Friday, May 28, 2010

Talent or hard work?

This sketch about sums up how I feel tonight.  Its been a busy week at work and with art and soon I need to sleep.

I've been marketing my work, experimenting with new papers to print fish with, setting up meetings, etc., etc.  Whoever thinks that any successes in art are handed to you on a plate really isn't thinking logically about the workload involved in this field.

If I hear once more about 'God given talent' I won't be responsible for my actions.  Let's get real about talent. 

I don't have talent.  I have the ability to create illusion and that ability has come from years and years of practice, of colleges, workshops, self study about technique and more practice.   Anyone has an inbuilt ability to draw or paint.  Not everyone has the willingness to put in the hours it takes to do it sufficiently well.  Creativity needs to be nurtured hand in hand with technical skills otherwise the blob of colour on a canvas that the teacher praises will never allow the student to advance and put their thoughts into reality.

Yes, some individuals have an ability to see more easily the ways to create a piece or have a more advanced colour sense than others do.  But its not down to divine intervention or genetic makeup.  Its down to lots of good old fashioned hard work.


Ernest Friedman-Hill said...

Same sentiment, generalized, expressed in another (very different) blog I read: . I think this holds for almost any field, and everyone makes the same mistake of assuming others have some kind of magic ability but themselves.

OTOH, Jeanette, your hard work really shows -- but it looks effortless to us!

Yelena Shabrova said...

Very well said, Jeanette. Maybe it's a flipside of being a truly dedicated artist - people don't notice the effort that goes into creating an artwork and attribute the result to magic that they themselves will never master. That denying themselves the creative power is another sad thing besides thinking of "God given talent" instead of "hard work."

RHCarpenter said...

But, Jeanette, if we all knew how much work went into becoming a successful artist, few of us would pick up a brush! I agree with you completely on this - work hard until the outcome seems like you are hardly working (hence the pure talent aspect people "see"). BTW, this one makes me smile...and yawn a bit (but it's early here).

Jeanette said...

its a good article Ernest. And you're right. To do well in any field, you have to put in the hours to get there.

Yelena, yes, I'm sure that ignorance of the process makes the result seem magical in some way or unattainable. Is it because the field of art isn't as populated as other fields and the techniques not so generally known?

Perhaps so Rhonda. The illusion of ease that comes with years of doing something over and over until you do it without thinking may seem unobtainable by some people.

vivien said...


and I'll probably swing for the next one who assures me it 'must be so relaxing' to paint


tracywall said...

Thanks for hitting the nail on the head Jeanette. And Vivian, hysterical! So true too!

Even my friends have trouble realizing what it really takes for me to do what I do. When most people vent about issues they have at work, mine look at me blankly then state, "oh you'll do something; you always do."

By showing only the finished product, many believe creating art looks easy. They realize they may not be able to do something comparable, so maybe it's easier to just chalk it up to talent and out of their control than it is to realize it's hard work that gave you that talent.

Thanks for letting us vent, too!