What’s with all the talent?

I talked to a lady today at my show and she said to me: “ You are so talented, I would love to be able to do what you do”. As nice as it sounds, harmless as it is, I had very mixed feelings when I hear such compliment. To say the least.

When I was around 12 in the extracurricular art classes, my teacher preached that good art is a 1% of talent and 99% of hard work. That’s my earliest memory of this idea, which later I’ve heard rephrased many times. He was right. I made art from as early as possible, and it came natural, but was my art good immediately? Sure, it wasn’t. Actually, it never occurred to me to try and judge the quality or the progress I was making, but something pushed me, wanting to do more. There were numerous situations to find an excuse and stop and just give up. I can share with you one of my soul-crushing experiences. It was when my boyfriend laughed out loud to my face when I drew his portrait and proudly presented to him. You can only imagine, how humiliated I felt at this very moment. I just needed to practice some more.

What kept me going? Simply the fact I loved the process. I would sit on the floor surrounded by my pencils and paints. With The Cure playing on my CD player I delved in this universe full of curvy lines, spilt paint and tons and tons of paper. I could spend hours like this, not speaking to anyone, not feeling hungry, not thinking about anything else. Often I would realise hours later that the CD was on repeat and I heard it 5 times already. Some people have books, some have films. I had my art. BEING in this world kept me going because there was no right or wrong (until it came to school exams and grades). I was free to express anything.

It's not been an easy ride, though. The years of after-school classes, all the nights after my regular day job, and busy weekends I've spent perfecting my art. Reimagining. Add the constant fear of rejection and persevering for the totally unpredictable dreamy future... It's really not just talent what mattered in my journey.

My process hasn’t changed much. I still try to separate it from all other duties and things that distract me. Things like doubt. But today, going back to my teacher’s words, I would like to add something: Good art is a 1% of talent and the rest is formed by hard work and clarity. In any process, you need to reflect routinely to learn from what you've done and develop accordingly.

Gosia Poraj painting “My Path”

Gosia Poraj painting “My Path”