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It takes Determination, not Talent, to Make Great Art

By Dan in Misc > Art Opinion

I’ve always been amazed by Michelangelo.

Sistine-Chapel-Michelangelo

I can’t imagine what would be like to paint the entire ceiling of the Sistine Chapel – the enormity of it just blows my mind. What was his secret? How did he accomplish such a Herculean task?

Certainly he had great talent, but it wasn’t talent that led him up that scaffold each day and kept him painting for four years. No, the “secret” is simple: Michelangelo was determined. He DROVE himself to succeed, and in my opinion is the best example of what it takes to be a great artist.

We all have that same ability to decide the course of our lives and art. Unfortunately it’s much easier to just let whatever happens, happen, than to determine to make something specific occur.

But think of the possibilities open to you when you take charge! When I look back on my life I can see firsthand how my decisions to DO rather than “let things happen” have changed my entire artistic career.

The turning point was my senior year in college, when I first understood what I was truly capable of.

With about two months to go before my required senior show, I decided to create a series of ten realistic oil paintings ranging in size from 18×22 inches to 27×34 inches. Since my emphasis was technically graphic design, I could have held a retrospective of my design work instead, but that didn’t interest me nearly as much as painting did.

At the time, I still had classes to attend, final design projects to finish, and exams to prepare for; so perhaps it wasn’t the most logical choice – but I WAS determined.

I painted between classes, in the evenings, and occasionally through the night. As my show grew closer I started skipped classes and would often paint up to 12 hours at a time. I will never forget all the times I walked back to my room just as the sun began to rise in the dark morning sky; it was beautiful but I was much too exhausted to appreciate it.

I was still exhausted when the time came for me to exhibit my work, but the paintings were finished. And regardless of what anyone else might have thought, I know it wasn’t talent or skill that made my show happen. It was sheer determination.

You may not be a brilliant painter like Rembrandt or a genius like Leonardo, but one thing we ALL have is the ability to determine our own actions in life.

So if you struggle with drawing faces – draw faces every day! Or maybe there’s something else you‘ve always wished you could draw or paint. . . why keep wishing?

Instead, determine to change whatever is necessary to make your art improve.

*Note: this post may contain affiliate links*

Paintings are all about color. It should be obvious, because that’s the most significant thing that distinguishes paintings from drawings – and yet many new artists struggle with color and end up with gray, neutral paintings. I was that way myself, early on. During my first semester of painting, the professor constantly hounded me for "more color." Not that I was the only one. . . Many. . . read more

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