Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Who is more Talented (Qualified): The Graduate or the Gifted?

"My great granddaughter, Kayla, looking through a door window. I'm going to turn
this into a painting titled: "Looking Outward" (implying looking toward the future).
A debate is ongoing in "Linked in" about this question: “Do you need a degree to be a successful artist?”

The initiator of that question was not necessarily supporting this idea, but simply generating discussion. She even suggested that perhaps amateurs and those less educated should stay out of the market and away from art shows. She wondered if just anyone who applies paint to canvas should be allowed to call themselves an artist.

This topic got my blood and that of others to boil. For one thing, the insinuation disregards innate talent, self-education obtained through taking classes, and the hours of practice and skill obtained through one’s own efforts.

"A friend gave me an old window I am going to use as a frame. The child will be
painted on the surface of the glass in oils."
Even though a good art education gives you a wonderful foundation and a solid infrastructure of knowledge to hang your hat on, rarely does someone begin a successful career the minute the miter board comes off and the gown is retired.

My journey was long and hard fought. While raising six children, my time was not only limited, but so was the money. Extra funds went into piano lessons and athletic activities for the children. When I had more time, the extra money went into their college educations
I had an insatiable appetite for learning. Since we made many trips to the Public Library in those days, selecting books I could read to my children and those they could read on their own, I checked out books for myself, and read those I couldn’t while we were there.

"I'm going to use this scene as a background; painted separately on canvas that
will be attached from behind, creating depth."
I know from previous experience that in classes at university, your mind may wander, and you may get distracted. You prepare for tests rather than for life. When you’re self-taught, the motivation is a driving force from within. It’s a hunger that propels you from one step to another. To say that this kind of learning is inadequate or invaluable is like saying that life itself is a waste of time.

Every experience we have, every piece of knowledge we retain and remember is valuable and adds to the enormous amount of information a person obtains over a lifetime. Additionally, when the mind is focused on the prize, or on the subjects that are loved, information is hungrily consumed and digested. Skills are developed through diligent practice and painful but revealing error. Time is used wisely because to waste it would corrupt the passion that is a driving force.

To say that we have no right to practice what we’ve worked diligently to achieve is ludicrous, with or without acquired credentials. Someone remarked that in order to call yourself a Doctor, you must have paid the price or you can’t practice medicine. If you don’t have a law degree, you cannot then become an attorney. Does art then fall into this same category?

"This small dog will be included in the background. He
is looking up at the child, wanting to come in."
The detractors have a point, to a point. But in the arts, innate gifts and hard work trump all. There is something to be said for obtaining a degree. It tells the world that you spent time and money to gain knowledge in your field. The diploma allows you to teach with authority.

But a bird doesn’t fly until he flaps his wings and leaves the nest. And what about those child prodigies you see on “America’s got Talent?” How does a 13 year old child sing like a professional without training? How does an artist touch the hearts and minds of viewers without a degree?

The soul is the instrument upon which God plays. Who can explain beauty except from personal perception? Who can measure inborn talent in the quest for perfection? To limit the scope of who has a right to perform and when is to stifle all that we cherish about free speech and self fulfillment.

Since this is a "mixed-media" project, the dog and background will be painted in acrylic on canvas. The child in oil on top of the glass. I also want to add a folding drape over the blanket and onto the frame, to give the whole window a three-dimensional look.

"fabric soaked in Elmer's glue and water will be added as a drape, to create a
three-dimensional matching blanket overflowing onto the frame."