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January 30, 2008


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Barney Davey

Hi Sue,

Thanks for the kind words about my book. You are right, I did rate talent at the top of the list. Talent is not as tough a topic as quality was for Robert Pirsig in his classic book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintainence. But, like quality, it is subjective decision. On my www.artprintissues.com blog, I had a post in December titled, The Power of Beleiving in Yourself. It was encouragement to not give up when others who should know better have judged you poorly. I suppose keeping faith in trying circumstances is a talent in itself.

In the book, what I was referring to was pure talent as a painter or visual artist. It seems to me that no amount of practice or determination will help if the basic ingredient for success in a certain field is not there. If I'm tone deaf with no sense of timing, I'm never going to make it as a professional musician. I might by rote and grit learn to play well enough to amuse myself or close circle of friends, but getting paid for playing is unrealisitic. The same goes for visual artists, or any other endeavor. If I have the band width and stamina to become a surgeon, but lack fine motor skills and coordination, it's not a good fit. Maybe the lesson is to learn what we are good at doing and to follow that path. It certainly can avoid much frustration and heartache when the inevitable reality sets in that we aren't going to play pro ball, or get people to pay for paintings, or whatever misguided path we've put ourselves on. Perhaps that is why books such as Finding Your Own North Star by Martha Beck and Wishcraft by Barbara Sher are so popular and valuable.


Good Mornin' Sue
What a can of worms you have opened!
Talent. Creativity. Whether it is shared with ourselves as self-actualization. Or with the rest of the world -- for -- approval? A confirmation of our abilities?
For many years, i've believed fervantly that all people are born with talent. And creativity. Very young children exhibit these qualities in abundance.
Thus, believing that these qualities are an integral part of human nature - why do some people exhibit them more than others and some not at all . . . .
I tend to believe that culture (a behaviorial society) inhibits displayed talent and fosters instead a "follow-along, be the same as everyone else" perspective of what a person ought to be. Society also (currently) pushes the concept that "success" is economically motivated by how much one earns and how much one has.
Neither creativity nor talent follow along those lines and both more or less sidestep both considerations.
Company at the door ...


I appreciate the connection you've drawn to those outside of the art world. As a non-artist, but avid reader of your blog, I can appreciate how you've captured and shared Maslow's notion of the cycle of self-actualization. I much prefer this rendition to the end-point pyramid version we've grown accustomed to. I think that for artists, self-actualization is a very real, and maybe even common (those of you out there, correct me if I am wrong) experience, and it is one that I often find myself very jealous of. The feeling of having created something, especially something that other people enjoy looking at, or connect to, or even better, want to buy and hang on their walls in their home, is an experience I will never have, outside of a few strange attempts at pottery in college (thanks to my mom for telling me that these strange pots are beautiful). I suppose my comment is that I appreciate the meaning behind this post, and what I have taken away from it is that the world would be a very strange place if people only did something because of their "talent" for it, and while it is the case that those who have experience self-actualization generally have a gift or talent, never having done something for the sheer pleasure in doing it seems very sad to me. Great post! Gives me a lot to think about - maybe it's not to late to give that old pottery wheel another spin!

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