Okay, so things are at a static spot right now, so I can return to my usual blather, last week’s joyous grab bag of news notwithstanding.

So–last weekend my friend came to visit, and we headed to the Met to see, among other things, the American Woman exhibit (Oh. My. God. Amazing).

When we were done with that, we headed to the Picasso exhibit; the exhibit features 300 works by Picasso (!), and shows his work changing through the years. I know I’m not uttering anything profound, but man, Picasso was one talented-ass dude.

Which led me to this epiphany: There aren’t very many artists who can continue to grow and change as they develop and master their art. Usually, an artist comes out of the box with a bang and then does the same piece of art, only watered down, for his or her ensuing career (see: Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Gang of Four, James Ellroy, Patricia Cornwell, ER, Scooby-Doo with Scrappy, Transformers, etc.).

BUT when you find someone who continues to grow, and change, and develop? Incredible. For example, this week I am reading Jim Butcher‘s Turn Coat, the 11th book in the Dresden Files series. Wow. It is way more complex and intriguing than Storm Front, the first book, which was recommended to me by a book blogger reviewer a gazillion years ago (she is on hiatus for the best reason: A new addition to her family! Yay!).

There are other authors who improve and grow as they “hone their craft” (which, as a romance writer, sounds vaguely dirty). I’d like to think–and hope–that I will be better in a few years than I am now, and I think I’m better now than I used to be.

The essential element, for me, is never being too vain or confident to think I can’t learn something. Apparently Picasso was vain and confident, but also observed and incorporated other artists’ trends and talents into his own work. Like a shark, an artist has to keep moving to stay alive. Or will end up watered down (or, in the shark’s case, a watery grave).

Who has gotten better with age? What other artists jumped the shark (so to speak–completely accidental punnage, I promise!)