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Rolig Loon wrote:

Still, universities are full of marginally talented art majors with high hopes, getting excellent instruction and plenty of practice but not destined to make more than a tiny splash in the art world.  Practice is a
sine qua non
, but it takes talent to be Picasso.

 

I'd replace TALENT, with PASSION. IMHO, no1 is born any specific way. Our differences at birth, are hardly great enough to exclude most people from any field of interest. Even at age 5, it would be hard to tell which kid is suited for what. It really breaks down to 3 things. Interest, encouragement, and passion are the keys to being good at anything. If you don't have these, it's almost impossible to get thru all the tasks to be really good at something. People say some1 is talented, but the reality is, they probably worked their butt off, and there is years of work behind them.

Plus, I've seen every Picasso documentary, and seen hours of footage of the man. He was all passion. lol

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Medhue Simoni wrote:

I'd replace TALENT, with PASSION. IMHO, no1 is born any specific way. Our differences at birth, are hardly great enough to exclude most people from any field of interest.

It's not a matter of opinion. Research on identical twins separated at birth indicates up to half of what we are and do and like is genetic. They share the same interests, like the same food etc. Still, that's not even half, so I'd say the second part of that sentence is true.

Passion and practice might make perfect (or better anyway), it's not the same as talent. I've seen people picking up a guitar and play like they were born playing. Whether talented people maintain their advantage over others who practice every day is another matter. Talent doesn't equal result, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

Both talent and passion go a long way. It takes both to excel at something though.

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I understand your point, Chosen. It's one I heard for a long time as an educator, and it has great value as a motivator: "You can be anything you set your mind to."  It's even true, up to a point.  Unfortunately, it can set some people up for a lifetime of crushing disillusionment. 

I was a chemist in an earlier life, teaching thermodynamics among other things.  I have had a handful of brilliant students who have no trouble grasping some very arcane concepts intuitively.  They feel the mathematics at a gut level rather than seeing equations that other people handle mechanically.  With practice and exposure to fresh challenges, they go on to be creative chemists.  At the other end of the scale, I have watched countless numbers of motivated but hopelessly untalented chemistry majors struggle to understand the basics of free energy and chemical potential.  For them, it's not a matter of how many hours they study, or how devoutly they want to learn.  They simply don't have the spark.

I spent the last third of my academic life as a senior administrator, seeing the same story play out for students across the disciplines.  It's not enough to want to be a CPA or a concert violinist.  It's not enough to spend every waking hour pouring yourself into practice.  Some people just don't have the talent to work with.  Taken to an absurd extreme, we will never see many chimpanzees becoming rocket scientists.  By telling students from the time that they are old enough to walk that they can become "anything", just by wishing and working hard enough at it, we do them a disservice.  We would do better to consel them from the beginning to recognize their strengths and build on them.  If nothing else, they could save years of paying college tuition and racking up debts that they can't pay off.

This certainly is not to deny that marginally talented people can become much better by practice.  I am a fairly good guitar player and a middling artist myself, and I credit my success to years of hard work.  We become more confident, more well-balanced people by nurturing our dreams.  Society, too, needs plenty of people who will not be the next Picasso but will turn out commercially successful refrigerator art.  Without practice, there is no hope for those who find ourselves in the motivated middle rank of talent.  Still, it is a cruel waste of human potential to tell any child that with practice she can grow up to be a Broadway performer or a even sing in the church choir, even though she has no hope of hearing the difference between a B flat and an F sharp.  Tone deaf is tone deaf.  Mathematical insight is there or it's not.  The ability to throw a hanging curve ball is there or it's not.  You can practice from now until the cows come home, but if you don't have some talent to work with, you are wasting your time.  And your teacher's.  And society's.  

One of my first graduate students, decades ago, worked very hard to become a decent chemist, only to find that companies already had enough "decent chemists" and wanted to hire only the really sharp ones.  I suppose I should have told him that he didn't have the talent to make it in the field, but I was being kind and young myself.  He went into the tropical fish business and was doing quite well the last time I heard. 

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There is a reason some people are called gifted, that their ability is called a gift.

Some have something special that they are simply given; they can work to improve and perfect it, but the gift itself is not something they earned, any more than any other gift. 

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Chosen Few wrote:


Pamela Galli wrote:

Dayum.

I have always thought 3D software was insanely difficult to learn and create with, and wondered when someone would figure out an easier way.

Careful what you define as "easier".  Keep in mind that this particular tech is only really meant for manipulating photos.  It's highly unlikely that the resulting models would be in any way game-ready.  It still takes a human artist to optimize a model properly, so that it will work well in a game or virtual world.  There are all kinds of factors to consider, besides just the outward appearance.

As Medhue well put it, these things are tools.  They're not meant to supplant the 3D modeling process, but to enhance it.  To someone who already understands how 3D modeling works, there's a lot that could be done with models generated in this new way.  But to someone who thinks this will be a way out of having to first develop that understanding, it's only going to cause a whole new set of problems.

Here's a comparison that may help.  When the airbrush was invented, a lot of non-painters looked at the results artists were getting with this new tool, and assumed the tool was the reason the paintings looked so good.  Some of those people went out and bought airbrushes, assuming it was "easier" than traditional painting.  You know what those people discovered?  There's nothing actually "easy" about it.  If you don't know how to paint, you don't know how to paint.  The presence or absence of an airbrush won't change that.

By the same token, if you don't know how to 3D model, you don't know how to 3D model.  No matter what tools come out to make the job "easier", you'll never be able to do much with them if you don't first develop the skills that every single 3D artist needs to have.

 

 

I'm sorry to hear that you find all 3D modeling software to be so difficult to use. I know from your posts that you've forced yourself to come a long way with it.  Not everyone would have been as tenacious as you've been, so I'm glad you did stick with it.

The best advice I can offer to anyone getting started who also finds it difficult is that it's like learning a musical instrument.  It takes time and practice.to master.  If it were a guitar or a violin, you'd have all the same mental anguish, plus your fingers would bleed, the first few times.  Since it's just a computer program, you won't bleed, but it will still be a steep learning curve.

By its very nature, every art form is mysterious and painful for anyone who is brand new to it.  In the beginning, the only way to get started is by brute force, just making yourself do it, even though it's hard. 

The key is to focus on the journey, not the destination.  As I so often say, if your goal is "I want to know how to make ______," it's going to be very, very frustrating, no matter what the blank happens to be.  But if your goal is simply "I want to learn the basics of this software, step by step," then it becomes a pleasure.  That blank will fill itself in, automatically, after you've mastered the basics.

Most people who follow that step-by-step approach from A to B to C, and so forth, get competent within a few weeks, and really good in about 18 months.  Those who try to rush it by skipping around invariably remain frustrated forever.

Interestingly, that same time schedule applies to most musical instruments, so the analogy holds up pretty well.  If you get started learning the guitar today, you'll be strong enough to strum a few chords within a few weeks.  Practice faithfully every day, and you'll be good enough to play in a band in about 18 months.  You won't be able to compete yet with people who have been playing for 20 years, of course, but you'll certainly be able to hold your own.

 

I do realize "practice, practice, practice" probably isn't what anyone who's frustrated wants to hear.  But it's the only truth I've got.
:)

 

Thanks Chosen.

No, I have not followed a very linear path in learning Blender -- certainly I would not say I was "really good" after 18 mos.  In fact it is only now after two years that I have enough fluency that I can create without so much time spent trying to figure out what I or the uploader ( or sometimes Blender) has done wrong. I still spend time doing that but at least it is not a majority.

 

In any case, these things look like they have the potential to revolutionize the way 3D content is produced. 

 

 

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Rolig, you're right that the statement, "You can be anything you want to be, if you just set your mind to it," can be a dangerous one.  It's not necessarily wrong, but it is woefully incomplete.  It only focuses on one small part of a much larger picture.

It might be more accurate to say, "By setting your mind to it, putting in the requisite planning to identify the steps you need to take, and then following through with the appropriate effort on each and every step, you can prepare all relevant factors that are under your control, so that you have the best possible shot at whatever it is you want to achieve.  But there will always also be a margin of error, due to factors that are beyond your control, and you need to prepare yourself to adjust for that, too."  But of course, that much of a mouthful of truth isn't exactly the stuff of slogans, nor would it be any more immune to misinterpretation than the original.

What it really comes down to is teaching proper goal-setting skills, which sadly is a topic that most educators don't have the first clue about.   People who consistently achieve great success know how to break down a goal into long-term, mid-term, and short-term activities, that keep them moving toward the finish line they want to cross.  Some people have really good instincts for this, and don't even realize they're doing it.  But for most, it's an active technique that must be taught and learned.

It's been a while since I was teaching this stuff every day, so I'm afraid I don't have the exact citation in front of me, but I believe it was Harvard University, who first published a really interesting study on this.  They tracked the various successes of a cross-section of their alumni, over several decades.  What they found was that among those who ended up accomplishing what they'd wanted to in in their professional and personal lives, nearly all of them, whether they realized it or not, had followed one basic pattern in the way they had set goals for themselves.  Among the ones who had not accomplished all or any of what they'd wanted, some had followed that same pattern in part, but none had followed it in full.

What I believe we can conclude from that is that we can indeed be anything we want to be (within reason), but it takes more than just setting our minds to it.  We need to know the formula for properly setting and achieving goals, and we need to follow it.

Of course, we do need to be realistic in what goals we set.  This is especially true when it comes to competitive goals.  If all 30 violinists in an orchestra want to be the first violinist, 29 of them will always be disappointed.  And if someone with no arms wants to win an arm-wrestling contest, it's probably not going to work out too well.

But that doesn't mean we shouldn't aim high.  The law of averages dictates that we all will accomplish less than what we set out to in some areas of life, while in other areas, we'll accomplish more than we dreamed.  We can't know in advance which will be which, so we have to try our best at all of it.  If by shooting for the stars, we land on the moon, that's not necessarily a bad thing.  The danger comes when we only shoot for the moon, and then we've got nothing left of ourselves if we don't hit it.

 

So, what's the pattern?  It's gone by many names, and has been repackaged and presented in marginally different ways by different entities over the years.  The most well known of these may be Zig Zigglar's "Seven Steps of Goal Setting". (Self-help gurus tend to love packaging things in sevens.)  Zig presents it well, but whatever the outward packaging, the substance of the pattern remains a universal truth.  There is a basic formula to achievement.  When it's followed completely, whether concretely or abstractly, and whether consciously or subconsciously, people do indeed "be anything they want to be" (acts of god, alien invasions, and attacks by Gozer, notwithstanding).  When it's not, they don't (divine intervention, and dumb luck, notwithstanding).

If more teachers were cognizant of this, we'd have far less of those perpetually disappointed students you're so rightly concerned about.

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Well said, Chosen.  It's a complex topic, made all the more complicated by the fact that we all give and get mixed signals about our own abilities and our progress toward goals.  I worry about wasted potential and at the same time fret about people who set unrealistic goals for themselves.  For every hidden artist who could blossom into greatness there is a terrific hidden engineer who is wasting her time trying to be a painter, despite a hopeless lack of talent. 

Exploring potential is an important part of formal education.  However, I worry often that as educators we leave too much of the exploration to trial and error, not helping students make realistic decisions.  When people complain that students take more than 4 years to finish college, we explain that they commonly lose time by changing majors, heading down blind alleys.  That is often true, but we don't often spend enough time providing career guidance to help students set realistic goals.  Being successful in this world begins with self assessment, but we can do more to nurture self assessment than we usually do.

Anyway.... My point in this discussion is not to deny the importance of practice but to say that it's only part of the equation.  Talent, motivation, and a good dose of practicality belong there too. Your last post has made that point well.  Thanks.

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I think it's a mix of aptitude, attitude and fortitude. The IQ bell curve puts 95% of us between 70 and 130, with the top of the curve at 100. A plot of household income for the US puts 95% of the population between about $5K and $200K/yr, with the top of the curve at $15-20K. A chart of happiness vs. income shows little correlation. So IQ ain't driving the whole show.

I've met smart people who won't get off their butts, poorly educated people who work them off, people who hate what they do, and it shows, people who love what they do, and it shows. I don't tell people my IQ because I'm afraid they'll ask me why I wasted it. I don't know if I have an aptitude for engineering because I was raised by an engineer or because I was raised from an engineer. Or was it that I was raised by two parents who loved to play, and that it's through play that we learn adaptibility? In our family, if someone asks you to try something new, you say "okay!".

I value attitude and fortitude over aptitude, as the latter seems more consistent, just as in the IQ curve. But intelligence isn't a homogenous thing and as both you and Chosen have noted, it's important to have some sense of your capabilities, but not too much. Similarly, it's important to know what you love, but not too much.

And finally, which is worse, to be mediocre at something you love, or the best there is at something you hate?

 

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Madelaine McMasters wrote:

[ .... ]

And finally, which is worse, to be mediocre at something you love, or the best there is at something you hate?

That's an excellent point.  The saddest comment I think I ever heard from the parent of a freshman was from a Dad who told me candidly, "I woke up on my 45th birthday and asked myself, 'Why did I ever decide to become an accountant?'  I don't want my son to be 45 before he asks himself the same question."

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Rolig Loon wrote:


Madelaine McMasters wrote:

[ .... ]

And finally, which is worse, to be mediocre at something you love, or the best there is at something you hate?

That's an excellent point.  The saddest comment I think I ever heard from the parent of a freshman was from a Dad who told me candidly, "I woke up on my 45th birthday and asked myself, '
Why did I ever decide to become an accountant?'
  I don't want my son to be 45 before he asks himself the same question."

Yep, it is happiness we're all pursuing after all!

Getting back to your educational experience, which sounds familiar to me. My 2nd mom (the neighbor, lived next to us for 62 years) was a Kindergarten teacher. She could tell which kids were "going places" by that age. But she stops short of saying those kids were smarter. She says they were "brighter". I could spend pages describing the difference, and I'd probably be wrong.

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