Innate or Learned?
Is artistic ability innate or is it learned?
I believe some are definitely gifted before birth with artistic ability. I say “before birth”, because the Bible supports this in Jeremiah 1:5,
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you, I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
I believe in God, the Almighty Creator of the universe. Jeremiah was a youth when God spoke these words to him. There were times when he even went through so much suffering he didn’t want to prophesy what God appointed him to say to the nation of Israel, but he couldn’t hold it in. He said it was like a burning fire in his bosom when he tried not to speak God’s word to those he was appointed to prophesy to! He did what he was born to do!
I believe God gives gifts to every person whether it is artistic, musical, or theatrical ability. Each of us is created as a unique individual, not like anyone else! I believe each of us has something to offer the world around us.
So obviously, first, I believe some artistic ability is innate. I know a few people who are very young and have had few art classes, but can sit down and draw or paint anything they want without looking at some example for how to draw it. When I see what they can do, I am utterly amazed! It is incredible to see the talent that God gives to some people. It can at times tempt those of us who have had to learn and really work at it, to become jealous. But don’t go there, friends. Create your own unique art and enjoy doing it, no matter what others around you think of it. However, at times, other more experienced artists may offer you some advice or feedback on your work. So thank them for their opinion, think about what they said, and either accept it or reject it. We can learn a great deal from others when we aren’t so puffed up with pride that we block ourselves from being open to the input of others. Even people who aren’t necessarily artistically talented may see something we don’t!
A few years back I saw a class of children ages 7 to 12 who took art classes from a woman in her home. My 9 year old daughter was among them. In a few months I couldn’t believe some of the things she drew! She hadn’t had hardly any instruction, an hour or so once a week, so I believe she has an innate talent. I’m not sure how she sees herself right now, but others have said so, too. The thing she really has an eye for is photography. She sees and takes awesome pictures without a lot of concentration or forethought. This shows me that God has given her an eye to see something and capture its essence quickly, and it turns out beautiful every time! She deletes many pictures she doesn’t like, of course, but she really has an eye for photography.
Second, some artistic ability has to be learned. This is the category I fall into. I still can’t draw still life without feeling frustrated. I usually work from photographs or from memory of things I have seen a lot of examples of. Also, I have drawn fantasy characters, such as fairies, dragons, etc. But I had to buy books to learn how! I have quite a collection of art instruction books now, because I have been interested in many different things that I wanted to learn how to draw. But the one thing I always come back to is flowers. I mainly work from photographs. Some drawings I have done have been from books which I would never claim as my own work. Some paintings I have done are from photos off the internet. I would never try to sell them. But mostly I have done drawings and paintings from pictures I have taken myself or from pictures friends of mine have taken. But I always ask their permission first. In fact, I have a few that I am going to do this summer, but haven’t gotten to them yet, because I have been busy planting flowers in my yard! But that is a story for another day.
I have met a few artists in the last few years that have done some really intricate drawings and paintings. Most of them are at least 30 years younger than I am which means they are only a few years out of high school. They have all told me that they have either been taking art classes for years or hadn’t taken any until recently. I don’t think I’ve ever met an artist who hasn’t taken classes at one time or another.
Which category do you fall in? I have no idea. And it doesn’t really matter. Whether you were born to draw or paint or photograph things or you have to learn them isn’t really relevant in the grand scheme of things. What matters is what you choose to do with what you know. How do you spend your time? If you want to learn how to draw flowers, do you find books that can teach you how, sit down and learn, or do you just wish you could do what someone else can. Wishing we can do something is a waste of time. Trying, failing maybe, and trying again – that is what gets us where we want to be. And hopefully, when we succeed, we keep on going and become better artists. Keep learning and growing whether you were “born” to or just want to.
Now I’m going to go water my new flowers. And soon I am going to photograph them, or ask my daughter to, so I can draw them!
Have a great day. Tell someone you love them and give them a hug!