Recently a friend made a comment to me along the lines of, "But you are really good at art" and it has led me to reflect on my introduction to Art and creativity. Was there a single moment or time when it just happened or was it always there, born into me and decided at conception, just like my skin colour, my sexuality, the shape of my eyes? I don't know and I'm not sure we ever will but I guess we humans are a multi - layered species, whereby exposure and experiences during our lifetime mould and shape us and allow different layers to rise to the surface at different times. Sometimes what is in us to do, rises to the surface no matter what our circumstances or environment.
So what does it mean to be 'good at Art?'. I don't think there is such a thing really. I guess its a broad term and generally meant as a compliment. I am ok at drawing and painting I guess but does this in itself make me artistic? Creative? Its certainly not the only avenue that a person can fulfil a desire to create. Up until I was in my late teens, my view of what 'Art' was had been cultured by my teachers and society. I had no idea how vast the scope of Art truly was. How you could lack drawing, painting or sculpting skills yet still be fabulously creative and expressive - even within the visual arts world. You actually don't always have to be technically brilliant to make something people love. Having the technical know how and tools to make and create is handy to achieve the exact effect you want but it is not essential. Being told you are 'good at art' is also a very subjective line. I guess it depends on who said it to you, their preferences, experience and exposure to all things Art. If my sister says I am good at art, it carries less critical weight than if Charles Saatchi or Tracey Emin said the same thing to me. I suppose its the equivalent of going on Britain's got talent after your mum told you you were great, only for Simon Cowell to tell you the truth. Explicitly though, we all need criticism to move forward and develop whether it is from Charles Saatchi or our mum.
Back to the whole nature v nurture thing. So does natural born talent exist? I believe it does to varying degrees. Not all children born with a talent for piano will become the next Beethoven, some will be better than others depending on their environment and opportunities. I was fortunate to be born in a first world country and afforded a fair and free education, exposed to all subjects and learning from the age of 4. If we aren't born with a certain prevalence to topics, then why am I shockingly bad at maths? I had the same number of maths classes, in fact, probably more, than art classes. Logically I should be better at maths than art but that is most definitely not the case. So did I have a fantastic art teacher? Not really. Mrs Worthington was a fairly narrow-minded, traditional woman who thought those who were better at drawing and painting were better artists than those who were not as good. Which life has taught me, is not the case. Art in the 90's classroom was delivered in a very traditional, stoic way and those who didn't enjoy drawing, painting or cutting lino wth blunt instruments were kind of left behind. The sad thing was, looking back now I think of all the creative minds that surrounded me but because they maybe weren't fantastic at drawing, were not seen to be suitable for the study of art. It seems like such a waste, such a missed opportunity. I like to think that as life progressed, those individuals overcame such hurdles and carried on their creative path in some way.
I saw an article the other day about being born with a talent and how something something...right brain something...something...versus left brain...something...either one or the other etc.... I can only talk from the benefit of my experience. I am an artist. Turns out, I always was an artist, but life took me on a necessary detour before I found my way back. I am an artist that enjoys and understands science, law, psychology, literature. I have a degree in Environmental Health, but no degree in Art, just a lowly 'A level'. I don't like the theory of being put on one side or another, artistic or logical - like somehow the two are mutually exclusive and I am an artistic, illogical mess. Look at the great M.C. Escher who combined his two loves: Mathematics and Art. I might approach something in a different way to another person, but I think we are all allowed that - there aren't just two ways to approach something 'Right brained or Left brained'. And what I consider beautiful and attractive may not be for the next person.
So, good at art? Maybe. We can all be good at art in one way or another, we all create all the time, we maybe just don't recognise it as traditional 'Art'. I think its harder to be bad at art actually because anything made with passion or driven by a need to create, is beautiful to somebody. It has come from the soul, so like it or not, its Art. If something is created with the attempt to be 'bad' then it too is by default, Art and is only 'bad' from a certain point of view. Whether it is saleable, mainstream, challenging, interesting, distasteful or offensive is a different point and does not make art 'good' or 'bad'. Every kind of person makes art and there is art out there for every kind of person.