Art: nothing to do with having talent

Nick KyleArt Department Head

Nick KyleArt Department Head

Nick Kyle

One of the most frequent statements I hear as an artist and teacher is, “I would love to take an art class, but I can’t even draw a straight line, besides I don’t have any talent.” My response to that comment is “That’s why we have rulers, and talent has nothing to do with being able to draw. All you need is a passion to learn and a good art instructor.”

Almost everyone assumes that if you are unable to pick up a pencil and render an accurate drawing of a person, place or thing, that you are not blessed with the ability to be an artist. But they do not hold that belief about the other fine arts. Would you expect to pick up the cello, violin or clarinet and play a complicated piece without years of practice? Would you assume you didn’t have the “talent” to dance or act because of your failure to succeed on your first venture? All of these professions, like many other fields of endeavor, require hard work and practice to attain a level of skill that will enable you to perform satisfactorily.

More often than not the main ingredient that draws one into a particular profession or craft is an enjoyment of the process. That passion or pleasure supports one through the long, hard, monotonous hours of practice needed to develop the physical and mental skills required to break through to the next layer of awareness. Learning to draw is a process of developing your eye-hand coordination and dexterity. However, one of the main reasons for taking up drawing is to learn to “see.” The physics of the eye permits us to receive information but it is the brain that processes the information and allows us to perceive or “see” the physical, spatial world we live in.

Learning to draw a likeness or duplicate the visual world around us on a two- dimensional surface provides a beginner with an attainable goal. The accolades of friends and family provide short-term rewards for these efforts. And to many, this is enough to warrant staying with realism. There are many wonderfully skilled draftsmen, painters and sculptors who produce beautiful images of our world to reflect upon and to provide vicarious enjoyment. However, to many the word “artist” is reserved for those individuals who do more than replicate what they see.

Their work asks questions or leads us into developing a new awareness or understanding of a culture, place or concept. Developing new ways of seeing and interpreting the world has been the mainstay of the visual arts during the last century. It has its counterpoints in music, dance, drama and literature.

I have found that good art can ask questions, confuse, stimulate, mesmerize and create anxiety. Most of all it communicates emotions, ideas and concepts. Many times it is not immediately accessible and challenges the viewer. It’s not only about liking a piece. It has to do with understanding and to understand, one must learn about the process, culture, artist and movement. So get out that drawing pad, start the adventure and see where it takes you. You are only limited by your imagination!