Are Artists Born—Or Made—To Mix Media?

28 Mar 2012

"It may seem controversial, but I really think artists are born, not made," says Meagan Shein. Definitely bold words, especially coming from someone who has advanced degrees in fine art and art history. "It doesn't mean that the innate skill is there," the artist quickly adds, "but the compulsion to create art and continue to hone your craft is innate. You did it because you have to in order to feel fulfilled. After all, an art career isn't the easiest road to go down."

Shein may have a point there. I mean, if you could find happiness and total fulfillment work in a steady, well-defined career wouldn't you invest in that instead of the fickle and fearful world of fine art?

Gas Station II by Meagan Shein, mixed media artwork on paper with beeswax, encaustic, and ink, 25.75 x 38, 2006.

Gas Station II by Meagan Shein, mixed media artwork
on paper with beeswax, encaustic, and ink, 25.75 x 38, 2006. 

For Shein, the desire to grow and challenge herself in mixed media art hasn't waned in more than 20 years. After years of working in oil, acrylic, and pastel, she has switched her focus to drawings that are minimalist in content and rich with meaning. Combining pen and ink on paper painted with beeswax and encaustic, her approach is largely experimental, with the materials playing as important a role as her formal concepts. "Really, I set up a frustration for myself," she says with a laugh. "I work through the tension of wanting to draw a beautiful line, and it's very satisfying and powerful when the flowing line appears because it's like I've earned it."

Earning a beautiful line--one of the many goals of a born artist. Do you think it was nature or nurture that fueled and sustained your interest in art? Do you mix media in ways that yielded unexpected results? Let me know by leaving a comment.

If you'd like to learn more about working with mixed media, check out Modern Mixed Media With Marshall Arisman. The two-hour DVD is jam-packed with tips and techniques to help you discover the hidden talents you may have been born with, but haven't yet unlocked.

--Naomi

Naomi Ekperigin is an associate editor of American Artist magazine.

 

 


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Comments

KatPaints wrote
on 29 Mar 2012 6:42 PM

"I mean, if you could find happiness and total fulfillment work in a steady, well-defined career wouldn't you invest in that instead of the fickle and fearful world of fine art? "

I guess that's why so many people do not pursue art until they are retired. They'd rather wait until they have the financial means to enjoy art.

I've seen media that shows cats painting, elephants and monkeys painting...The reality is that animals don't know what they are doing. Humans can make decisions regarding their art --and what and how we create. In that sense it is innate.

Some people have superior reasoning and math skills that many will never possess or be able to understand. The same is true for artistic skill. Some people have a higher range of abilities and skill that some will never possess. Few of us could ever achieve the level of Sargent or Bouguereau and still be involved in the arts.  The arts are more tolerant of lower skill levels because it falls under the category of self-expression, recreation or therapy. A mathematician that cannot figure out simple percentages would not be highly regarded for his brilliant self-expression with numbers. So to sum it up, some of it's innate while society also has a wide range of acceptable skills depending on the particular form of art and area of pursuit.

on 31 Mar 2012 8:38 AM

i think thier are born talented artist and learned artist.and some with a little of both.we may be born artist but still learn .thats what i like about art.i never quit learning.i can,t remember not drawing or painting.as a child i couldn,t wait for mom to bring the groceries home so i could have the paper bags to draw on.

Afton Kern wrote
on 3 Apr 2012 5:54 PM

I definitely think artists are born. Seems like nowadays, one has to be careful what they say about the words 'talent' and 'ability'. At least, from my experience.

Many times I have been told "what do you know, anyone can learn to draw well! There is no such thing as talent." As the person mentions in the first comment, some have a higher skill than others. This can be with math or science, which I believe to be as important as art. All are subjects of knowledge and understanding, and require ability and passion.

MrHuges wrote
on 30 Jun 2014 1:36 PM

This is an obsolete argument. It is blindingly obvious that artists are born not made and it has been the case since critical thinking was first introduced by the Greeks. You cannot "hothouse" a poet or a painter just as you cannot "grow" a Ferrari. I'm sure your DVD is packed with great stuff but please... we are not morons. Offer us some substance.