20 November 2015

Talent vs Skill.

I've been spending whatever free time I had in my shop recently. I've been getting ready for the next craft show, plus I'm working hard on filling an order from the last show.

One of the comments I commonly get at the craft shows is "My, you are so talented!" I know it Is meant as a compliment, and I thank them politely for saying so, but it is inaccurate. I do have some talent, but what you see on my table is not the product of talent, but of long and hard earned skill.  Talent is a nice beginning, but a poor ending, I am skilled.

There is an old Chinese story. A man asks the local ink painter for a painting of a crane. The painter agrees to do the work, and tells him the painting will be ready soon.

A week or so later, the man accosts the painter and asks when the painting will be ready. "Not yet," answers the painter. "But soon."

More weeks pass, and the man accosts the painter time and again. "It is almost ready," says the painter. "Soon."

Finally, after months of waiting, the painter tells the man to come and collect his painting. The man comes to the studio and the painter asks him to take a seat. The painter then pulls out his pot of ink and his brushes, pulls out a fresh sheet of paper and spreads it flat upon the table. Then, with sure, confident strokes, the painter executes a perfect drawing of a crane.

The man, aghast, sputtered at the painter. "But you could have done that at any time! Why did you make me wait so long?"

Silently, the painter rose from his seat and went to his cabinet, and opened it for the man. There, in the cabinet, were hundreds and hundreds of flawed crane drawings the painter did as practice.

At my table at the shows, you are seeing the end product. What you are not seeing is the thirty some odd years I spent learning how to make these things.

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