Archive for February, 2010

God Given Talent

February 13, 2010


For most of my life I was told that I had a God given talent, a gift.  For many years I believed it.  I could just look at something and draw it and the rest of the kids in my class couldn’t.  How cool was that?  I could do something that nobody else could do.  This was a nice thing because I couldn’t spell or read and this sort of made up for that.  I knew I had that thing called “talent” because the teacher told me I had it.  It was something that even the teacher couldn’t teach the other kids.   The teacher told me it was a gift from God.  Here’s a picture of me before I got my gift.  I don’t look that creative do I?  The second picture is of me after I opened God’s present and you can see the spark of genius in my eye.  Look closely.  Off I went on my journey through life as an artistic marvel.  I went to art school where the instructors said my work looked like stuff so it wasn’t serious art.  Serious art no longer required me to draw or even do anything other than find some junk and then tell everybody it was now art.  Wow! how easy is that.  The art world began to look like the sequel to The Emperors New Cloths.  Nobody seemed to be courageous enough to say they didn’t see it.  If you said it was crap you were scolded by the “experts” holding up their degrees.  I have to admit that what they were doing was pretty smart.  If I was running a university that taught all kinds of things to anyone that paid me to teach them, why would I turn people away just because there was no method of teaching art.  All I’d need to do is say is, “Representational art is bad and non-representational art is good” and now the art students don’t need to be able to draw a straight line to get a degree.  Makes perfect business sense to me.  The sad fact is, and most of you will remember this, that academia had no idea of how to teach anybody to draw.  The teacher would say something like, “Just be free and let it flow”.  Isn’t it great that they didn’t teach you to read like that.  Oh sure there was the Basic Shapes method where you could draw a parrot head by starting with the basic shape of a circle.  The problem is that the method worked just as well if you wanted to draw a circle by starting with a parrot head.  If you didn’t have the “gift” it wasn’t going to happen.  So, we were left with the idea that God just played favorites.  That we weren’t equal.  That’s where things were for the first thirty something years of my life.  Everybody believed it.  Until, Dr. Sperry came along with his research on how the two sides of the brain process information.  He won the Noble Prize and didn’t have to do a slide show or even apologize to Europe.  What he found out was that the two sides deal with different kinds of problems.  Our left side handles language, numbers, logic, common sense and just about anything that makes a good business person.  That doesn’t sound like anyone I know that draws.  The good news is that the right side works with line, form, values, perspective and the relationships between things.  The reason some of us can draw and most of us can’t is that at puberty one of the sides takes over and becomes the dominate hemisphere.  Yes, I had a dominant right side.  It’s a good thing that most humans end up with the left side in control or we might have died out like the big lizards.  The people that did the cave drawings were most likely eaten by something big while they were looking for more painting supplies.  Here’s the good news 1. God made us equal, you can draw.   The bad news is; 1. It takes hard work just like anything else.  More good news; 1. It will only take 4 hours a week for ten weeks to teach yourself to use the right side and draw anything really well.  More bad news; 1. That’s just the first tool you will need in your box of tricks.  Good news; 1. You’ll be on your way to becoming an artist.  When I began using the methods that were developed by Betty Edwards with Dr Sperry, I would tell students that I would pay their tuition back if they couldn’t do a professional grade portrait at the end of the semester.  I paid one student in the first two years of teaching at Indian River Community College.  You might say that I did have a gift and that the gift was that I already had a dominant right side and I didn’t have to work hard to draw like everyone else.  True, but the left side came easy to the rest of you and I had to work very hard to learn to use the left side.  It does even out in the end.  Look at my face, would I lie.