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February Newsletter: It's Not Talent...Really!

Hey everyone, and a warm welcome!


This February Newsletter is coming a couple of weeks into March. February was a harsh month as me and my family have had ongoing colds and been feeling quite rotten, in addition to having lots of other stress. Any hows, spring is just around the corner for us Northern hemisphere people and the birds have started to sing. This makes me happy 💐


In this letter I'd like to talk about skills vs. talent and share my latest illustration with you. I got into a bit of a rant and this is a long one, so bear with me. And if you are pressed for time just read the bullet points at the end, they sum things up 😄


What artist does not like praise? In the least, the acknowledgment that their efforts are noted? I, like so many artists, am often a bit insecure and unsure about whether I am advancing, if my skills are good enough or if I'm reaching through to anyone with my work. When my work is praised, it helps me in the belief that I am indeed advancing. Receiving praise is a great feeling but it shouldn’t be the main driver behind doing artwork though. That would be unsustainable as praise comes and goes and every artist has to be their biggest supporter during all the ups and downs.  


When talking about being praised, I think it is important to distinguish between one’s work being praised and ones person being praised. There is a difference between what one does and what one is, right? The word “talent” often comes up when I discuss my work and am given praise. I'm confident all artists can relate to hearing things like,“Wow, you are so talented”, “I wish I could do this”, “You are so lucky to be able to do this” etc. Here is the first thing I want to say about "talent". I must confess that being praised for my inherent “talent” feels like all my hard work is not being recognized at all. The thousands of hours of drawing, painting, learning and unlearning, doing and undoing, up and down, on and on. All this work has brought about my ability to do what I do in the way I do it. Talent might be there but it is a minute factor. 


Some people have pitch perfect hearing, some have three dimensional thinking, some don’t see images at all in their head. Some see all the details, some the whole forest. Some people are tall, some short etc. All these individual differences can be an advantage in some ways and a hindrance in other ways. Being able to think in three dimensions is indeed a good ability for an artist. But having an inherent nose for business and good executive functioning skills is also a great ability and an advantage for an artist. I am fortunate to have the talent of three dimensional thinking, but alas not the latter two. Not inherently at least. So I ask you, how does that affect my ability to do art? Not much because all in all I have to do the leg work, practice and study. The main thing is everyone has to work on mastery because that involves so much more than one or a few inherent abilities. 


There is another reason I don’t like the idea about the assumed importance of talent. Believing that talent is an important factor in making art is like believing in some “divine right” to pursue art. This can in fact discourage people from pursuing their passion if they don’t believe they have "talent. This can even affect very young kids. Have you noticed how almost all kids like to make art, then at some point in time they stop. Why? It makes me sad to think people don't "allow" themselves the pleasure of pursuing their passion.


I used to believe that having talent was an important part of pursuing an art career. I didn’t believe I had enough of it and it cost me, it cost me a lot. Years of doubt went by before I finally realized I didn't have to have any “divine right”, to pursue art. "Talent" wasn't the key ingredient. I finally learned that it just takes too some good old fashioned work, some more work and then some more. That is one of the great things about art and creativity. To master something you work on it. 


So, to sum this rather long rant up, just make sure you take this away:

  • You don’t need permission, just do it if you want to.

  • You don’t need talent, just do the work if you want to gain skill.

  • Abilities (talents) are varied and some are helpful and some are not, just depends on what you are doing. 

  • When praising an artist, praise their skill and hard work because that is what made their art what it is.


Here is my latest work, made with love and passion and skill that has been built up for many years. I hope it makes you happy❤


I hope you have enjoyed this read and please leave any comments below or send me on email. I'd love to hear from you what you think. (If you have trouble adding comments here below please let me know, it has been an issue.)


That's it for now!

Until next time, be safe and carry on dreaming ❤

Heiða

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Mar 15
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I think there's elements of both. My daughter is an artist & gets fed up with folk asking 'oh, who did you get that from?' like it was a silver christening gift or suchlike! Assuming inheritance negated her hard work. However I'm also aware that, regardless of the work I put in, I could certainly be better than I am now, no question, but I could never be as good as her because she has an innate talent that means the work she puts in yields better results than mine world. Having talent doesn't make sthg easy, she still gets frustrated when what comes out on paper isn't what was in her head, even though to me, what has come…


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Thank you for sharing your point of view, very interesting take. We absolutely have different abilities but, as you say, maybe that spark is in fact the passion for the subject. Nerd-ing out about something is the best way to make time fly, right, even when you are in fact working on a skill.

Thank you for reading!❤

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