One of the hardest things I had to get through to my friends was that just because I work at home, does not mean that I do not work. I do not have time to go to a movie in the afternoon, or to get a pedicure just because you have a day off. I work, I work hard. If I am not painting, I am studying painting, or going through reference, studying anatomy, in the field up to my hips in mud watching how a cow moves, or a horse grazes. I once had to chase a wolf pup down who had one of my lenses in his mouth. I sit on the back porch and dissect the light coming through the trees and how I can make that work on canvas. I am NEVER not working. Yes, I have the greatest job on the planet. I am lucky to be able to do what I do, but don't think that it comes easy...it does not. I am grateful that you like what I do, I am happy if I can make something for you that makes you happy. I am truly blessed, but I work hard for that blessing.
Here is Jim's post...
Talent... or Skill?
When someone tells me that I’m “talented,” I know it’s a term of admiration… though unknowingly misguided. Don’t admire my talent, for it is such a small part of what I do. Admire my dedication, skill, and sacrifice. Those are the qualities of which I’m most proud.
It starts out innocent enough. Someone at a show or exhibit will be gushing over my work, tossing complements about like rice at a wedding (no one throws rice anymore, do they?) and all but making me squirm with at having to say “thank you” so many times. Then the words come out that make my blood boil. “I wish I had your talent. This must come naturally to you.” Really? Like I eat a couple of tubes of paint for breakfast every morning and crap out finished 12x16 canvas later the same night (never mind how painful that might be. And I know they mean nothing hurtful by these words, so I just smile and nod hoping they don’t notice my white knuckles as I grind a fist into my leg. If they only knew the mind-boggling stack of past failures it took to get here and the paralyzing knowledge that there are many more failures to come... the years of study and frustration to achieve a level of competence where I wouldn’t throw up at the thought of showing my work in public... the amount of research and planning it takes before I ever dip a brush in paint.
I love what I do, but there is no “magic” in the process. It’s simply work. Not the kind of work you do with a wrench or shovel. I’ve done plenty of that in my time. And not unpleasant work, but a continual task of study, experimentation, evaluation, and then application of a learned knowledge. It’s a skill… not a talent. The magic happens when someone stands in front of a painting and says something like, “I’ve been there” or “I can almost smell that water.” Now that’s magic!
I don’t deny that it’s possible (maybe even necessary) talent may play a part in the stages of artistic development. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had an obsession with drawing. Still, I didn’t understand much about it until I started studying the work and teachings of others who were highly skilled at the craft. To dismiss what any skilled craftsman or woman does as some whimsical gift by a higher power is an insult (though it’s almost never intended that way)
There will always be folks that disagree with me on this subject (though very few of them are professional artists), and that’s okay. I’m not really hoping to change anyone’s mind. These merely the ramblings of my own tormented mind (discussed in an earlier post). It’s fine that there is some mystery to art. It adds an element of romantic notion to what I do. But I’d rather that romance be directed toward the finished piece than any mistaken enchantment in its creation.
I think he says what we all think at some time or another. We have a tendency to dismiss the work that goes into a finished product. If you go to a restaurant and get a really amazing meal, your thought is not that the chef was gifted...you know that he/she studied to combine those elements of the food to make it work. If your mechanic fixes your brakes, you know that he/she studied to learn how to do that. An artist is no different. We study, we learn, we fail, we flail, we recover, we have ah ha moments, and we succeed every now and then.
Just to let you know, we appreciate your comments, bad and good. We listen, and sometimes we learn, but you are the reason that we do this. If no one was there to look at our work, why would we do it?