This article is by Clint Watson, former art gallery owner/director/salesperson and founder of
FineArtViews. You should follow Clint on Twitter here
Back when I owned my art gallery, a man came in one day and wanted my opinion of his art. You see, his heart's desire was to be a professional artist.
Unfortunately, this man's work was, frankly...terrible
. I thought to myself that he truly should not give up his day job. But, believing in hard work and "luck", I encouraged him to continue with his artistic pursuits as long as he truly loved and enjoyed it
....and I asked him to periodically show me his work so I could see how he was doing. (Plus, he assured me that, since he had a family to support, he would not quit his day job until he was 100% sure he was ready to support himself with his art).
Over the years, he worked hard, studied with some of the greats, painted every day and just kept at it. I was impressed each time that he came in, that his work, while still bad, WAS little-by-little improving
I still remember the day, years
after our first meeting, that he brought in the first painting that made me think "this is pretty good."
Fast forward to today, and you'll find the artist in this story working as a successful, full-time, professional artist.
David Leffel once told me
, "Talent is overrated . . . it's what you DO with the talent that counts."
(He said this, by the way, years before Malcolm Gladwell's book, Talent is Overrated Outliers
, was published....although Gladwell's book is worth a read). Richard Schmid says essentially the same thing in his book, Alla Prima
, where he advises would-be artists to,"just assume that you've got talent and move on to learning and doing."
Note to artists: If David Leffel and Richard Schmid say something regarding art.....you'd be advised to take heed.
Software Craftsman and Art Fanatic
PS - My apologies to Lori for jumping on the talent subject right after she posted on the same thing, but I've been wanted to tell this little story for a while and this seemed like the appropriate time to do it. Click here to read Lori's article, What is Talent?
(where a version of this post appears as a comment).
PPS - Malcom Gladwell was not the first person to put forth the "number of hours" theory of becoming competent in a given field: I quoted newsletter author Michael Masterson's theory of becoming competent in 5,000 hours on this blog in January of 2007