Archive for October, 2010

On Studio Space and Talent

Friday, October 15th, 2010

I set myself up a studio in the basement. Although I have been saying forever that I don’t want a “studio.” I don’t want so many art supplies that take up too much space and I like to be in the common area – doing my thing with people around. But I got a bee in my bonnet to try something new and settled on encaustic. Basically this is painting with hot wax. After looking at some videos, reading up I decided this is way too messy for the living room and I carved out an area in my seldom used work area of the basement.

So working here these last few mornings is interesting apart just from the new media. I hear what is going on upstairs but am a little more absorbed in what I am doing. I feel more concentrated on what is in front of me. Additionally on the plus side my tools are easily accessible and easy to put away, the space is comfortable to stand or sit and the preparation of the space is fun to work out. The downside space is a little cold and has the feel of a basement but I think it will be good in general.
Emerging from here this morning I was chattering at Christopher about how much I am liking the wax. It is very tactile and changing, almost sensual in the way it moves and reacts. I also like the experimentation of the process: will paint markers adhere to the wax (meh), pitt pens (fail), lumocolors (yes!) I then when through the list of artistic crafty endeavors I’ve in dilettantish manner chewed through and spit out: weaving, basket weaving, candle making, painting, knitting – the list goes on and on. I don’t know how the word came up exactly but the word was talent. I basically don’t think I have much. Talent seems to be the thing that makes it easy for people.  They just sit right down and effortlessly are masterful. I am more learned and practiced.
“I’ve defended you about that you know. Someone I know said you have no talent” and I replied “well I might agree there. Mostly I have enjoyed the process, have learned techniques and have enough of an eye to know when something comes out good.” “So what about your graphic design?” he asks. Still I think that is more learned. I learned what makes an eye catching design, learned how to lay out something pleasing quickly. Still I have worked with “talented” people – those who can break all the rules and end up with something awe striking. I have even known one person who was constantly complimented on his color schemes. The big secret there – he’s color blind. I chalk that up to talent. Graphic design has the added benefit of overlapping with something where I have real talent – computers. I don’t have to think about the technical aspects, I don’t have to spend time learning. It comes in as through osmosis; an easily added skill with no effort. But still I am curious. “Who exactly says I have no talent?” CP tells me who and things become more clear. This is a person who paints beautifully. They are interesting landscapes with evidence of varying stages of decay and trains. The trains are how CP knows him. This guy has some talent.

A while ago there was a graphic design piece that CP had me look at and I told him what I thought. I gave him my assessment which he took back to the volunteer who created it. This is a certain talented painter he knows that doesn’t do graphic arts regularly. He was pretty aghast that I dared criticize the font choice or the contrast of the two greens on the cover. I forget what exactly I said but I said absolutely nothing that I thought would warrant being insulted over. There was quite a stir over this, that basically amounted to his work not being up for criticism. I backed down but feel pretty confident about the comments I made. They were practical and based on a bunch of years experience as a designer in a professional capacity. Professional capacity is one that you regularly have to take on a LOT of criticism. Some of it constructive (to me meaning that the product ends up better in the end in my opinion) and some based on individual taste and ego (that you still need to comply with if you are professional.) In the end it is both those styles of criticism one learns from.

So it is later and I decided to write about this. In part because it smarts to have heard that. I have to push down my urge to smack back. So now I am musing about the word “talent” and what does it really mean. So then of course I go to look it up.

1. A marked innate ability, as for artistic accomplishment. See Synonyms at ability.
2. a. Natural endowment or ability of a superior quality. or b. A person or group of people having such ability

So I am thinking about innate vs learned ability. It is possible that you can have a certain innate ability and because of that not be able to take in criticism that would improve it. They develop divahood and can’t go any further. That is only for some talented people I think. My friend Donna would about art school and how she figured one of its purposes was to “break people.” People would leave in tears after a critique. No divahood allowed. Donna who mostly shrugs about her art doesn’t have much of an ego about it so I doubt she was in the that bunch often. She is in another stratosphere of talent, yet I have seen her take critique. Usually it is with a hmmmm and then thoughtfully either taken or tossed with a shrug.

So tell me about talent. I’d love to hear.