Born talented or taught to be an artist?

By December 31, 2014Articles

Is there a different between being born talented and taught to be an Artist? Does it make difference in the outcome?
One day my art student who was at age ten came to me to starts her art lessons. She was almost in tears of frustration and disappointment saying ” I am a failure…. I am not talented… I was not born talented. ..other students in my class can draw so well and they do not need to take art lessons… ” She lamented!

Listening to her attentively, I wanted to help to do the best of my ability. I sensed her deep frustration that her class mates seemed to had been born with talents while she had to learn it! Having felt each word that came out of her mouth, while watching her facial expressions and sensing her desire to learn art, I thought of how I could help to build up her spirit, confidence and make her feel good about herself, I advised her the following:

“Whether we were born artists (talented by nature) or taught to be artists, in either case, can end up as professional artists if we pursue it seriously and passionately. The fact is that in both cases, when individuals have great love for art, with time, will improve their passion and patience for art and will develop their own styles. The difference is that talented person might take him/her longer to perfect it. But as for you, who are eager to learn it, have been investing on it, making the special efforts to learn, you should feel fortunate and wipe out your tears. You better save those for the day when you don’t do your homework and receive punishment from me” I said jokingly. She laughed and I continued: “I believe that it will help you to think positively, look at the bright side and see it this way:

Think positively and say to yourself:

1- I am glad to have parents who can support me to develop my desire to learn art

2-I am glad that I can spend time on learning what I would love to learn.

3- I am glad that I have been receiving the highest marks, in the art field, in school.

4-I am fortunate to learn it whereas other people would love to have same opportunity yet can’t afford it.

Avoid thinking negatively:

1-I am a failure because I was not born talented

2-This person and that student are better than me

3- This and that are not taking art lessons, yet they draw almost like me or maybe better

Questions to ask yourself:

1-Do I really want to pursue this and am I able to?

2- Without art lessons, would I have been able to criticize art work constructively?

3- What could have been my marks in school had I not been taking art classes?

4- Can a talented person, in my age, comments on art works the way I can now?

5- If I was not taking art lessons, how long would it have taken me to learn what I know now?

Things to remember:

1- Do not compare yourself or compete with others but with only yourself, what you are now and with your previous art work.

2- Enjoy seeing other artist’s beautiful art work, be happy for their success and learn from them.

Since then, my student has changed her attitude which contributed to her fast progress, we have a meaningful relationship and I have been treating her not only as a student but also as a daughter.

A letter her parents wrote to me, please click here.

I had another student who came to me, for art lessons, in her 70’s. She felt it very odd to learn art at her age, but she had the strong desire to learn it “I had worked all my life as a clerk in the government, yet my desire was always to learn art. I have gone to art school before but left with tears. I did not get enough attention or direction of how I was supposed to draw this or that, where everyone else there, knew how and what to do. So I felt that learning art was not for me and that I was only making fun of myself. But when I found your brochure for private art lessons, I thought that this might be the answer for my strong desire to learn art” She expressed herself.

Her words penetrated deeply in my heart and started the art lessons with her. I have to say that she was one of my very unique students that I cherish very much. She proved to be very observant and fast learner. Her thirst for art helped her to produce excellent art work. She was serious about her homework I had given her. And we ended up with an intimate friendship.

A letter this student wrote to me, please click here.

The following is another example of a professional artist, who was born talented. Yet, he could not find the right and the sincere direction to learn art, except in school of his childhood. This little seed that was planted in him remained for many years and produced the unique artist. When Sorin had read my article “Teaching art/teacher-student connections”, sent me his comments as follow:

“It was very interesting for me to read your article “Teaching art/teacher-student connection”. I would like to share my experience as a student, at some point and as an art teacher later in the years. In my childhood schooling, as I was learning art, I had received the main educational art principles that I am still using until today. Only, back then, I learned and tasted what arts was all bout. And this was credited to my sincere and kind art teachers who taught me drawings and sculptures. I am very grateful to my first teachers for they had taught with love and sincerity. Learning art history was part of the program which was not much of interests for me, but remembering my kind teachers, this had helped me. In addition, the artistic atmosphere of my school had contributed to my strong motives of pursuing art. Although, the school was very old building, that I felt I had lived in the 18th and 19th centuries, nevertheless, had seen around me sculptures of Renaissance (a copy of certainty’s work), was behind my love and my appreciation for the classical art. Memories that have been carried with me up to date, even the smell of the school, I still can remember!

I had pursued my art education and was graduated from a four year Art College. I was a good artist, but there were better students than me. Over the years, I had tried to develop my own style, yet I felt the devastation several times using verity of styles. Persisting on improving and learning more, I had spent another five years in different institutions and occupations, but were similar to what I had in College (nothing more to learn). The time came, when I decided to improve my artistic skills independently. I had studied paintings in museums, in particular, of The Russian Artists of the 19th century, which has inspired me.

In the years 1994-1997, I had produced over a hundred paintings and have achieved good results.

Finally, I came to realize that teaching art require sincere teachers and good communication between teachers and students, as was the case in my childhood. I am very grateful still to my art teachers. As for learning or teaching a technique/style, is a very minor issue but teaching with love and sincerity that all what is needed.

I’ve tried to teach, at the request of some people, who merely, wanted to receive my experience and my knowledge. Eventually, I found out that they were only aspiring for the love of money rather than the love of art and did not have what it takes to be true artists. They lacked the love for art and the spirit of what art is all about. Therefore, I have ceased to teach and have decided to only, teach interested children in whom I could bring up the most important thing and that is the artistic senses/spirit”

To close up my thoughts on the subject “Born talented or taught to be an artist” I find that there is a very fine line between both cases which we call it the gray area. The difference between being born talented and being taught to be an artist is the difference between being self- motivated and learn to be self-motivated, between having feelings for something and learn to have feelings for it!, between being self-disciplined and learn to be self-disciplined, between an observant by nature and learn to be observant. Whether we catch up and develop our talents early or later in the years, it is the great need, from within, that keeps on calling us to pursue it! Whether, we can make living out of it or not, this is another story.

Self-motive is an inner quality of a creative person.

©Mona Youssef – Canadian Realist fine artist