What’s talent, anyway?

I was kidnapped by a friend several times last week. Said friend mistreated me with ice creams, delicious lunchs, trips to Tarifa, dinners and beers. Somehow, I managed to go camping to the beach side with my best friends too. And along the way, I’ve been working out, reading like a mad woman, and unfortunately, I’ve been (I am) ill too.

Translation: I haven’t painted a thing. 

Do not fret, my friends. I made myself sit down this morning to start a new piece. However,  I am not happy at all with the sketch (thus, the lack of picture of it) and I was so incredibly frustrated after a few attempts that I decided to leave it until I was in a better frame of mind. See? This happens constantly to me. Insecurity takes a hold of me every time I start something new, because I believe I will never be able to transform my thoughts into something worth looking at. It’s only when I’m stubborn enough to overcome those initial doubts that I end up finishing what I’ve started.

For those of you who believe that painting is just second nature to some of us, that it doesn’t require dedication, patience and hard work, you’re completely and utterly wrong. Talent without a backup is wasted talent. Talent will get you nowhere if you rely exclusively on that, if you wait for it to give you the best of you. Talent is volatile and unstable. Haruki Murakami expressed what I’m trying to say brilliantly in Norwegian Wood, one of my favorite books:

“I know I have a pretty good sense for music, but she was better than me. I used to think it was such a waste! I thought, ‘If only she had started out with a good teacher and gotten the proper training, she’d be so much further along!’ But I was wrong about that. She was not the kind of child who could stand proper training. There just happen to be people like that. They’re blessed with this marvelous talent, but they can’t make the effort to systematize it. They end up squandering it in little bits and pieces. I’ve seen my share of people like that. At first you think they’re amazing. Like, they can sight-read some terrifically difficult piece and do a damn good job playing it all the way through. You see them do it, and you’re overwhelmed. you think, ‘I could never do that in a million years.’ But that’s as far as they go. They can’t take it any further. And why not? Because they won’t put in the effort. Because they haven’t had the discipline pounded into them. They’ve been spoiled. They have just enough talent so they’ve been able to play things well without any effort and they’ve had people telling them how great they are from the time they’re little, so hard work looks stupid to them. They’ll take some piece another kid has to work on for three weeks and polish it off in half the time, so the teacher figures they’ve put enough into it and lets them go to the next thing. And they do that in half the time and go on to the next piece. They never find out what it means to be hammered by the teacher; they lose out on a certain element required or character building. It’s a tragedy.”

So yes, I am not one of the talented kids that gets the easy approval by doing what feels good to them. I am a firm believer of the trial- error method and a constant participant of it. In truth, I haven’t studied anything related to art, I only went to painting classes when I was 10 years old (and didn’t last long in them) and I hadn’t had any contact with watercolors until 6 months ago. However, whatever comes out of this insanity of mine is not the result of talent. While painting, I have to fight my insecurities into submission. I have to do ad re-do sketches a hundred times. I spend hours just looking at what I’ve drawn or painted to decide if I actually like what I’ve created. It doesn’t come easy to me. I make it come.

I’ll leave you some pictures of the places I’ve been to lately. Hopefully, next time I’ll be sharing pictures of new paintings!

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