Are our talents inherted of learned?


Is there a gene for painting or drawing? Is the gift of Painting or Drawing in born or learnt?

I was talking to my mother in law( Chong Moy Fong) last night and congratulated her for the great success and talents of his son Mario Ng who for years in Mauritius lived off his art and teaching Art. Unfortunately, the market for Art is not locally developed enough for Mario to make a decent living; he has since migrated to Australia.

My mother in law told me the very interesting story of her father who in his days without training had the talent of drawing sketches. He was commissioned by his fellows’ villagers of Mei Shien to draw their pictures and their relatives. He was gifted. My Mother in law contributed this particular gift to have been genetically transmitted to Mario.

Last night going through Frickr of my nephew I saw the wonderful painting of his brother. Whereas Mario had undergone years of training in Montreal and later at Ecole des beaux Arts at the Sorbonne, nephew Steven Lam an architecture student did not receive training in Painting as far as I know.


I believe that the grains of the painting and drawing  are in all of us. The potential is latent and waiting to be developed. Our son Oliver in his graduate year of HSC attempted to Art as a subject. He did not pursue in the field.

Perhaps there is a special gene for Painting & Drawing, I trust most of us have received it, yet most of us have not developed it to excellence.

Are such gifts then in born or acquired by training?


#1 Steven Lam on 08.19.09 at 5:56 pm

This is a very interesting article!

Let’s take the case of a baby, for example. We assume that the baby has not learnt anything from the world yet, except for the immediate world that he has experienced after being born and for his ‘inherent’ intellect. Further borrowing from your example, if the baby is presented with a drawing, one with a lot of details, colour, meaning. What will the baby notice first? I believe some of us will be more attracted to the pattern. Others might be more interested in the colour. Some might ‘see’ more meaning and notice an underlaying pattern behind the drawing.

This raises several questions in my mind:
1. Why would one be attracted to a particular aspect of this drawing and not the other? Was the baby’s mind already ‘pre-set’ by genetics? Or is it simply down to chance? i.e. Presented with so much information, the mind picks any aspect of the drawing that is ‘read’ first.

2. What is talent? How would we judge that the baby who picked up on the pattern is more ‘talented’ than the baby who picked up on the ‘colors’ instead? Talent, suddenly, seems a very subjective term!

Lastly, i would sit on the fence and say that some skills can be learnt, and some cannot. 🙂


#2 joseph on 08.20.09 at 10:18 am

Thanks for your comments. I believe it is not a question of either in born or acquired, it can well be both.

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