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Can Anyone Be an Artist?

When I was invited to the DreamWorks Animation Campus earlier this month, it pained me to not be able to bring my 16yo daughter Maddy with me. Maddy is an amazing artist, and in fact hopes to one day be a storyboard artist for…you guessed it…DreamWorks. I knew that she, of anyone I knew, would be particularly enchanted by the special campus tour and behind-the-scenes workshops we were able to attend.*

Now, I’m no artist, but it wasn’t hard to see how the filmmakers at DreamWorks could be inspired by their surroundings. The sprawling campus is gorgeous, complete with fountains and courtyards and koi ponds.
DreamWorks Animation Campus

{three photos on the right – credit Eric Charbonneau}

The atmosphere in the offices was fun and creative and collaborative. Art from the DreamWorks movies and more hung all over the walls, and little toys and action figures lined many of the window panes.

By the middle of our day on the campus, I was starting to feel a certain buzz of creative energy, just in time for a Cave Painting Workshop with DreamWorks Visual Development Artist Margaret Wuller. We gathered at long tables with art supplies at the ready (even aprons and gloves!), while she used an overhead projector to walk us through the recreation of a scene from the movie THE CROODS.

THE CROODS Cave Painting Workshop with DreamWorks Visual Development Artist Margaret Wuller

{photo credit Eric Charbonneau}

Here you can see the look on my face that say “Ummm…what? What are we doing? I can’t draw! I’m not an artist!” I think it perfectly captures my hesitation at this exact moment.

Getting Ready for THE CROODS Cave Painting Workshop at DreamWorks Animation Campus

{photo credit Eric Charbonneau}

I was feeling so insecure at this point, and like I might just make a fool of myself. But I thought of my daughter Maddy, and how she would have relished this moment, and I decided to just go for it. Though Margaret was directing us with her own particular drawing, she encouraged us to produce whatever we wanted within the scope of a cave painting of our family.

Here is my finished drawing:

My Cave Drawing based on DreamWorks THE CROODS

That’s my husband at the bottom, encircling all of us in his embrace. My two boys are in the lower left, my girls are all represented by things they are involved in (Abby – swimming, Maddy – music, Hannah – writing), and I’m in the upper left.

Yeah…so…not amazing. Maddy would have done WAY better. But my heart is in it, and the process of creating it led to a memory I will cherish.

This whole experience made me start to wonder: can anyone be an artist? Is it a skill that can be learned, or are you born with a special talent for it? Some of the other bloggers and I chatted about this during our visit to DreamWorks, and the question still lingers for me.

What do you think – can anyone be an artist? And I’m curious – do you have any artists in your family?

*I mentioned during the event how much my daughter would have loved to be there, and several wonderful folks at DreamWorks insisted that if we could come back on our own, they would be happy to give my daughter a tour of the campus and show her around. They were all SO INCREDIBLY NICE!

**This trip was provided by 20th Century Fox and DreamWorks Animation. Although I am providing a series of posts in return for the experience, THIS particular post is not part of that promotion. I’m sharing it as a personal experience only.

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  • http://www.freakyperfect.com Amy Bradley-Hole

    Great post, Stacey. My son and I were talking about this just this very morning on the way to school. He’s been saying for years that he wants to be an artist when he grows up. He loves drawing, and he’s pretty darn good at it. But is he good ENOUGH? And does that matter? Who knows? I told him if he really wants to pursue this, he should start talking to his art teacher about what he needs to work on, what classes he should take, and whether he shows promise. He’s only 8, but it’s never too early to start working towards a career goal if it’s your passion!

    • http://treerootandtwig.com Stacey @ Tree, Root, and Twig

      Thanks, Amy! You’re absolutely right – it’s *never* too early, and as a parent, it has always kept me on my toes to be as supportive as possible of my kids’ interests and passions. And when it comes to “talent,” I wonder if it’s just a healthy combination of interest and dedication to learning. What did Einstein say about genius? 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration? :)

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