You Don't Need Talent To Enjoy It

Even a bad day painting is better than any day working.

By Zed A. Shaw

You Don't Need Talent To Enjoy It

I bought some really nice flowers yesterday and made sure they were not blooming yet. It didn't matter because the damn things start blooming about 2 seconds after I put them in water and that means they will be dead by tomorrow. I had to crank out a quick painting of them today, but I also had to work on my books. I setup an easel in the living room and I would use the painting as a reward for getting exercises done.

That's the only photo I saved from the painting. It came out terrible. The only thing that worked about this setup was that it made me want to get exercises done. I'm definitely going to use that hack in the near future. Other than that, this painting was a total absolute turd of paint. I could not get the values right, the color, nothing. Flowers and portraits are my most difficult subjects for sure, which is why I practice them the most. It's the subtlety that gets me and requires my concentration, and I have too much of a heavy hand and a love of sloppy thick paint to pull that off without effort.

I wouldn't say I have any particular talent at painting. I'm definitely not a genius and I put in a lot of work to be even moderately alright at it. I know a ton of tricks and I'm fascinated by the technology used by European painters from the 1500-1800s, but that's not talent. That's just being able to read some books and do what they say. If you sat me down in front of a person, and said I'd get $200 if I can do a decent likeness of the person in 4 hours I'd just laugh at you. Maybe I'd pull it off 1 time out of 10.

I'm also not necessarily a "visual person". I do these weird experiments where I practice painting an object from memory, which you would think makes me a genius with some kind of photographic memory. Nope. I read a book on how to learn to paint from memory and did what it said, then adapted it based on research from other books and articles on memorization. Everyone could learn how to do it if they put in the time and believed they could.

I love to paint. I just love everything about it. The feel of the thick paint going on. The way I can use color to trick the eye into seeing something that's not there. The random times when it clicks and I groove right into a damn good painting without any effort. Painting outside and talking to people. Everything about it is enjoyable and I could give a fuck if I have any talent or not. I'm enjoying myself and I get to give them to friends. Sometimes I sell them. Lots of times I just toss them.

It's all about the moment and the challenge. The feeling of that meditation that paint gives me. My oh my do I love self-portraits for this. Self-portraits and landscape painting quite literally saved my life at a time when everything was sad and dark. Doing paintings of my face helped me reconnect with who I am. Painting outside got me out of bed.

So many people think you need talent to enjoy something, but I'll tell you having zero talent is liberating. You can stop worrying about the end result and just enjoy the process and experience. Just go for it. It really doesn't matter if what you create is any good. All that matters is if you learn something for the next time.

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