For some reason, many people have a sort of mystical belief that, in the field of visual arts, either they have talent or they might as well pack it up. Yet these same people will admit that they wouldn’t expect to sit down at a piano or pick up a guitar and immediately know how to play it. The musician, the singer, the professional in any field, knows that it requires development of one’s skills to gain competence.

Competence is, to my mind, more important than " talent." You have the ability to develop your skill. And you develop that skill by looking for yourself, learning what you need to know (the basics of art) and practicing routinely.

The word skill is interesting, because its original use denoted not a physical accomplishment but the mental capacity to make distinctions. It was borrowed from the old Norse word, skil, meaning distinction, discernment, knowledge. And indeed, when you have an understanding of the tools, materials and components of visual art, you can use or break the “rules” to create the effects you want.

As artist and teacher, I promote looking for yourself, learning (always approach art newly -- as if you didn't already "know it all"), and practicing (constantly). Someone once asked me why I was taking a class, since I've been teaching art for over 13 years. Well, (1) you can always improve and (2) it's fun!