When I share my work, in person or on social media, it’s always gratifying when someone tells me how much they like it. I put hours of careful work and detail into each piece, so I love getting positive feedback. One of the things I do hear about my work is ‘you’re so talented!’ While this is absolutely meant as a compliment, and I do appreciate the sentiment, I’m not a huge fan of that phrase.
‘Talent’ implies an innate level of skill, or natural aptitude for something. And perhaps I do have talent, but more importantly, I draw A LOT. When I first started my business five years ago, I was working multiple other jobs, and so I kept my drawing time to two hours a day. When I started growing my business, that time increased to three to four hours a day.
When you practice a skill multiple hours a day, you’re going to get better at it. I did not pick up a pencil and start drawing highly realistic animals — it took time, and lots of crappy drawings, and many, many hours of practice.
So when people tell me I’m very talented, I feel like it skips over the hard work and time I’ve spent developing and fine tuning my skills. I don’t take it personally — again, I know it’s meant as a compliment. But what really bothers me about the idea of talent, is that there’s an implication that if you don’t have talent, you can’t draw or can’t learn to draw.
I’m a firm believer that anyone can learn to draw realistic portraits, with enough time and practice. So if you want to learn to draw animals, or landscapes, or any kind of art, don’t worry if you have talent or not. Just start drawing! Take some classes or watch some online tutorials to learn techniques. If you put in the time and effort, you’ll improve and get to where you want to be.
I follow a lot of artists on Instagram, and many of them are ‘better’ than me. They produce art that I look at and think, ‘Wow, I wish I could do that,’ and then I set that as my goal line. I work and practice until I can draw the way I wish I could. The danger of thinking in terms of talent is that you might look at another artist’s work and think that level is unachievable, because you don’t have innate talent.
So please don’t give up, whether you’re an established artist or just beginning. If you have a goal in mind, you can get there, no matter where you’re starting from!