I Ain’t Got No Stinkin’ Talent

Cassandra Tondro Pink Drift

Greetings Dear Friends,

I was an art major my first year of college. I lasted about two months before I dropped out, and I didn’t pick up a paint brush again for 25 years.

It seemed like everyone in my art classes already knew how to draw and paint — realistically, of course, because that was the only type of art that was taught at the time.

I felt like I was the only student there without talent, and clearly I wasn’t cut out to be an artist. So I gave up my dream, and became a computer programmer instead.

I was still creative in other ways. In my spare time, I was involved with quilting, weaving, crochet and other fiber arts, which felt safer to me than painting. I yearned to paint, but I was also terrified, because I didn’t think I could do it.

I knew that I would regret it if I didn’t try painting, so I summoned the courage to take a class. My early efforts were pathetic, and it took about ten years of struggle and trial-and-error before I had any painting I was willing to show. That’s a lot of bad paintings!

Does any of this sound familiar to you? From what I’ve heard, lots of people have similar stories. Fear about not being creative, feeling like a fraud, misconceptions about talent.

The truth is we’re all capable of being artists in our own unique way. Our art may take the form of driving a cab, accounting, plumbing, cooking or rescuing stray cats.

It’s not about talent. It is our love of our calling and our devotion to it elevates it to the status of art.

Part of our purpose here on Earth is to honor our calling and to be our authentic selves. That is our gift to the world, and that is our art.

What’s your calling, and to what do you devote your time? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

Wishing you a joyful and creative year, in whatever form creativity takes for you.

With love and appreciation,
Cassandra

Painting at top: “On Angel Wings,” diptych, 20″ x 48″, repurposed acrylic latex paint on canvas

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12 Comments

  1. Hello, Your words are so timely in my world right now. My husband and I are artist and belong to a group of fellow artists, the average age of the members was 65, so because we do not paint or draw to exact duplication of what we see they dismiss us. Some people have such a tiny box, so sad. We are now searching for a group with more artistic art. Thank you.

  2. It seemed to be, when I was young, that drawing was just for fun. In our poor household, we never had anything but a pencil. That was my definition of art then. I never remember having extra paper or color crayons; that was only in school. Growing up on a farm, when work was valued and no one even mentioned art, I studied math and sciences. I stumbled onto ‘art’ in college and only began to pursued it at 19 yrs, this after a stint with pre-med and engineering. Since then, I realized that my life has been connected to art. I sewed, knitted, crocheted, embroidered since I was really young and now, consider it an art form. Today, I teach and learn all sorts of arts and crafts and love it.

  3. You have a beautiful story and I share in the frustration of feeling I am not an artist in any sense…doubting myself. I come from a mom and her 3 sisters that were all artists, amazing in every type of art. My mom sold in galleries and was talented in every art realm. She painted, made figurines out of clay, lamps, and could sketch people in seconds. Always wished I had her gifts. When she passed away, I took an abstract painting class to connect with her memory. I was not good and gave it up. Someday I will try again. Love seeing your paintings and evolution of them and you. Thank you for your presence online.

  4. I want to thank you all for your comments! I’m enjoying hearing your stories and your perspectives on art and talent. @dotyuki, your story makes me realize that art is a privilege that many people don’t have. And @sandi, yes, having a parent who is very talented can be difficult. It’s like comparing yourself to other artists and coming up short, but your artistic vision is unique and something only you can offer the world. @KimMoore, good for you for seeing that the realistic group is not for you and looking elsewhere for support and comraderie. I’m in awe of all of you for your resilience and persistence. You rock!

  5. I have enjoyed entering your world of art via the web. It has certainly encouraged me to keep trying to improve my skills as I walk this journey. I am in my early seventies and struggled over the years with the question of art versus craft versus hobby etc. All I know is that I continue to be inspired and healed by all things in the natural world. The hands are the instruments of the spirit as I have worked over the years with protein and cellulose fibres in the form of felting and dyeing. Art in any form that releases the human spirit and makes it sing is a good thing. If the result of your work and passion is something that makes others happy as well – what more can we ask for. Thanks for sharing your passion. Your work is beautiful! .

    1. Thank you, Gwen. I’m not so sure that the categories of art, craft and hobby are useful. I’ve struggled with that, too, and now it just doesn’t make any sense to me at all. Why do we need to divide things up that way, and what difference does it make? I like what you said about art in any form releasing the human spirit. What a beautiful way to look at it!

  6. When I was a student at UCLA I had to take a life drawing class. 1st one ever. after one of the sessions the instructor looked at my drawing and said something to the effect “you cant draw” I had been making things all my life and was planning on continuing. That comment did traumatize me until I realized that I was drawing by doing batik, that I was an artist, expressing ideas.

    Much later, when ii was already teaching, I took a beginning drawing class. Mainly I wanted to learn perspective. In that class I discovered that I could draw “realistic” things. We are so traumatized by those kids in school who have that natural ability to draw representational things that the rest of us have to fight for recognition.

    I really admire the path you are taking and the new ideas that you share with all of us. You are an inspiration.

    1. Thank you, Bee. I think you’re right that a lot of us are traumatized in art classes. I wonder if things are any different now. If there even are art classes in the schools anymore!

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