Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Talent vs Learning? Artistic Talent is so Overrated

What's on my easel?  I'm currently working on these two projects.  The swan is about 2/3 done, but will be put aside for a bit as I'm working on a special commission.  The guitar is a very special commission and this photo shows what's not yet a complete first pass.  There will be many layers to be added, as well as detail work on this 7-string baby, so it'll be a couple of weeks at least.  I don't think I'll show more progress shots.  I'm not sure yet.  

Sooooo, talent or learned skills?

I get so many comments about having talent.  Why, I just had a message in my inbox this morning asking me when did I realize I had such talent.  After the initial first two seconds of feeling flattered, I replied to the person that I think talent is overrated.

That's right.  Overrated.

While for most artists there is an initial degree of talent that starts us on our artistic path, for the most part it's all about learning and work.

No amount of talent will have save your skin if you don't learn the basics, basics on colour, light, shadows, paints, mediums, materials, etc . . .  There is a heck of a lot to learn, and to practice.

No matter the amount of talent, it's learning that practicing that will hone that talent and skill.  Skills do not come naturally.  Maybe a bit at first, but skill comes from a lot of practice.  Years of practice.  And don't kid yourself, the learning and practicing never ends.  Show me an artist who stops learning, and I'll show you an artist in stagnation going nowhere fast.

I have seen so many artists with so called "talent" reach a dead end in their art because they thought their talent was all they needed.  These artists never progressed.

I have also seen artists who were convinced they could never create a nice painting because they didn't have an ounce of talent.  These artists went on to become fabulous artists able to paint a level of realism that you would think took a lifetime to develop, in just a few short years.  Why? Because they had DESIRE.  They had the desire to learn and practice.  They soaked up any precious bit of wisdom and information and relentlessly practiced at honing their newly learned skills.

So, I know many who aren't artists get tired of hearing how it's not about talent, but that's the sobering reality.  Talent will only get you so far.  It's way overrated.  But that's great news.  This means that if you have the desire, yes, you too can be a really great artist and it's never too late to learn.

It's time to stop glorifying talent so much and start recognizing great artists for what they really are, people who dogged determination who didn't give up, people who had a passionate desire, people who showed up and learned, and kept learning.  People who still keep learning.  That's what makes great artists, not talent. Talent almost seems like a myth when you really think about it.


hmuxo said...

This was a wonderful post Carole! Your swan is beautiful already and I look forward to seeing your guitar finished...a great subject!!

Carole Rodrigue said...

Thank you Hilda. It's a larger piece, the full bird. The plumage is taking a while and I'm still experimenting with color on this. The whole piece has been experimental from the beginning, so it's a great learning experience.