It's probably selfishly related to my looming 35th birthday, but I mostly look to older women for inspiration these days. That's not to say that early bloomers are without merit or that a youthful burst of genius or talent is less laudable.
But there's something extra special about an individual who hits her stride later. I always wonder if they suspected they had yet to discover their talent or if they were happily engaged and always reinventing themselves and it's only with the history's backward glance we've decided that thing they began doing later was their true calling.
Lilla Cabot Perry received her first formal art training at age 36, making it unlikely she would become a professional painter. Yet she did precisely that. In 1889, when she was 41 years old, Perry saw her first impressionist painting in a gallery in Paris. Its impact was profound. She sought out Claude Monet, and became his close friend, renting a house at Giverny.
Perry exhibited her work at the Paris Salon and the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago (1893) and won medals for her paintings in Boston, St. Louis, and San Francisco.
Book: Lilla Cabot Perry: An American Impressionist
Suite 101 biography of Lilla Cabot Perry
Images of paintings by Lilla Cabot Perry, via here and here