Monday Motivator: Talent is Merely Stubborn Pursuit

When we see a painting, we see countless years of work that went into understanding color and line and form, the creation of our own aesthetic languages, not to mention the hours the painting may have taken to make, in an instant. Often the most effortless looking works took the most amount of years of learned “looseness” – a lightness of touch to which so many painters strive.

Talent is merely the stubborn pursuit of something amazing.

Kimberly Brooks, “What is Talent?

We see a painting in an instant, and aim expect to be able to jump in at this point of painterly achievement ourselves straight away, rather than looking at everything that’s gone before to get the artist to this particular painting.

Monet’s early paintings and his later paintings aren’t only far apart in time, but also in what he’s trying to achieve, what he’s no longer wanting to do. Compare his Green Wave from 1867 to how he painted the sea in The Manneporte (Étretat) from 1883, and how his final water lilies series of paintings are all about patterns of colour rather than subject and focal point.

Believing it takes talent means you believe you haven’t got the inherent thing that’ll make you good at it, so you give up before you even start. Besides the issue of whether talent exists or not, there’s also the issue of believing that something is worth doing only if you’re going to excel at it. This belies the tremendous enjoyment to be had while you’re learning to do something, in the discovering, exploring, playing and experimenting, to see what happens and what there is. This doesn’t disappear if you never get very far up the perceived ladder that stretches towards “good”.

Certainly there’s frustration when what you’d like to be doing isn’t yet achievable, that gap between what you see in your mind’s eye and what your fingers translate onto the paper. Instead of giving up, use this to figure out what you still need to learn, where the gaps are, and see if you can fill this.

Black ink and a big coarse brush

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