Is it Talent or Learned Skills When it Comes to Doing Fine Art?

I just found this wonderful blog by Carole Ridrigue for you. It's a subject I know I've wondered about and heard other artists talk about, so actually here are two articles for you to read and give thought to as you're working hard.

Talent vs Learning: Artistic Talent is Overrated
by Carole Rodrigue
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 will hone 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.

Here's another article on the same subject from London by Michael Craig-Martin RA: advice for an aspiring artist
By Michael Craig-Martin RA

Published 27 April 2015

In an extract from his new book, the Royal Academician who nurtured talents including Gary Hume, Sarah Lucas and Damien Hirst offers his insights into how to get on in art and the art world.
By far the most important characteristic for anyone wanting to be an artist is desire: the passionate, inexplicable desire to make art. This desire is more important than talent. To have enviable talent but qualified desire is not enough; to have little obvious talent but overwhelming desire may lead to success. Desire can be encouraged but not taught. In my experience, a driven person lacking any recognizable talent may, out of necessity, invent a way to work at which they excel. This is what we call originality.

Pleasure in doing is the essential basis for making art. When you love what you do, no effort is too great, no time too long. We are all capable of doing a lot of things for a while, but not for long. Art can only come from what we are able to sustain.

I would never advise anyone to become an artist. If you have another option, take it. Most people who end up as artists rarely feel they had an option. Art is the only endeavour I know that models itself around the abilities, experiences and needs of each individual who engages in it. It is entirely accepting, respects everyone for who they are, offers no strict rules of right and wrong. It enables one to turn everything about oneself, one’s limitations as well as one’s strengths, into advantages.

Much of the best art has been made by those who failed to succeed in other more conventional activities. For art to work for you, you must work at it in the ways that give you the greatest satisfaction, that reflect your interests and your passions, that occupy your time without effort, that change with you as you change over time.

Don’t try to be too inventive. The more your art reflects you, the more it will speak to other people. If you are not sure what you should do, just do whatever comes into your head or catches your imagination. Gradually, it will lead you to where you should be. Making art is a path not a destination.

Well, there you have it from two different sources. Hope this has been as helpful to you as it have been for me. Comments welcome!! Ciao!