My theory is that everyone has the talent required to make art….. to make good art.  Everyone- your dentist, the guys outside mowing the lawn, everyone. There are, however, four factors  that keep that from happening.  The most obvious one is, of course, interest or desire.  Your dentist probably has no interest in doing a painting.  #2 is lack of self-discipline. #3 is unrealistic expectations, and #4 is lack of self-confidence.  For anyone bothering to read this MAKING BETTER ART essay, #1 is a non-issue…. all  artists want to make good art.  It is numbers 2,3,&4 that plague us.

My dictionary defines talent as “a native ability for a specific pursuit”.

I think we will all agree that every child loves to make art…. to color, to paint, to cut and paste…. with delight and enthusiasm.  Every child shows a talent for making art.

Now let’s look at Child A:  His parents believe that art is an important part of life.  They make sure he has paper and crayons, paint and markers…. as much as he wants.  They take him to art galleries, museums, and concerts.  They have good art on the walls of their home.  They send him to art camp.  By the time he is in high school he is comfortable doing a drawing for the school newspaper or  a painting for the CD cover of his friend’s band.

Now for Child B: Her parents’ choice is to plop her in front of the TV rather than deal with the mess of art materials.  Gallery and museum trips are not a part of their lifestyle.  When she gets to kindergarten the teacher hands out pre-drawn sheets for the kids to color, and when she colors the sky orange she is told “No, that’s wrong.  You’re supposed to color the sky blue.” She is never encouraged to try drawing or painting, she has never met an artist.  Art is a non-factor in her life, and if you asked her about it she  would tell you that she couldn’t draw a straight line.  And she has no interest in trying.

Just looking at these two young people side by side, with no background information, the common observation would be that Child A is talented in art, and that Child B is not.

But I don’t agree.  I believe that Child B’s talent, her “native ability” is still there.  It has just been buried.

So once again I say :  We all have the talent required to make good art.  The hard part is to dig through the layers of crap that have buried it, and to once again make this talent accessible.

If you say that you’ve always wanted to paint or to draw or to create welded sculptures, but you don’t do it because you have no talent, you need to find a new excuse.  Either admit that you don’t really want to make art (it just sounds like kind of a cool thing to say), or figure out what’s really holding you back and work at solving the problem.

HINT: There is a good chance that the primary issue is that you are afraid to try for FEAR of looking foolish/inept/talentless.

“Your talent is as great as you practice it to be” Keisha J. McLean

I have no idea who Keisha J. McLean is…..but in my Googling attempts to find out (which I never did) I came across several other bloggers who were also struck by the wisdom of Keisha.

It meshes rather nicely with one of my all-time favorite quotes, by Sydney Harris:
“Self discipline without talent can often achieve astounding results, whereas talent without self-discipline inevitably dooms itself to failure.”

I have had this posted in my studio for many years. I need to read it regularly, as self-discipline is not my greatest virtue.

4 responses to “Talent

  • Marilyn Clement

    My husband golfs with a Mark Bergerson who said his wife is an artist. Since I too am an artist I looked online and found this great site and loved what you had to say about talent…also love the artwork! I don’t know if you are married to a Mark but I thought I would send this reply anyway.


  • Libby Witchell

    Hi Judith, I’m finding your advice very practical and striking a cord with me, which I shall pass on and recommend to my students. I find the challenge can be a case of liking too many variations of art styles and mediums and find myself jumping between the excitement of trying ” everything out “to explore creating more interest in my work. Always chasing the elusive great painting, and the fun and challenge is in the process of making the art piece. I’m very excited to have found your work, great inspiration and advice. Thankyou Libby, Australia


    • jbart3916

      Thank you for your comments. I agree, it is a continuous battle to maintain focus and not get distracted by all the new, unique, and fun stuff that is out there. There is just not enough time!!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: