Artist Therapy 5: It’s too late for me to start.

Artist Therapy 5: It’s too late for me to start.

Artist Therapy is a series of posts exploring problems we artists have making, getting ready to make, and sharing our art. It is inspired by Havi Brooks’s Blogging Therapy articles.

Previously on Artist Therapy:
1.) Introductory Ideas
2.) I totally suck at art.
3.) I’ll never be good enough.
4.) I don’t have time for art.

Today’s Artist Therapy:
We have an obsession with “talent” in the U.S.: the expectation that if you don’t show inborn talent at an early age, you’re forever damned to never accomplish anything.

Of course, as I said before, this is totally untrue and very detrimental. It’s extremely discouraging to anyone over the age of 10.

Check out this article about the differences between the perception of intelligence in Japan and the U.S. In Japan, kids in school are encouraged to work hard, and getting it right after working hard is a sign of success. (Any reader of manga will be familiar with the phrases “I’ll do my best” and “Do your best!”)

But in the U.S., having to work hard at something is a sign that the kid isn’t smart enough. Kids who don’t immediately succeed tend to quit in frustration, because they think they’re stupid.

So, kids in Japan grow up with the idea that they can learn anything with enough work, while American kids (and adults) think that if they have to work at learning something, they’re stupid.

You can see how the U.S. attitude encourages people to think that, after a certain age, there’s no point in trying to learn something new.

Well, I’m here to tell you that the U.S. attitude about talent is bullshit. You can learn anything and improve your abilities at any age. Whenever you want! Maybe even right now.

You might have delayed your artistic endeavors later than you’d have liked for many, many reasons.

  • Maybe you had a family to take care of and now you have more free time.
  • Maybe you never had any money to buy art supplies, and now you do.
  • Maybe you never heard of a certain medium, and now you want to explore its possibilities.
  • Maybe you were intimidated by a certain medium (like watercolors, for me), but now you’re ready to try it.
  • Maybe your family didn’t value the arts, but you live on your own now and you’re ready to explore!
  • You have experience and knowledge at your age (whatever age that may be) that will help you out when you start (or re-start) doing art. Buying clothes for your kids might help you choose a pleasing color palette, for example. You never really know what will surface from your life that aids in your art.

    It’s never too late. I know it’s scary to start something new, and you can give yourself a little wiggle room to get ready, but the best way to make art is to go and make it. Any little bit counts.

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