The Great Talent Hoax

Posted by on Jan 23, 2012 in drawing, General, Lessons, Wilsonia | 4 Comments

Pencil drawing for The Cabins of Wilsonia

Have you ever thought or said to an artist, “Gee, it must be great to have talent”? Or have you you ever said, “I wish I had talent like that”?

It’s all smoke and mirrors.

Actually, it’s not. It is practice, training, practice, rough criticism, more practice, a little success, practice, trial and error, practice, a little public embarrassment and yet even more practice.

Malcolm Gladwell wrote in his book “Outliers” that it takes 10,000 hours of intentional practice with a focus toward continual improvement to become an expert at something. He’s not talking about mindless repetition.

Practice makes perfect. Erasers help too.

The harder I work, the more talented I become.

Practice, practice, practice. And, have a second more objective pair of eyes that is connected to a truthful mouth that is connected to a kind heart have a look at your work.

My Very Wise Dad told me of a concert pianist who had to practice 8 hours a day. When he dropped to 6 hours, he could tell the difference. When he dropped to 4 hours, his audience could tell the difference.

The only people who don’t learn to draw are the ones who quit drawing lessons too soon. Those who persist begin to think they have talent.

They might be right.

Sometimes people quit drawing lessons (or piano or ballet or drumming or guitar or knitting) because they don’t love it enough to practice as hard as talent requires.

Think I put enough cliches in this blog entry? 😎 Perhaps I need to practice my writing skills more.


  1. SteveS
    January 23, 2012

    Yes. A burning desire is requisite, but couple that with loving the object of your training, or practice, and ta-da! it’s not drudgery, you’re having fun with it. (I know there’s a God metaphor in there somewhere)

    • cabinart
      January 24, 2012

      Thanks, Steve. Fun is an important ingredient to learning. Think about times tables – if they are sung or rhymed, they are more fun to learn. (And no, I don’t sing to my students!)

  2. Joel Fortner
    January 23, 2012

    Dead on the mark with this! We are limited by our mindset with which we approach something.

    • cabinart
      January 23, 2012

      Joel, we have to want to learn something badly enough to focus and practice. I think of all those folks who say “easier said than done”; my response is always “Name just one thing that isn’t easier to say than to do!”