On Talent

“Wow, you’ve got talent!”… I’m closing in on my first year of serious painting and I’ve heard that a few times. It’s meant as a compliment and that is how I take it, and am grateful for the kind assessment. Hey, at this early stage of my development I’m just happy that people take the time to look at my efforts.

But, there is an aspect of “talent” that I am uncomfortable with. In a way, it’s a dismissal of the effort one puts in to learn something new. But the big deal to me is that it is an obstacle in the path of other peoples’ desires and goals. “I don’t think I have talent.”, they might say. “I’ll never be able to paint something pretty, something cool, so why should I bother trying. Why should I embarrass myself, I’ll never come close to what the real Artists are doing.”. I had these thoughts when I started to paint, and I have them today, especially when I’m a bit stuck on the progress of my latest effort.

Maybe I do have some talent, I’ve always thought of myself as an Artist, and have a history of Artistic Endeavors. But at the heart of every Art, there is a Craft. And Craftsmanship doesn’t take talent to succeed, it takes hard work and attention to detail. And perseverance and practice, practice, practice, study, study, study…

If you think you need to be born with talent to be an Artist, you are simply wrong. What people call, “talent” isn’t genetic, it is learned. It is developed by focussing on what you want and having the courage to say, “I don’t care if I look foolish at first, I’m gonna learn this.”, and then just applying yourself, putting in the time and effort and learning the Craft of Painting. As you do that, the Art tends to just appear.

So, don’t cut yourself short. Don’t be afraid. The thing about failure is it will teach you something of value if you pay attention. And it isn’t the end of something, it’s the beginning. Keep trying, keep building on what you have learned. In this first year of serious painting, I have painted and drawn on more days than I haven’t. I have stopped watching mindless tv and movies and have spent that time watching art tutorials, art philosophy, and art history and documentaries, mostly on youtube. I work at Art every day. It doesn’t happen overnight, but if you focus your mind on a goal and keep it there long enough, you will succeed.

Good Luck! Or, rather, Get to Work if you Really want it ;)…