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  1. #1
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    myths about drawing

    Hi! In your journey through art, did you notice any myths?
    like:

    -"drawing is hard", no drawing is easy, just make a mark on the paper. Sometimes people give up before even pickin up the pencil.

    -"there's nothing to draw" open your eyes, there's a lot of interesting stuff to draw. and after a few tries you start to notice a lot more stuff to draw.

    -"i need years to get good" you can learn something new in just one day, like drawing mandalas or drawing a cat.

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  3. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by sketxz View Post
    -"drawing is hard", no drawing is easy, just make a mark on the paper. Sometimes people give up before even pickin up the pencil.
    Drawing is more than making a mark: it is hard.

    -"there's nothing to draw" open your eyes, there's a lot of interesting stuff to draw. and after a few tries you start to notice a lot more stuff to draw.
    The job of an artist is to show the beauty that others do not see: agreed.

    -"i need years to get good" you can learn something new in just one day, like drawing mandalas or drawing a cat.
    You can learn new things, but it takes years to become good.

    Let me add some myths:
    - In a world of tablets, there is no need for drawing: look around you, draftsmen will soon be extinct
    - Drawing is easier than painting
    - Real artists paint, sculpt, animate, whatever: drawing is just a preliminary step

    Grinnikend door het leven...
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    Yes I guess I need to accept that drawing is hard and it takes years. Well at least it's not like a video game that you finish in 2 weeks, it's a lifetime study.

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    Some of the most annoying myths:

    "You either have talent or you don't. If you have talent then drawing is easy and if you don't then you can never learn how to do it."

    "Artists just close their eyes and imagine something and then copy what they see in their head."

    "You can't use reference or look at anyone else's art, because if it doesn't come from inside you and nowhere else then it's CHEATING."

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    I always thought the "using reference is cheating" thing was a little odd.

    Look at Dürer's Rhinoceros woodcut: he was a great artist, but having nothing to go on but written notes and descriptions it turned out looking sort-of like a rhino. "Sort-of" is still far off from a realistic depiction though (which would have been the aim of the piece I guess).
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    "So convincing was Dürer's fanciful creation that for the next 300 years European illustrators borrowed from his woodcut, even after they had seen living rhinoceroses without plates and scales." - https://www.britishmuseum.org/explor...hinoceros.aspx

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    -"drawing is hard", no drawing is easy, just make a mark on the paper. Sometimes people give up before even pickin up the pencil.
    Well, I'd say it really depends on the type of drawing. I wouldn't agree that its entirely a myth but yes, some people don't even try and therefore have no right in saying that.


    -"there's nothing to draw" open your eyes, there's a lot of interesting stuff to draw. and after a few tries you start to notice a lot more stuff to draw.
    Snort. Ikr.

    -"i need years to get good" you can learn something new in just one day, like drawing mandalas or drawing a cat.
    To learn something is one thing, to get good is another, or a.k.a. Diligence.


    I'd also add another one, that I've heard way too many times:

    "I can't draw".

    There's no such thing as 'I can't draw'.
    Its like saying 'I can't cook' or 'I can't ride a bike'.
    Or 'I can't write'.
    You just haven't been sincere enough.

    Some people do have 'talent', in a sense - they pick things up faster, see connections quicker and hence can implement them in art before others. But that likely applies to them in other things as well, not strictly for art, so you can't say its unfair or it doesn't exist in that way. Just like how people excel at math or languages, or how some people have a better memory.

    That's certainly not to say that those without talent cannot art. -use of word yes hahaha-
    Art is expression, inspiration and technique learnt from experience, not simply a subject breached to achieve excellence. There's no clear-cut method to excel, so in a sense,everyone starts from ground one.

    Therefore, no matter how 'talented' you are, everyone has to practice before they can achieve a standard in art. It's obvious when someone screws a technique due to lack of practice.


    Another one that I've realised time again to be bloody annoying is when someone makes up excuses for errors in their piece. Such as:

    "My [insert tool] isn't as good as ____." or "My [tool] is hard to draw with."

    Yeah. It's always the fault of the pen's thickness, or the room lighting that your piece came out bad. If anything is wrong, its your lack of willpower to achieve the standard you desire. There's nothing wrong with your tool - you're just not used to it.

    Whether you use a soft 2H pencil, or a dark 4B, an old paintbrush with splayed bristles or fancy nylon ones, digital medium or traditional, quality or average paper, Bamboo Fun or Cintiq 13HD, even a mouse or a charcoal stick – it doesn't bloody matter.

    "The Tools make the Artist" — no. It is the Artist that molds the potential out of his/her tools.

    Nobody should make excuses because they think their tools are inadequate. You could be using an LCD professional tablet yet someone else with a mouse and scanner can rival your work because you make excuses and don't push yourself.

    The first rule of art should always be to rely on yourself and never blame your tools. If there's something wrong with your piece, its your skills that are lacking. Unless, of course, you have other reasonable factors in your life.

    So instead of saying "My [tool] is hard to draw with", say "I'm not used to my [tool]". And then it would be perfectly fine to say "I'm good at this" instead of "My tools make me good at this". Makes sense, yes?

    My whole point though, is that if you're any good, you can make anything work.

    And of course, to be good you'll have to practice. :3

    Last edited by Auxuris; May 9th, 2014 at 01:55 PM.
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    @Auxurus
    That's a huge chunk of text if i ever saw one! But i agree on the most parts.
    I agree with you especially on the whole 'talent' business.
    It backfired for me in a very interesting way. When i was younger i used to doodle and copy stuff a lot and was always being told "hurr durr you so talented!" by everyone around me, so i naturally started to believe it. But when i wanted to draw stuff from my imagination that looked great in my mind it turned out to be the worst thing since Hitler. After this i wanted to punch everyone in the face who told me i was 'talented'.
    Looking back I wish someone had told me that my art looked like shit because i wasn't practicing and had no understanding of what i was doing.

    Also the "My/his/her art is not bad, it's just my/his/her style!" seems to have become a drawing myth that is quite popular among teeangers these days.

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    A myth I really hate - you're an artist, right, so you can draw AAAAANYTHIIIING! In absolutely any style, with no reference needed - right?

    I used to do airbrush t shirts, and this is what people seemed to think. They also thought I could somehow read their minds and figure out precisely what they wanted even though they were utterly unable to express it clearly or show me anything similar. -- "No - not like that… more, well, you know - different!" and then comes the part where they get mad at me because of their inability to explain what they want. Pfft!!

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    "Draw what you see, not what you think."

    This one drives me crazy. My eyes trick me all the time. I see something and draw it only to realize that since I didn't understand what I was seeing, I drew it badly and that if I had put some more thought into it, it might have turned out better. Of course, I suppose that means I just need to get better at looking at what I'm actually looking at while I'm drawing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by vineris View Post
    Some of the most annoying myths:

    "You either have talent or you don't. If you have talent then drawing is easy and if you don't then you can never learn how to do it."

    "Artists just close their eyes and imagine something and then copy what they see in their head."

    "You can't use reference or look at anyone else's art, because if it doesn't come from inside you and nowhere else then it's CHEATING."
    yes, veneris i have heard these said too :-)

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    i think everyone can do it, as soon as they start being less ignorant, like some of the people in this thread are being.

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    Regarding the talent myth, it's true that lack of talent doesn't mean you're unable to be good at the particular thing you lack talent at; it just means you have to work a lot harder (and perhaps longer) than a talented person to achieve the same level of proficiency.

    I once met a very talented artist who hardly put any study in, so I guess that talent also affects one's practice-to-study ratio that determines what efforts are needed to become proficient.

    Oh, and I remembered another myth I found, which I find all over the internet.
    Person 1: What can I do to become good at drawing? :insertdetailshere:
    Person 2: Just practice! Really, that's just it!

    If mere practice alone was enough to make one proficient, people wouldn't need books like Loomis', or even art schools, for that matter.

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    one mans myth is another mans genius.

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    Quote Originally Posted by eezacque@xs4all.nl View Post
    The job of an artist is to show the beauty that others do not see: agreed.
    But, kitsch is beautiful to some, generic stylized forms, exaggerated decorative colors and shiny Photoshop effects are beautiful to some. Shouldn't artists job be to communicate through his work something that transcends "mere" beautification of a subject/scene? For example Turner's work changed the common perception of fog, people began to find it beautiful, but that's not where the true power of Turners work lies. Beneath the decorative and design aspects of a painting lies the meaningful content that communicates what is honest about life, how we humans interact with nature on a timelessly elemental, subconscious level. So an artist's job should be to comprehend these subtle characteristics of life that resonate as truthful to us and communicate them through the artistic medium. (if you call that beautiful than we are in agreement, but it still leaves "that others do not see" a bit problematic, because you actually have to know what to look for in order to see)

    Quote Originally Posted by Tespy View Post
    Regarding the talent myth, it's true that lack of talent doesn't mean you're unable to be good at the particular thing you lack talent at; it just means you have to work a lot harder (and perhaps longer) than a talented person to achieve the same level of proficiency.
    I'm not sure about the "same level of proficiency", there are plenty of hard working artists out there who will never achieve the greatness that we treasure on museum walls. I don't want to sound discouraging and it is true that discipline, willingness to learn and hard work can get you far, but I do think there are unlearnable characteristics that allow really great artists to sense structures of life on a more subtle level.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tespy View Post
    If mere practice alone was enough to make one proficient, people wouldn't need books like Loomis', or even art schools, for that matter.
    Generally it is so because most people don't possess the analytical and sensitive ability to process their learning curve and they don't have the discipline to train themselves outside the organized system of a school. But there were/are artists that never went to school and didn't use the "how to" drawing manuals. They achieved their level of artistic proficiency through sensitive observation of artworks and self discipline.

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    Regarding the talent myth, it's true that lack of talent doesn't mean you're unable to be good at the particular thing you lack talent at; it just means you have to work a lot harder (and perhaps longer) than a talented person to achieve the same level of proficience.
    Talent?, what the hell does it really mean?, does it mean your gifted or does it mean the same thing?, does it mean you don't have to work as hard as the next bloke, or is it just hard work gaining enough skills for people to call you talented?, and if "you" think someone is talented, is he talented to me?, people do throw that word around way to easily.

    there were a couple of talented artist at school when I was a teenager, but when I look back at it now they weren't that talented in fact they sucked, but everyone else sucked more, so were they talented or were they just better then everyone else?.

    so when you say "lack of talent", or talented person, I think your more saying they lack skill, or skilled person, when your been drawing for a few years its less about talent and more about hard work... anyway may the talented rule the world...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ales S. View Post
    But, kitsch is beautiful to some, generic stylized forms, exaggerated decorative colors and shiny Photoshop effects are beautiful to some. Shouldn't artists job be to communicate through his work something that transcends "mere" beautification of a subject/scene?
    I don't think beauty is universal...

    Grinnikend door het leven...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ales S. View Post
    I'm not sure about the "same level of proficiency", there are plenty of hard working artists out there who will never achieve the greatness that we treasure on museum walls. I don't want to sound discouraging and it is true that discipline, willingness to learn and hard work can get you far, but I do think there are unlearnable characteristics that allow really great artists to sense structures of life on a more subtle level.
    That people who work hard don't attain certain skills others who work less have isn't proof that those skills are unlearnable, just that those people are either studying the wrong things or are cognitively incapable of learning them. A huge factor here is of course also the fact that we don't have access to the academic tradition that painters in the 19th century for instance had. They are always going to have that huge "head start" if you will.

    If those characteristics are unlearnable, how did the "talented" artists attain them? Surely you're not claiming that they were born with those unlearnable abilities, I have never seen a toddler that could paint, draw or play an instrument.

    Sure, if you reduce talent to "highly motivated" and throw "above average intelligence" into the mix you've really got something going for that person. Both of these factors arent't necessarily "learnable" either (motivation might be though). But that's not what people usually mean when they use the word talent.

    Of course, you've also got the occasional wunderkind who has their brain wired differently and has a photographic memory or comparable assets that are unattainable for a "normal" brain. One might call that "talent". We mustn't forget that those people also often have great difficulties with other aspect of life though- and I find it improbable that all the great painters like Sargent, Zorn, Bouguereau, Mucha etc. all had this or similar conditions.

    It's not that I can conclusively prove it, but I think for the avergae human being without any specific brain "abnormalities", the main factors in this equation are motivation and above average intelligence. The first enables you to put in the hours needed, the second facilitates learning of every kind and enables one to spend the right amount of time on the right things. In extreme cases one might do with just one of them, with intelligence being the less important factor. But it certainly is a catalyst.

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    I don't buy into the talent thing at all, look at schools like Watts Atelier. They consistently turn out competent artists. Same with the Chinese system. Most of the time they do it in 5 years. Critical thinking is important and the ability to avoid Dunning Kruger effects which seems rampant in America because of all the disabling ideas about teaching here.

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    I buy into the talent thing.

    I think that talent is essentially an artist's ability to fall into a state of belief about the work he is making, while also making it. Which is another way of saying that a strong artist's imagination can vivify complexes of symbols into characters that behave as if real. Most artists cannot penetrate beyond the surface of their pictures. All great artists can... their art is something they see through, as if it were a mere veil over the actual "reality" they are seeing. The process of mark-making is more like auto-writing or transcribing to them than some technical procedure.

    Talent, however, is freed by good information and encouragement, and fed by experience in life and by experience of great art. So it is often hard to tell just what anybody's artistic talent is, the extent of it, unless it is given every chance to blossom.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dpaint View Post
    I don't buy into the talent thing at all, look at schools like Watts Atelier. They consistently turn out competent artists. Same with the Chinese system. Most of the time they do it in 5 years. Critical thinking is important and the ability to avoid Dunning Kruger effects which seems rampant in America because of all the disabling ideas about teaching here.
    A little interesting side note on the Dunning-Kruger effect:
    "The study was inspired by the case of McArthur Wheeler, a man who robbed two banks after covering his face with lemon juice in the mistaken belief that it would prevent his face from being recorded on surveillance cameras."

    What a great way to start a study on ignorance and ineptitude.

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    If there is no such thing as talent, how come there are some 15 year old kids that have only been drawing for 2-3 years "as a hobby" and draw like they were born with it? Witchcraft, blood magic?

    It all began with a crocodile sketch...

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    Quote Originally Posted by helila View Post
    If there is no such thing as talent, how come there are some 15 year old kids that have only been drawing for 2-3 years "as a hobby" and draw like they were born with it? Witchcraft, blood magic?
    First of all, 2-3 years is an amount of time where you can learn an awful lot, especially when headed in the right direction. Quite a lot of art schools have a program for 2-3 years. Second, I have seen 15 year old kids who show a good deal of focus and self-discipline, are getting a good grasp of the basics, but I have yet to see one who blows me straight out of my socks. And no, I am not impressed by kids who can copy manga so wel...

    Grinnikend door het leven...
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    Quote Originally Posted by helila View Post
    If there is no such thing as talent, how come there are some 15 year old kids that have only been drawing for 2-3 years "as a hobby" and draw like they were born with it? Witchcraft, blood magic?
    Dedication, above average intelligence and discipline.

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    You guys do realize I was joking, right?

    It all began with a crocodile sketch...

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    Quote Originally Posted by helila View Post
    You guys do realize I was joking, right?
    Well, now i do. Shame on me!
    But in defence of Jester and me, i must say that there are in fact a lot of people who foolishly mistake complex concepts like self-discipline, focus, dedication and awareness of the own learning process for 'talent'.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kev ferrara View Post
    I buy into the talent thing.
    I think both views- that expressed by people who have previously stated that talent doesn't exist (including myself) and yours- are actually quite compatible.

    We simply differ greatly in what we mean by talent. What mainly has been talked about in this thread is what laymen mean by talent- an "unlearnable", naturally given technical skill. I really do believe that this is a myth.

    What you're refering to, I think, is a skill or ability that is much more complex & much harder to grasp or even verbalize. It is a notion that largely escapes the layman.

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    The greater ‘myth’ concerning talent is the one which claims that it does not exist.
    Basically, talent IS aptitude. Talent typically is expressed as a capacitive predisposition to initially perform a novel task above average. The ‘head start’ plateaus quickly at which point the same level of hard work and perseverance is required to achieve mastery at something as it does for the untalented. It has nothing to do with learned experience. You can’t confuse achieved skill with talent. No one is born with the specific ability to draw exceptionally well. Some people do have a constellation of capacities that, when working in concert, happen to manifest in a higher than average ability to perform well at a specific novel task, which is usually unpredictable prior to expression.

    …in my opinion

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tiggeraz View Post
    Well, now i do. Shame on me!
    But in defence of Jester and me, i must say that there are in fact a lot of people who foolishly mistake complex concepts like self-discipline, focus, dedication and awareness of the own learning process for 'talent'.
    Sure, I can understand that.

    Regarding the thread, the myth I hate most about art that it "has no real use." Well then, enjoy your blank, empty world.

    It all began with a crocodile sketch...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Benedikt View Post
    That people who work hard don't attain certain skills others who work less have isn't proof that those skills are unlearnable, just that those people are either studying the wrong things or are cognitively incapable of learning them. A huge factor here is of course also the fact that we don't have access to the academic tradition that painters in the 19th century for instance had. They are always going to have that huge "head start" if you will.
    I agree with this.

    Quote Originally Posted by Benedikt View Post
    Surely you're not claiming that they were born with those unlearnable abilities, I have never seen a toddler that could paint, draw or play an instrument.
    I actually do claim that. Not the drawing ability itself, but the sensitive ability to penetrate through the complexities of life that surrounds us. This is what I think – nature is too complex for humans to fully process and comprehend every situation in all it's possibilities at any given moment, so we develop various tendencies and rules to hold things out, we tend to "dumb down" or simplify our every day life with our ability to comprehend, with our thinking patterns and beliefs that answer to our sense of comfort and truth, and our brains are wired that way too (for example D.Hoffman explains how our visual intelligence does that by constructing generic rules for us that simplify our interaction with the world similarly as user interface simplifies the complexity of Windows code).

    On the other hand there is sensitivity that enables greater awareness of the subtle, people differ considerably in how much their nervous system is aroused in the same situation, under the same stimulation (E. Aron wrote about HSPs (highly sensitive people that represent 15-20% of the population), J.Kagan tested babies who later showed this trait and they had cooler foreheads on the right side which indicated greater activity of that side of the brain (less linear, more creative in a synthesizing way), studies of identical twins proved genetic predisposition, etc.). People who are more sensitive are prone to see more details and implications, they are better at spotting errors and avoiding making errors, there are very conscientious and tend to think a lot about their own thinking, they are able to concentrate deeply, process material more subtly (semantic memory), they have better intuition and are able to learn without being aware of it, they are more deeply affected by other people moods and emotions, they are aware and conscious of little things like other people looking at them and silently judging them, they never have enough education/experiences, and so on.

    (there is a price to pay for all that tho, since they pick up on the subtleties that others don't notice, they naturally arrive to overarousal (and discomfort, irritation) much faster (Kagan noticed that body fluids of sensitive kids show indications of high levels of norepinephrine (brain version of adrenaline) present in their brains after stimulation) and some tend to have various problems because of that)

    More sensitive people have a built in tendency to gather more (subtle) data because they have hightened awareness of everything that tends to escape others, they react more strongly to external stimuli and consequently gives them a good predisposition for appreciation of the subtlest beauties of life. Aron also said that they tend to have more vivid, alarming, "archetypal" dreams and with coming of darkness, subtle sounds and shapes begin to rule the imagination of sensitive kids because they sense them more. Sensitive people are according to her also strongly affected by music and have statistically high interest in arts and spirituality.

    There is a topic here where people explain which artists they admire now that they get art. That "get" is where I think the valuable things are (you don't "get" the technical ability in the same sense), but it doesn't happen only once. The "get"'s come with discovering new layers, you don't just get Rembrandt, you get him many times. Delacroix said that the older he becomes, better Rembrandt gets. Van Gogh later agreed with that. I think It's up to ones sensitivity (and knowledge, life experiences, etc.) to penetrate through all these layers and to become susceptible for the full strength of the artistic communication. Sometimes I discover a certain layer only after I acquire a sensitive awareness for something in real life, so I think many people who get Rembrandt now will appreciate him even more once/if they (including me) become sensitively aware of the truth of how it is to be an old, confident, proud, etc. man from his selfportraits.

    So that's where I'm coming from, if the ability to gather subtle sensuous informations in a complex real life and the ability to manifest it visually through artistic medium (as Kev said) is linked to ones (apparently predetermined) sensitivity (and/or maybe something else), I guess shows, that not everyone of us has a chance to create works like those of Rembrandt, Turner, Sargeant, Everett, Wyeth,...

    Quote Originally Posted by Benedikt View Post
    Of course, you've also got the occasional wunderkind who has their brain wired differently and has a photographic memory or comparable assets that are unattainable for a "normal" brain. One might call that "talent". We mustn't forget that those people also often have great difficulties with other aspect of life though- and I find it improbable that all the great painters like Sargent, Zorn, Bouguereau, Mucha etc. all had this or similar conditions.
    Yes, really rare and extreme characteristics of autistic people and other brain abnormalities shouldn't be a criteria for talent, especially since great artists didn't even have them. But high sensitivity can/should be there. Our artistic expressiveness depends on it and most people do not possess it in such an intense serviceability. I think the concept of talent needs something inaccessible to most, it can not be "just" knowledge, understanding, learned skills and gained abilities.

    Last edited by Ales S.; June 19th, 2014 at 11:19 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Benedikt View Post
    It's not that I can conclusively prove it, but I think for the avergae human being without any specific brain "abnormalities", the main factors in this equation are motivation and above average intelligence. The first enables you to put in the hours needed, the second facilitates learning of every kind and enables one to spend the right amount of time on the right things. In extreme cases one might do with just one of them, with intelligence being the less important factor. But it certainly is a catalyst.
    I wish you were right, man, but sometimes I meet people who have an ability to spot hidden, invisible things, to synthesize various concepts into enlightening new thoughts, to skip what others would consider self evidently necessary processes, who instinctively sense the greatness of giants, who have charisma pouring through their writings/drawings and imagination that makes you want to leave real life, who have extremely active self consciousness and presence where you feel like they exist outside the Matrix code, … and thinking that one could do the same If he was to invest a lot of time and work with intellectual approach sounds to me a bit like a self consolation. Didn't you ever get a feeling that some people have some sort of critical, analytical, sensitive mechanism in the background that you really can't compete with no matter how much motivation, work or time you'd invest? Intelligence is important too, yes, but I don't think it "facilitates learning of every kind".

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