Natural Talent: The paradox of mattering

Vincent Van Gogh is one of the best-known artists of all time, specifically for his painting, Starry Night.  Personally, he is my all-time favorite artist, but not solely for his artwork.  It’s his story.  During his lifetime, he believed he was a terrible artist.  He only painted for himself.  He was the only audience he really aimed to please, because he believed no other audience would ever come close to loving his paintings as much as he did.  Oddly enough, Doctor Who sums Van Gogh up pretty well in the museum scene in the episode Vincent and the Doctor.  The curator at the museum explains that Vincent Van Gogh “…transformed the pain of his life into magnificent beauty…  No one had done it before, and perhaps no one ever will again.” (I do not do this clip justice, so the whole scene is linked here.)


All this to say that, I’m sure most everyone would say that Van Gogh was talented, but we will deny our own talent.  “Van Gogh is a brilliant painter, I only doodle.”  “Van Gogh is famous, no one wants to read my poems.”


No one wanted to buy Van Gogh’s paintings either, but now look where his art is.


Your art is yours, and only yours.  No matter what you do with it, no matter if you give it away or sell it or shred it, your art is yours.  You created something.  Maybe it isn’t how you wanted it to turn out, or maybe you look at it and compare it to someone like Van Gogh, someone you look up to, someone with “Natural Talent.”


No matter what kind of art you do, whether its writing, painting, music, or anything else, natural talent is not needed to do what you love.  It isn’t even needed to succeed at doing what you love.  And who knows, it’s possible that if you think you don’t have any talent, you could just be surrounded by people who don’t recognize how much you love what you do.


Your talent level does not matter.  If you love your art, if you love doing art, keep working.  Keep loving it.  Do art for you and no one else.

– For J.


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