Is Art An Natural Gift, Or Can Anyone Be Good At Art If They Practice?

Self-Portrait as Saint Catherine of Alexandria

Many people ask, if great artists are just born that way, or are they great because of practice, education, and hard work.

Most artists have some natural gift or desire to be an artist. But it is through their education, hard work, practice, and association with other artists that make all the difference. Having a natural gift is the start to becoming an artist, but just having a natural gift will not make you a good artist. Becoming a great artist requires practice, education, and a lot of hard work.

Born An Artist

No doubt, many people are born with a natural talent for art. From the time they are young, they love art and anything to do with creating art.

As they enter school, they may find that they are much better at art than any other subject. They may find that they excel in all their art classes but struggle with math.

Some people are more visually focused than others. When they look at nature, they do not just see a mountain; they also see the colors, textures, and everything in nature.

Nancy Locke, an Associated Professor in Art History at Penn State, said:

“There is no question in my mind that artists are born. Many artists arrive in the world brimming with passion and natural creativity and become artists after trying other vocations. Before he had devoted himself to art, Van Gogh tried to be a minister among poor miners in Belgium. He just frightened and overwhelmed people. He was too intense to act effectively in that capacity.”

Nancy Locke

Anyone who is an artist will tell you they are drawn to be an artist because they feel an inclination for art. There is something unexplainable inside them that draws them to art and the art world.

Artists Are Created With Practice

Artists are also created with education, hard work, and practice. A person can be born as an artist and have a natural ability and inclination, but it will still take consistent hard work, education, and practice to become an artist.

I recently entered a very tough art competition that had a lot of entries. The first time I entered the competition, I did not even make it to round one. This last time I got to round two – the next time, I hope to make it to another round.

This is the way that art goes. You have to keep at your art, continue to practice, learn to accept defeat while continuing. That is why just being born with natural ability is not enough. Many people are born with natural ability, but those who consistently practice, learn, and work hard will eventually win out in the end.

Art is like a community. It is also why so many great artists worked together in the same studio or were educated at the same schools. There is so much we can learn by being in an artist community.

Nancy Locke from Penn State also went on and said:

“Artists are also made; they require training, education and a culture of other artists, often an urban culture. Put an artist in isolation and nobody can learn anything from the work. Artists have to be in touch with other artists, building on what other artists have done,”

Nancy Locke

Art is also about having a community – a group. It is about surrounding yourself with people who can help you to become a better artist.

Portrait of a Nun (1618) by Artemisia Gentileschi

Lessons From 17th Century Rome – Artemisia Gentileschi

The 17th-century Baroque painter, Orazio Gentileschi, had four children, three sons, and one daughter. He gave all his children the finest art education.

But it was only his daughter Artemisia who became a famous artist and not his sons. Artemisia went on to become an artist that not all matched but surpassed her father’s artistic skills.

His three sons followed Orazio around as he traveled Europe, and maybe they even assisted him a bit – we do not know – but we do know that when he went to London, his sons followed him there while his daughter Artemisia was still in Florence.

Orazio thought that one of his sons would follow in his footsteps and not his daughter. But it was the daughter – despite challenges – who became a great artist. When Artemisia was about 17 years old, she was being tutored by one of her father’s colleagues Agostino Tassi.

During one of their tutoring sessions, Agostino Tassi raped Artemisia. When Tassi refused to marry Artemisia, her father pursued a long and brutal trial against him for rape charges. Throughout the trial, Artemisa was subjected to humiliation. Eventually, Tassi was convicted and exiled from Rome, but the order was never enforced.

Artemisa married a painter from Florence named Pietro Antonio de Vincenzo Stiattesi. She relocated from Rome to Florence with her new husband. They had one child, a daughter who lived into adulthood. Her marriage was not happy, but it allowed her to flourish as an artist in Florence.

We can learn a lot from this story. Artemisia was born with artistic ability, but she achieved greatness through her consistent efforts and education. Artemisa overcame obstacles and gender bias to become the first female member of the Academy of Design in Florence and the only woman to follow and innovate upon the art tradition of painting established by Caravaggio.

From Artemisia, we learn that you can be born with artistic ability. But it is education, consistency, and overcoming the obstacles in life that can make the difference in who is a great artist and was successful with their art.

That is why for most artists, it is a combination of having both a natural gift and education, community, training, and consistent hard work and effort. A variety of all these things makes a difference in whether an artist will succeed with their artwork.

Having a natural gift in art is only the start, but it is not everything you need to succeed as an artist.

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Anita Louise Hummel

Hi, I am Anita Louise Hummel. I am an artist and a blogger. I paint mainly oil paints. I love to paint women, animals (mainly dogs and cats), and abstracts. I use a lot of gold and silver leaf in my paintings. I also love to blog about anything to do with art, business, Procreate, and all the wonderful artists that inspire me.

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Is Art An Natural Gift, Or Can Anyone Be Good At Art If They Practice?