Do you really need talent to create art?

 “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” — Pablo Picasso

Are people born to be artists or is art a skill that anyone can develop with a lot of practice and good instruction? There is a concept among many people that, to be an artist, you have to have talent. Which means that, for most of us, creating art becomes an impossible dream.

We are told that we can learn to appreciate art but that we cannot create art. And this attitude has caused art to be considered an extra subject in school (I think that the extra subjects are called “specials”), not connected to the academic subjects that are considered to be the core of an education. 

In fact, people often boast about their inability to draw, with such silly comments as “I can’t draw a straight line.” (Neither can I. When I have to draw a straight line, I use a ruler!)

I am here to say that the idea that creating art is accessible only for a talented elite is absolutely untrue. In fact, I think that the whole concept of talent is over rated! If you want to create art, go ahead and do it. You’re going to have to practice a lot, but isn’t the effort worth it? 

I remember when I decided to give up art. I was fifteen years old. I had decided that I was completely without talent and, despite all of the art classes in the world, I would never improve or grow as an artist. So I gave it up. Sort of.

Even though I didn’t take any art classes for a number of years, I still continued to doodle and to invent my own little cartoons.

My mother, though, never gave up on the idea of Alice the artist. She nagged at me for years. So, to get my mother to stop nagging me (she was relentless), I took an art class. Before I went to the first class session, I said to myself, “Self, you have no talent. Your paintings are going to be terrible. So you may as well have fun while making really bad paintings.” That approach basically reframed the whole Alice has no talent attitude from “why bother?!” to “have fun and who cares about the result?” Without realizing it, I had discovered process art. The concept behind process art is that it is the process of creating art, not the final product, that matters. 

I was happy and relaxed as I painted. And, when I was done, I was shocked to discover that I really liked those paintings, even my depiction of a paper shopping bag. I ended up by giving that one to someone who claimed that I would be a famous painter in the future. I thought that the suggestion was quite funny, but I was encouraged to keep going. Plus my mom kept asking me to show her more paintings.

Since that first art class, I’ve taken many more, and I have filled sketch books with my observations of the world. I’ve even entered my art work in contests, such as the Erie County Fair. Art has become an integral part of my life. I believe that art should be an integral part of every young person’s education but, unfortunately, when school districts are looking to cut the budget, guess where they look first!

I will never give up art again. It brings the color and joy to my life. It helps me see the world as vibrant and as exciting. It taught me that no one is ugly. Art is truly the gift of my life.

So, back to the concept of talent. Do I have talent? I don’t know. Does it really matter? No, I don’t think so. I have put the effort into reinventing myself as an artist. It is something that anyone can do.

All you need is a pencil, some paper, and a bit of that yes-I-can! attitude! Go for it! You won’t regret it! 

5 thoughts on “Do you really need talent to create art?”

  1. Well, that was definitely my perception! And you have sort of blown it out of the water. I like the idea that you can create process art and it doesn't matter whether or not it looks good. In thinking about whether or not it would be worth it for me to take an art class or two, what comes to mind is that I could learn to create nature scenes well enough to decorate my home, thus saving money on buying art.

  2. I love this. There are so many areas to be creative, we shouldn't worry if there is one thing that we don't prefer to do. Painting and drawing are unattainable for me, but I love to make cards and scrapbook — paper is a better medium for me! We just have to experiment!

  3. Julie Jordan Scott

    More important than innate talent is the willingness to practice and make the most of what we have – at least that's my perception! 🙂

    Loved walking down your history of art making (and not making.) I am grateful you are showing up in and with what YOU love! Brava!

  4. I love your art work, especially the sunflowers and teddy bears! Sewing brings out the same to me as what art brings out in you. Don't give it up again!!

  5. Kebba Buckley Button

    Alice, "process art"!!! What a great concept, which I don't think I knew about before. I love your paintings of pears and sunflowers and teddy bears! And others I don't recall offhand. I do hope you will continue to release judgement and enjoy the process– and share with us what you create!

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