Discovering talent doesn’t necessarily work out quite as you hoped or planned. As an example, I knew from an early age I wanted to be a writer. I could write as soon as I knew the alphabet. I assumed I’d be a novelist, maybe a great one. Visions of bestsellers danced in my head. Before I hit puberty, I had an entire lifestyle planned. I was going to be a famous novelist and never marry. I would have a beautiful modern house on a cliff, maybe in Maine.

Happy Lady Bluebird
Angry House Finch

I became a very good writer, but not a novelist. I never lived alone, either.

Art has followed a similar pattern. I wanted to do dramatic or at least elegant drawings and portraits, but what I do best are birds, flowers, and my own dogs. I doubt I’ll ever be able to do a real portrait, at least not of a human being. My most powerful drawings are simple. Go figure, right?

There is a moral to this story.

You can’t plan talent. If you discover you have talent — any kind — you can work with it to see how it develops. The best intentions and strongest determination won’t force your abilities into a mold for which they aren’t suited.

Talent is like a foot. You can only wear the shoes if they are the right size. Anything else hurts.

Categories: #Birds, #Flowers, #Sketchbook, Anecdote, Arts, bluebirds, Drawings, House Finch, orchids

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16 replies

  1. Birds, dogs and flowers are great subjects. I love that angry finch. The main thing is that it is fun.


    • The angry finch was just a fun drawing. ALL birds look angry when they look directly at you and I suppose that’s where “angry birds” originated. Most drawings and photographs make birds look sweet, but really, they DO look angry. It’s something about the position of their eyes. So I wanted at least one to have that “look.” Even though the eyes are a bit too human for any bird ๐Ÿ™‚

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  2. Most things about life don’t work out as expected. I guess you could say that’s part of the fun, discovering the paths fate takes you along rather than the route you planned. Still, you and the quote are completely right, and irrespective of our ambitions, we have to work with what we’ve got, and you are lucky to be talented in many ways. You’re a great writer, photographer and now an artist. And the simple things in life are often the best. Your pictures are works to be proud of, Marilyn, and you’ve captured not only the beautiful colours of your birds but their characters too. Well done! ๐Ÿ™‚


    • Thank you! I got a sort of “arty bundle” of gifts, but writing was the driving force. I suspect that people who get ONE single talent tend to have more ambition than people like me. I always wanted to do other things, but rarely did the work allow me the time — except for book illustrating and design. I found that part like the dessert part of the meal.

      I feel bad for kids whose parents are forever pushing them to keep trying, even when it’s clear the child doesn’t have whatever it is he/she needs. There are too many super pushy parents trying to force their kids into some pre-designated shape. Kids should be allowed to be CHILDREN, not mini adults. But at least I was pretty good with m own. Pretty good for a full time working mother ๐Ÿ™‚

      Trying to get the character of what one is drawing in the part of art that will never come from a classroom. I’m just starting to get a bit of a grip on it. It’s rather ephemeral.

      Happy beginning of spring!

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      • Happy beginning of spring to you too, Marilyn. It’s such a lovely time of year. ๐Ÿ™‚

        Time is always the thief of our desires. I’m glad you’re honing your art skills now, though, and you’re obviously doing very well indeed. I know what you mean when you say getting the character of your subject is not something that can be taught. You just have to have a feel for it, and you clearly do.

        I also know exactly what you mean about pushy parents, and I’ve never understood it myself. Our kids aren’t us, and youngsters shouldn’t be pressured into living out their parents’ dreams. If anything, I’ve been guilty of not being pushy enough, but my kids are happy and my daughter has always told me how much she appreciates me and all the things I’ve done for her, so I must have got something right! ๐Ÿ™‚


  3. Youโ€™re a talented artist Marilyn. I love your drawings.


    • Thank you again (and again). I suspect I’m JUST beginning to be able to draw what I want rather than whatever falls out of the pencil. My mother painted and loved it. She never stopped developing. Maybe art is like that for everyone. Whatever you are doing now, you’ll be trying something different soon enough ๐Ÿ™‚

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  4. all valid points marilyn! You summed this up nicely! You have your own unique talent, for making art, for taking good photos, etc. Xoxo


  5. Personally? I love your art pieces. And it takes all the flavors of “artist” to make the colorful patchwork that is art. I can draw a fair portrait, have studied how to do that because faces fascinate me and my fingers itch to put the face down on paper or whatever is to hand; but I could NOT begin to get the fine detail and line of your pieces. My flowers look vaguely like flowers, and my birds are mostly two curved lines to represent them flying high in the sky. You have a talent and a gift IMO. ๐Ÿ™‚


    • That’s EXACTLY what I mean. Talent isn’t everything at the same time. Almost no one can do it all. Most of us can do parts A and C, but not B and D. I can draw almost anything botanical and most birds. Not every dog, just some of them. Can’t do a portrait at ALL and I wish I could. Kind of like being a tech writer my whole life, but not being able to write a novel — but I do have a LOT of first chapters!


  6. That critical difference between what we want/imagine to be the case and what actually is. Going with what is works better. I love your drawings–so colorful and evocative!


    • Thank you. After all those years of writing for a living, it’s nice to do something different. it’s fun. I used to like to draw before my son was born, but after that, there was work, child rearing and LIFE. Drawing IS fun and different. The learning process is — in its own way — also fun. I didn’t think I could learn new skills and have been happily surprised.

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