Natural Versus Learned Talents

Natural Versus Learned Talents

I have a singing voice with about a 6 note range…7 if someone steps on my foot really hard. Yet, I love to sing, so I do, and over time I’ve found songs that fit within my limited range. The Beatles’ Paul McCartney and John Lennon use to write 1 song per album that Ringo Starr could sing… he too was vocally challenged. Not surprisingly, I can sing Ringo’s songs, I guess we’ve mastered the same 6 notes! When I can pick the song I’m going to sing, people around me don’t need to know what a bad singer I really am. I choose simple songs then sing with gusto!

After posting my watercoloring pictures yesterday, I received a lot of comments and a bunch of emails from people saying they would love to learn to watercolor but, unlike me, they can’t draw. Well, I’m here to tell you, my drawing abilities are comparable to my singing abilities. I have very limited range, I simply choose to draw things that fit within my limits. For that reason, people think I can draw, but the truth of the matter is drawing is very challenging for me… I do not have natural ability.

Case in point, our family use to play Pictionary all the time. Given my limited skills, I certainly did not excel at speed drawing, and the added stress of “being on the clock” often made my attempts incomprehensible. I would feel like The Little Prince, when sharing the picture he had drawn of a boa constrictor that had swallowed an elephant… frustrated that no one else could make it out! So, on one particular evening that has “gone down in infamy” in our family’s history, my poor sister-in-law tried in vain to figure out one of my hieroglyphics drawings. I was waving my arms wildly, as if that would somehow help her make sense of the mess on the paper, and inadvertently (honestly, it wasn’t on purpose!) stabbed her in the forehead with my pencil! I think the graphite is still embedded in the center of her forehead like a miniature bindi! My drawings truly were bad!

But much like singing, I love to draw, so I persevere. And, the truth of the matter is, I have gotten better over time. As I’ve mastered ameba shaped flowers and fried eggs, I’ve moved on to more complex drawings BUT they are still simple. Fortunately, I love folk and primitive art. It lends itself well to my limited drawing skills. And, I persevere! What you don’t realize when you see my appliques or now my watercolors, is that it is a time consuming process… more like a technical drawing than you can image. I look at nature, photographs and others for inspiration then draw, erase, copy, trace, erase some more, and finally, piece together something that looks good to me. I have no natural skill at drawing… I work, work, work, but, fortunately, I love my job 🙂

When you think about it, there was a time when all genteel ladies were expected to be adept at many artistic skills. They learned to play the piano, draw and paint, do needlework and tapestries, and sing. In a time without television and radio, women were often called upon to entertain their family and friends. Of course, some of the women had natural born skills, but most had to work hard to achieve a level of success. It is doable!

So, I’m here today to debunk the notion that I’ve got natural talent. I DO NOT! I’ve learned to embrace the 6 notes I’ve been given, and find songs I can sing. It would make me very sad to think that by sharing my work, it would somehow make people feel that they do not have the same skills as me and cause them to not even try. I share my work to show others that even with my limited skills, I can trick people into thinking I’ve got talent 🙂 Please, throw caution to wind, and be willing to work to achieve your goals, and learn to embrace and love your talents. After all, in the end, creativity should be an outward expression of the joy you feel inside. If nobody can tell that the boa constrictor you drew just swallowed an elephant, it is their loss. Just keep at it. It will get easier, you will get better, and even if you don’t, if you find pleasure in the process, you’ve been successful!        



  1. Thank you so much for this post. What a beautiful way to remind us all that we can shine in many different ways. #love

    1. I am so glad you enjoyed the post. Typically, I only share my "successes". I have stacks of things I'm not pleased with, but I always enjoy the process. If I'm not doing something creative everyday I feel at odds. ((hugs))

  2. Thank you for sharing this. Sometimes I fall victim to the “comparing your work to others” syndrome, and it is tempting to just give up. I really needed to hear this today. Thanks.

    1. You've made my day 🙂 There is an expression, "Dance like no one is watching you" and I would add "Create like no one else matters". Take joy in expressing yourself. When you lose the desire to please others, you may be very surprised at what you really can do. PLEASE enjoy 😉

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