Is there such a thing as natural artistic ability? I’ll get my opinion out of the way now, “No, I don’t believe there is natural artistic ability” – let the roasting begin.
I’ve met people who seem to be able to draw and paint effortlessly and when I’ve asked them where they studied and for how many years the reply is something like, “Oh, I’ve just been doodling for a year or two”. This peaked my interest, or rather it started an insane itch that I had to scratch.
Who Are These People?
I’m from a military family so we’ve done a lot of traveling and have met quite a cross section of personalities. Wherever we relocated to I would gravitate towards the art communities to see the art work and meet the artists.
What I’ve noticed about these “artists” is that as a whole they seemed to have a very calm, but driven demeanor. They all have a similar work ethic (so many hours of drawing or painting a week) and specializing in a certain style.
Because I wanted to be at their artistic level I would “bug” them to learn some secrets. I never learned any secrets. What I did get was, “You have to practice” or “I don’t know, it just comes naturally”.
So it seemed like there were two types of artists. The first ones said, “practice until your fingers bleed” and the second ones said, “just let it happen”.
Traits These Artist Types Share
What I’ve learned – many years later – is that these types of artists aren’t different. They just articulated what they’ve observed differently. One type would grind it out and practice constantly while the other would internalize it, think about it then trial and error it until they got the desired result.
The traits that I think are shared by these two types of artists are tenacity. I don’t mean the “never say die” tenacity. I mean the stay up to 4:00am or until you pass out tenacity.
Highly observant, the kind of attention to detail that make a non-creative’s eyes ache and want to drop out of their sockets.
Creativity, the need to make something that is not necessarily the most efficient or most beneficial but will reflect the ideas/whimsy of the artist.
These are the shared attributes that I think give these artists their ability. Not the superficial processes of how they produce their artwork.
Different Practice for Different Artists
Like I said, these artists have the same set of tendencies but they do have their preferred methods of carrying out their art objectives.
Artists that are very structured and methodical usually have sketchbooks that are dated and maybe even themed, have finished pieces and are filled up!
These artists will practice features, poses, and create a visual library that they can call on at a moments notice.
They have possibly gone to an art college or Atelier for a formal education.
Then there are artists that are more sporadic. There seems to be a need to have a certain atmosphere to produce artwork.
The practice for many of these types of artists possibly came from tracing artwork at a very young age, incorporating that muscle memory without constant practice This is where I believe the natural artistic ability comes from (just my opinion).
Their sketch books are usually more informal, strictly for practice, almost empty pages and not filled up. Their sketchbooks are a tool for improvement only.
Self taught. Yes, I’m in this category.
Artist Personality Types
I believe that there are mainly two types of art personalities. Introverts (me) and extroverts. When I said that a certain artist type tends to internalize how they go about doing art, I’m drawing on my own personal experiences. Since I know I can’t be alone in this kind of thought process I’ve included it … not that I’m saying I have natural artistic talent.
Then there are extroverts (calm extroverts). I’ve never met the wildly eccentric, emotionally unstable, and physically violent genius artist – I don’t think they exist outside of the movies.
Final Thoughts about Natural Artistic Ability
Even given the stereo typical artist and the extremes of human nature, no one can point out and identify the specific thing or things that make up natural talent. There is no consistent marker in behavior or genetics that can definitively say that natural artistic talent exists.
That’s why I’ve opted for those traits that people share that could bring about artistic talent. These are traits that people can acquire though nurture and experience. Utilizing these traits, you would be able to become an artist.
When you were born you didn’t have the innate ability to draw or paint, though that might be awkward, I mean what would a newborn paint?
Wait … I might be wrong about this whole thing. All the great masters, Da Vinci, Raphael they all painted nudes right?