Friday, March 26, 2010

Practice is the Magic of Talent

So often people think of talent as something they don't have, something mysterious and unobtainable, a thing you're either born with or not.  So I'm introducing my new sketching blog, Vickie's Sketchbook, with a closer look at this thing we call talent.      
The bird you see above is a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, sketched a few months ago in 2009.  I first encountered this bird ten years ago, in the year 2000.  I remember it well, not because I was bird watcher who kept a list of sightings, but because I sketched it.  
Not only was the bird new to me, but sketching birds was new to me, too.  For whatever reason my desire to sketch, paint, draw and write was resurfacing, getting stronger.  And this was one of those fun moments that brought my two loves together--nature and art.  I had yet to take my first watercolor class and bird sketching was not something I practiced.  And so you see my first crude attempt to capture this bird, sketching it from a field guide in a plain paper journal with a child's watercolor set.  
That doesn't mean you have to practice for ten years to achieve this kind of difference.  The sketch you see above was created in 2008, also before I committed myself to frequent practice.  It was not until January of 2009 that I began to realize, not only could I photograph these small birds, but I really could capture them with art.  This was a confidence-boosting insight called believing.  Then I really began to have fun.

Connecting with your desire to paint or sketch is only the beginning.  Practice is what makes talent.  And practice is a two-fold process--training your eyes to see and getting to know your medium.  Practice over time allows you to relax and use your intuition.  The piece you create then becomes both part of the world you see and part of you.  
Sound magical?  It is.  There isn't any mystery to it, though.  It happens naturally.  And all you have to do is show up with sketchbook in hand.  The initial result may not be exactly what you wanted or fall short of your hopes, but every effort counts.  No time is wasted.  Your mind is constantly learning and integrating, filing away every experience into your How-to-Sketch library.  Then one day, when you least expect it, it will come spilling out onto the page and surprise you!

My new blog, Vickie's Sketchbook, is a companion blog to Vickie Henderson Art, where I blog about what I see through my camera's lens and the inspiration for my art.    To see the images that inspired the above sketch pages, click here.

Ocean Trail at Rancho Palos Verdes Preserve, California--2015

Ocean Trail at Rancho Palos Verdes Preserve, California--2015

Joshua Tree National Forest, California, with son Chad and daughter Thuan--2015

Joshua Tree National Forest, California, with son Chad and daughter Thuan--2015
Photo credit: Thuan Tram

Bird banding with Mark Armstrong at Seven Islands State Birding Park - 2014

Bird banding with Mark Armstrong at Seven Islands State Birding Park - 2014
Photo courtesy of Jody Stone

Birds Close-up

Birds Close-up
Photo courtesy of Karen Wilkenson

Enjoying Gray Jays in Churchill, Manitoba

Enjoying Gray Jays in Churchill, Manitoba
Photo courtesy of Blue Sky Expeditions

A dog sled experience with Blue Sky Expeditions, Churchill, MB--2014

A dog sled experience with Blue Sky Expeditions, Churchill, MB--2014
Photo courtesy of Blue Sky Expeditions

Churchill, Manitoba--2014

Churchill, Manitoba--2014
Photo courtesy of Blue Sky

2014 Hummingbird Festival

2014 Hummingbird Festival
Photo courtesy of Jody Stone

Smithsonian National Zoo with one of my Whooping Crane art banners and son, John--2014

Smithsonian National Zoo with one of my Whooping Crane art banners and son, John--2014

Muir Woods on the Dipsea Trail at Stinson Beach, California--2014

Muir Woods on the Dipsea Trail at Stinson Beach, California--2014
Photo courtesy of Wendy Pitts Reeves

Checking out the gulls at Stinson Beach--2014

Checking out the gulls at Stinson Beach--2014
Photo courtesy of Wendy Pitts Reeves

Discovery Hike in Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska--2012

Discovery Hike in Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska--2012
Photo courtesy of Ruth Carter
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