Is an Artist Born or Made?

Jeremiah by Michelangelo Buonarroti, Sistine Chapel, 1511.
Jeremiah by Michelangelo Buonarroti,
Sistine Chapel, 1511.

I think the affinity that I have for art is definitely inborn. Art isn’t something I grew up with or was tutored in, so when I stumbled upon it on my own, something clicked. The natural ability to draw and paint is ingrained in some people, too. But not all of us are gifted with an innate artistic sense, and I don’t think talent cancels out the equally important willingness and desire to steep yourself in and truly perfect your craft.

Some artists have egos and some even have enough talent for them to believe their work is heaven-sent—a panacea that can change the world. Me? I’ve never felt more human than when I’m drawing or watercolor painting. That’s when I feel truly humble, as I fumble and grope for ways of capturing the life, atmosphere, movement, and excitement of the world around me in a drawing or painting. But don’t get me wrong—it is an impassioned struggle, a glorious goal worth reaching for.

Whenever I pick up a pencil or brush, I think of Michelangelo. He was gifted beyond belief and is at the zenith of Western art, but his life wasn’t easy—it set the precedent for the kind of mental anguish and doubt that put truth to the term “tortured artist.” He constantly felt that his hands could never attain what he saw in his mind’s eye. No matter how much arrogance and umbrage he displayed in public, he was plagued by the same indecision and doubt that I feel when I’m really committed to a project but am not quite sure if it is going to come together the way I hope.

One of Michelangelo's sketches for figures in the Sistine Chapel.
One of Michelangelo’s sketches for figures in the Sistine Chapel.

That’s why I make it a point of seeking out new inspiration and quality art instruction, especially with watercolor painting–because I still have tons to learn. Without either of these, you can’t hope to fully utilize the talent and skill you have. A Little Watercolor with Karin Huehold is a painting workshop you can access right now through ArtistsNetwork TV. It is a fun-filled two-hour workshop that we spend painting watercolor landscapes on a small-scale. I love it! It gave me license to be free with my gestures but it actually got me somewhere because I wasn’t wasting time being intimidated by a ton of white space. You learn color mixing, brush techniques, and how to experiment with the medium.

A Little Watercolor with Karin Huehold went a long way for me. It is an engaging resource that provokes new ideas and confidence with brushstrokes, color, and paint manipulation, which are all key to making significant breakthroughs in your watercolor work. Enjoy it!

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Courtney Jordan

About Courtney Jordan

  Courtney is the editor of Artist Daily. For her, art is one of life’s essentials and a career mainstay. She’s pursued academic studies of the Old Masters of Spain and Italy as well as museum curatorial experience, writing and reporting on arts and culture as a magazine staffer, and acquiring and editing architecture and cultural history books. She hopes to recommit herself to more studio time, too, working in mixed media.   

5 thoughts on “Is an Artist Born or Made?

  1. I agree with you as too “Is an Artist born or made?

    There are so many emotions that go into creating a peice of artwork. As you say picking up a brush and being able to “Create a Vision” is and can be trying, but in the end when you do captivate the feeling it is such a feeling of accomplishment and joy!

    Rebecca

  2. I agree that the artist is inborn; however without the discipline of good art teachers, it is impossible to perfect or reach any level of skill.

    Good art teachers are not always the great artists. Teaching is a call or specialty that is not common or easy to find. My first art teacher was a master at both; he is no longer available and I need to find a teacher dedicated enough to want you to be as good or better than he or she is. My destination is portraits; a futile journey to date; but I have not given up trying to find one.

  3. I agree that the artist is inborn; however without the discipline of good art teachers, it is impossible to perfect or reach any level of skill.

    Good art teachers are not always the great artists. Teaching is a call or specialty that is not common or easy to find. My first art teacher was a master at both; he is no longer available and I need to find a teacher dedicated enough to want you to be as good or better than he or she is. My destination is portraits; a futile journey to date; but I have not given up trying to find one.

  4. Both! I was born an artist, but I’m far from perfect, and definitely “tortured”, lol. I’ve learned a lot from others, and I’m still learning every day. Anyway, I think the desire to create is as important as natural ability (or more important!).

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