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Learning a skill or having a talent?

I have just discovered Marvin Barter, ED.D.  He has a great ideas on  Motivating Non-Drawing Students.  Here is part of his article titled “De-mythologizing talent and encouraging passion” from his website. You will notice his teaching experience is focused on young children.
“It is important to periodically explain that drawing is not “talent”.  Teachers use the words “ability” and “skill”, not “talent”, when describing accomplishment.  Too many people still feel that “talent” is a genetically inherited “gift”. There may be some inherited precursor abilities involved, but most of what we think of as drawing ability is most likely the result of copious amounts of self-initiated practice during childhood and later.  Given a passion for practice, there are very few who lack the basic genetic brainpower to learn observation drawing.  Drawing is a kind of physical genius similar to good athletics, good surgery, or good cello playing.  Physical genius comes from lots of practice and critical review of the results of practice.  Of course early practice by the very young can give a head start that often appears to be talent.  Of course children in families of artists tend to practice more because they are imitating the actions of their parents and their parents tend to give them materials and encourage them. However, they build skills, not by imitating the look of their parents artwork as much as by imitating their parents actions and work habits. “ website

I appreciate Barter’s observations and ideas on this topic.  I am fascinated with the subject of how talent and skill fit into learning how to draw.   In my teaching experience, I find that a student’s success with increasing their drawing skills comes from time spent practicing.  Even a talented individual, someone who finds that drawing comes easily, still improve their drawings with practice.  It seems that time doing repetitive drawing activities will elevate the level of a students’ skill.


  1. Sheila Stroud says:

    I found it very interesting that drawing can be learned. All these years I always thought people having special talents in certain areas but it can be learned. I’m hoping to learn as much as I can about drawing in this class.
    Sheila Stroud

    • drawinghand says:

      Hello Sheila- Glad to know that this article helped you to understand that drawing is a skill which can be learned. It has been fun for me to see students learn hand drawing and make progress in this skill.
      Prof. Stephanie

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