98: Natural gifts vs. acquired gifts

THERE IS A POPULAR THEORY that has been around for a while called the 10,000 hour theoryIn his book Outliers author Malcolm Gladwell writes that people who achieve incredible success have one thing in common: they spent at least 10,000 hours learning and perfecting their craft. Dan McLaughlin, a professional photographer from Oregon, decided to put the theory to the test and committed himself to 10,000 hours to master golf and hopes to become a PGA golf champion. McLaughlin, who had never picked up a golf club, calls his endeavor The Dan Plan and is now sponsored by Nike and is shooting a documentary about the experience.

I think it’s possible, especially in the field of sports, to invest 10,000 hours and radically improve your ability. But in the case of art, especially painting, I’m not as convinced. I recently took a year off from painting. When I came back I found my abilities vastly improved, especially my plein air painting. What does such an unexpected development mean to the 10,000 hour theory?

Not painting for a year yet improving means there are other factors besides the brute force of putting in the hours. Acquiring the proper knowledge can vastly accelerate learning. It is one reason I started this blog; to help painters radically diminish the 10,000 hour investment. 10,000 hours is just too much time, especially for people such as myself, who started painting later in life.

I have probably learned more than anyone by writing this blog. And I really appreciate all the thanks I’ve received. It’s one of the reasons I’ve returned to the Thick Paint project (although I am still working on my commercial project).

I recently purchased a software package to write novels and screenplays called Storyist. One amazing features is you can write a book and with a few clicks publish to the Kindle. This feature prompted me to start writing my own book about Thick Paint. Amazon allows authors a 70% royalty if the price of the book is between $2.99 and $9.99. So I am planning to offer the book between those price points. My goal is to provide information for a reasonable price to painters who might not be able to get information elsewhere.

Let me know what you think of this project. I look forward to hearing from you.

UPDATE: I never got that Kindle book written but you can read what I have so far free here.

Brad Teare September 2012

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Updated: 17th January 2022
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