To be or not to be talented...
The other day, Gitte said to me "oh you are so talented" as she watched me sketch the scenery in Bern. "I could never do that" she added. This is something people often say to me. While I am flattered, I don't actually believe in talent. I believe in love and diligence. So I said to Gitte, "No, I think it's not talent, I think it's about practice and loving it enough to keep at it."
Leonardo da Vinci (1452 -1519) said: "The young painter must first learn perspective; then the mass of all things; then he must apprentice himself to a good master, in order to accustom himself to good bodily forms; then to nature, in order to memorise what he has learnt; then to spend time contemplating works by different masters; then to accustom himself to put everything into practice and to practice the art himself.... The painter's mind must ceaselessly pursue as many trains of thought as are the forms of visible life which appear before his eyes, and these he must record and draw down to himself, and gain rules from them, taking into account the place and circumstances, light and shade."
I have, on the whole, kept to Leonardo's stipulation for the education of an artist. I think it is still just as relevant today. I found an excellent master and I have been fortunate enough to spend many happy hours in various museums around the world. I take my sketchbook with me wherever I go. I spent the last 10 years studying art theory and philosophy with Martin Rabe. Basically doing everything achieve the level I have today. And because I love it, because it fascinates me, I don't want to stop.
At school I won prizes for "diligence", meaning I didn't give up on something, even if I wasn't particularly good at it. And for me, painting and drawing is like that. I simply can't give up on it. I love it, I see the need for it and I am constantly pushing myself to get better. I get grumpy if I can't paint for a longer period of time.
The ability to transform a three dimensional shape, a feeling, an emotion onto something which mirrors and elevates it in two dimensions is not easy. Max Beckmann (1884-1950) always wanted to capture the "fourth dimension" in his paintings - that would be the pinnacle. It's not about "talent" - it is years of work and keeping at it. For me art is not the easy option, but definitely the most enjoyable one and the only one I still find endlessly fascinating and inspiring.
If you want to read more about me as an artist, read "Why I make art"