalespin) April 30, 2019
Others were heartened.
'Creativity peaks in your 20s and 50s'. Phew! I’m ready for my 2nd peak! https://t.co/ACwyYLjstY
— Barry Smith (@BarryNSmith79) April 27, 2019
I've still got time to peak.. phew !
BBC News – 'Creativity peaks in your 20s and 50s'
— bushra burge (@bushraburge) April 27, 2019
So don’t be discouraged! Your magnum opus could be just around the corner.