Nature vs. Nurture: Is Artistic Talent Innate or Learned?

Is artistic talent something we are born with or learned through external influences?

The age-old debate of nature versus nurture questions whether genes and biology or environment and experience determine particular traits and behaviors. Numerous studies have been conducted to determine which factor is more influential in forming certain characteristics.

A study by Neurolmage suggests artistic abilities could be the result of brain structure. When examining the brain scans of 21 artists and 23 non-artists, researchers found that artists had more neural matter located in the areas of the brain associated with visual imagery and fine motor skills. While interesting, the study doesn’t conclude how much artistic talent is encoded versus learned.

Perhaps the answer isn’t simply nature or nurture, but a combination of both. Park West Gallery represents more than 100 artists from diverse backgrounds, demonstrating the combination of nature and nurture may be the best answer.

 

Art in the Family

Alexandre Renoir has creativity etched into his DNA. As the great-grandson of French Impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alexandre says art has always been part of the Renoir family. However, Alexandre was the only other Renoir to pursue art as a career following his ancestor.

“If your last name is Renoir you have to try and paint something at least once in your lifetime,” Alexandre says. “For me, it’s the only thing that I seemed to be meant to do.”

Autumn de Forest is an art prodigy who began painting at the age of 5. Her family lineage includes multiple American artists as well as a former president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Combined with the support of her parents, Autumn says she knew she would be an artist at age 6.

“I realized that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” Autumn says. “I could express myself and imagine such beautiful paintings on the canvas and play them out.”

French-American artist Duaiv lends credence to the nature and nurture debate. Duaiv’s father was a sculptor and his mother a pianist. Both encouraged Duaiv’s creativity, but it wasn’t until his fateful encounter with Surrealist Salvador Dalí at the age of 23 that he decided to become an artist.

Today, Duaiv is internationally renowned as both an artist and cellist. Duaiv’s daughter, Kalinka, also follows in her father’s artistic footsteps.

“It is hard to find your own way, but [Kalinka] is lucky, she can learn much faster,” Duaiv says. “For me, it took all my life to learn what you learn at school.”

 

Environmental Factors

Tim Yanke distinctly recalls the influence environment had on his artistic development. When he was 5 years old, Yanke showed his father a drawing he made. In turn, the elder Yanke imparted some positive words.

“He said, ‘You know what Tim, you’re very creative, you’ve got a great imagination,’” Yanke recalls. “I thought, ‘Wow, if your dad says you’re creative and you’ve got a great imagination then I must be creative and have a great imagination.’”

Other artists followed their passions in the face of adversity. Viktor Shvaiko grew up as the son of an economist and an engineer. When he wanted to study art at the Novoaltaisk Artistic School, his parents refused to support him, instead wanting him to pursue a military or engineering career.

“I did it by myself,” Shvaiko says. “When I got to the college I was crying, just because I couldn’t…imagine my life without art.”

Growing up in Seoul, Korea, Charles Lee displayed an affinity for art at 7 years old. However, Lee’s father did not approve of his interest, so Lee hid his early work. Lee later studied fine art at university and held his first exhibition at age 23.

“I have had many hardships as an artist, but nothing has been able to stop me. As long as I have life in me, I will paint,” Lee says.

Lee and his wife, a musician, encourage their children to be creative. Their daughter, Jana, is a professional artist in her own right, occasionally working with her father on collaborative paintings.

Do you believe nature or nurture is more responsible for artistic skills, or is it a combination of both? Let us know your thoughts on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

One Response to Nature vs. Nurture: Is Artistic Talent Innate or Learned?

  1. Cristina Tanaskovich says:

    My name is Cristina Tanaskovich a second or third even generation artist that has a father as well as daughter also very talented artists.. To me this is amazing yet very inspirational, nature and nurture combination contributed to this great gift! DNA is first influence and then nurture as well as environment contribution! Eventually the choice to be an artist is all in that person so nurturing what you have or posses is part of who you are! This is so inspirational to me that it made me want to paint this concept, because it is so interesting it all connects is as human beings and how important our nature and nurture is! A balance that swings constantly which contributes who we are today! Thank you!

Leave a comment

Prove you\'re human. *

Latest News

  • The Incredible Process of Bringing Salvador Dalí’s “Divine Comedy” to Life

    In 1950, famed Surrealist Salvador Dalí began work on an ambitious project—he was going to illustrate Dante’s 14th-century epic poem about the afterlife, “The Divine Comedy.”What he didn’t ...
    Read More
  • Do You Know How to Take Care of Your Art? Take Our Quiz...

    We love art, and we’re betting you do too. That is why we want to give you some expert tips on how to keep your art looking as beautiful as ...
    Read More
  • Everyone Wants to Take a Bite Out of Artist Matt Beyrer

    Artist Matt Beyrer has an uncanny knack for drawing depth and beauty out of unexpected places.

    So perhaps it’s not surprising that Beyrer’s artistic career began in an unexpected place—on a surfboard.

    Read More
  • The Strange History Behind Salvador Dalí’s “Divine Comedy”

    Salvador Dalí was an unusual choice to illustrate Dante Alighieri’s “The Divine Comedy.”Dante’s epic poem is considered one of Italy’s national treasures, a work embraced by both Italian cultural ...
    Read More
  • Collect Original Graphic Works by Salvador Dali in Our New Fall Sale

    Salvador Dalí is one of the most famous artists of the 20th century. Now you have the opportunity to collect works from the internationally renowned Surrealist in our ...
    Read More
  • Meet the Artist: 10 Questions with Patrick Guyton

    Patrick Guyton has combined his passion for ancient art techniques with a tenacious work ethic to create a truly unique body of work.Guyton’s art is a sight to behold. ...
    Read More
  • Park West CEO Provides Insight into ‘Self-Destructing’ Banksy Art

    Famous street artist Banksy has made art history by having one of his paintings elaborately destroy itself immediately after being sold for $1.4 million.The unprecedented stunt took place at Sotheby’s ...
    Read More
  • Park West Auctioneer Spotlight: Alex White

    It takes a special kind of person to head off onto the high seas to spread their love of art to travelers around the world.Alex White is one of those ...
    Read More
  • The History of Picasso Ceramics: How Picasso Changed Pottery Forever

    Between 1946 and 1973, Pablo Picasso created a breathtaking collection of original ceramic works.Over the past 50 years, Park West Museum has developed one of the largest collections ...
    Read More
  • Understanding the Delicate Process Behind the Art of Patrick Guyton

    The artistic process Patrick Guyton uses to create his art is exacting, volatile, and precarious. This may sound hyperbolic, but for Guyton, something as simple as using the wrong ...
    Read More
  • Park West Gallery Enhances the Art Experience with New Interactive Technology

    As Park West Gallery celebrates 50 years in business, it’s continuing its mission of reimagining the art world with new and innovative ways for people to interact with art.Park West ...
    Read More
  • Meet James Coleman: 10 Questions with the Acclaimed Artist

    If you’re not familiar with the name “James Coleman,” you’re definitely familiar with his work.For over 17 years, Coleman supervised the creation of the hand-painted backgrounds for some of ...
    Read More