Is artistic talent inherited?

Bartc

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I'm dead certain that it is, from having it in our family and from tracing it in other families, and from reading research on it. Not specifically "art", rather some of the inherent skill sets necessary to create what most of us graphic artists produce (not necessarily the same as performing artists or others.) I'm talking about visual spacial perception and whatever it is in brain function that opens the doors from childhood to creative exploration.

It runs in my family and a bit in my kids' in-law families as well, so I'm expecting it to be inherited by my 4 grandsons, and they do show in varying degrees those capacities. My kids all got it from my side, but express it differently - and not exactly the way I do. My oldest son had it from childhood but his expression is in production of marketing media for a videogame company. My daughter has it, but is intimidated by painting (though she can if she tries) and expresses it in caligraphy and very detailed crafting. My youngest son did learn a bit of painting, but early on went for digital graphics, which he has pursued as a sideline selling his art at conventions. All 3 of my sisters and most of my cousins similarly got it from our parents, but in our generation it was expressed in traditional painting media and photography.

So here I am yesterday with my 4 grandsons at an art show in which I had a couple of pieces. It was an absolute kick to watch the little team going on their own around the gallery doing their version of critique! Their idea, not mine, BTW. Youngest is 6, oldest is 11. They all show the visual ability and a couple have shown some drawing talents so far. How fun for me!
grandsons at art show.jpg
 
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Those are some cute kidletts! ♥️

I'm not sure about it always being inherited. I think sometimes it is and sometimes it is learned. Sometimes, it could be the "hard work" gene that gets one to have the discipline to learn. It could be the "focus" gene, or anything else. It could be the nurture/nature idea. The "focus" and "work hard" thing beaten into you (nurture :LOL: ), or where art was highly encouraged while growing up. I think the ultimate answer is: IT DEPENDS!

Your kids might inherit some natural talent, but might lack the discipline or nurturing to make themselves a great artists. Or, they can inherit no talent at all and can become incredible artists anyway.

I am not saying I am by any means talented. I don't think I am. I think I might be creative (without too much skill), and I know that I got that from no one in my family. Nor did they encourage me to be an artist (quite the opposite). My brother was a musical prodigy, and I was also pretty damn good at music myself. Where that came from is beyond me. My mother did teach ballroom dancing. Maybe that was something? My dad was a complete imbecile, but he did encourage music.
 
Those are some cute kidletts! ♥️

I'm not sure about it always being inherited. I think sometimes it is and sometimes it is learned. Sometimes, it could be the "hard work" gene that gets one to have the discipline to learn. It could be the "focus" gene, or anything else. It could be the nurture/nature idea. The "focus" and "work hard" thing beaten into you (nurture :LOL: ), or where art was highly encouraged while growing up. I think the ultimate answer is: IT DEPENDS!

Your kids might inherit some natural talent, but might lack the discipline or nurturing to make themselves a great artists. Or, they can inherit no talent at all and can become incredible artists anyway.

I am not saying I am by any means talented. I don't think I am. I think I might be creative (without too much skill), and I know that I got that from no one in my family. Nor did they encourage me to be an artist (quite the opposite). My brother was a musical prodigy, and I was also pretty damn good at music myself. Where that came from is beyond me. My mother did teach ballroom dancing. Maybe that was something? My dad was a complete imbecile, but he did encourage music.
Agreed that it is certainly NOT always inherited, and more often than not, it isn't encouraged so they don't learn the skill nor the enjoyment. But I am certain that the neural pathways are inheritable and often passed along.

Yes, you can certainly get there by hard work and most people can learn to express themselves in one medium or another if they try. Sadly, they mostly don't try.

Talent is supposed to be a gift you are born with, but that is not at all the same as skill, which is learned and developed. Talent without skill is just a starting point. I've definitely seen skilled artists who have little talent in my book, LOL, and more of those selling at the high end have only developed the ability to laugh all the way to the bank, but you know that's my pet peeve and your mileage may vary.

I don't push art on my kids nor grandkids, but I certainly provide examples in the family and enourage any interest in that direction.
 
I agree with you that talent and skill are different, but also quite subjective in the eyes of the viewer. What you see as "talent" and "skill" might not be the same as someone else, hence you can think someone is laughing all the way to the bank when perhaps you are missing something about their talent. It's possible. It can be just your opinion. But I/we already know how you feel about that sort of thing. You've made it quite clear here.
 
Good looking kids, Bart, where did they get that from? :)

Regarding your question, I think "talent"might be a combination of a strong desire to accomplish a skill and the physical ability to do it. For us, that might include manual dexterity, eye and hand coordination, visualization, imagination, optimism and a drive to successfully finish the job, and a high IQ.

My father was a pretty good amateur pencil and pen artist and so was his half-brother by the same father. So they may have gotten that from their father, my grandfather. He was a police chief.

As a kid, I followed my father around, wanting to copy and imitate everything he did. So he taught me how to draw a horse or a dog, how to change spark plugs on a car, basic carpentry, etc. So here I am today.

My daughter is an over-achiever with three degrees and I know she's tried her hand at drawing but she never showed me anything she did and so far hasn't pursued it. Her daughter, my grand-daughter, started drawing early and somehow picked up a skill for drawing Japanese-style anime and manga animations and cartoons. I think those are a universal and popular style with her generation. Today she's enrolled in a magnet arts high school. So there's that.
 
Within my field of education... and elsewhere... there have been lots of studies on "talent". One of the most known was that of Howard Gardner who studied the brain and intelligence... initially related to individuals who had suffered a stroke. These studies led to the recognition that different parts of the brain controlled (in a sense) different aspects of intelligence: verbal/linguistic, logical/mathematical, spatial/visual, musical, interpersonal, etc... His studies challenged the usual limited notion of IQ that tended to be based upon a mastery of the verbal/linguistic and logical/mathematical. It also drew into question the concept of "talent".

"Talent" had long been a term applied to those with exceptional skills and abilities in Art, Music, Sports, etc... In some ways, the term was insulting as it suggested that the ability to master Art or Music, etc... was something you were born with or a God-given "gift" and not an aspect of thought or intelligence... let alone effort. It also let others off the hook. They simply weren't born with it.

Gardner's and later studies draw this notion of "talent" into question. Mozart and Louis Armstrong were not exceptionally talented. Rather, they had a greater musical intelligence. Larry Byrd and Larry Byrd were not more talented or even better physically endowed than other players, rather, they far outthought their opponents. They were born with a brain that was hard-wired for a mastery of a certain body of knowledge and skills... a predisposition... but this was still dependent upon effort and self-discipline (and a certain degree of luck).

No one is born with the innate ability to draw the human body or linear perspective. But certain individuals are "hard-wired" if you will with a greater ability to rapidly grasp and master certain skills/concepts/techniques that are employed in the visual arts. I have seen this with students repeatedly... as some rapidly grasp concepts that most others struggle with... often well beyond what you would expect of their age.

All of these elements are meaningless if the individual doesn't put forth the effort. If you are born with a brain wired in a certain way that allows to more rapidly grasp a certain body of knowledge, skills, etc... but you don't put forth the effort... it is doubtful you will ever achieve something a real merit within that discipline. Luck also plays a role in the sense that being born in the right place and time has an impact. It is doubtful that Michelangelo would have risen to the level he did had he been dorn in a small village in Russia or Estonia.

Artistic ability is often seen in certain families (that of the family of J.S. Bach being perhaps the greatest example) because there is usually the support for that certain discipline. More "great" artists came out of Italy in the Renaissance, and more brilliant writers came out of England from the 1500s onward not because the Italians and English were more intelligent or talented... but more likely because there was the necessary support system: there were wealthy patrons and the needed education, there was an influx of individuals and this ideas from around the globe. There is a reason the wealthiest trading nations and the military superpowers have long been the most productive in the arts.

Far beyond the concept of Multiple Intelligences... and individuals being hard-wired to grasp/master certain skills/concepts/techniques within a given realm (Mathematical, Verbal/Linguistic) you have the unpredictable and impossible-to-define "genius". Antonio Salieri, Luigi Boccherini, Henry Purcell, Johann Pachelbel, Georg Telemann, etc... were undisputedly highly intelligent within the realm of skills, knowledge, and concepts applicable to music... and their efforts resulted in some brilliant works of music. Mozart, Schubert, Beethoven were something else altogether... geniuses. We can dismiss Genius as an outdated and patriarchal concept... but it is impossible to deny that some individuals simply function at another level altogether.

Or so it seems... :);)
 
Believe me I do not confuse inborn potential with skill and learning. In those who are successful artists, you often have to include the environment. And in some cases just plain luck. But to me, all the signs point to some folks being born with the potential more than others for certain fields. The ultimate expression is dependent on all those later factors, some external some internal to the individual. The early ability to recognize forms, visual spacial ability to manipulate them, and the planning factor that's called executive processing, all lend themselves toward visual art. Learning to observe and learning fine motor skills come as we develop and mature, but some appear to have more of a predisposition toward those. You can be highly intelligent without being artistic, and artistic without being exceptionally intelligent. You might have all those characteristics while never developing creativity. But having worked with children in professional situations, I usually can recognize those innate abilities early. That's all I am saying.
 
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