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"There is no such thing as talent!"


Janis Bryant, July 28, 2007, at my home, conducting one of our final art lessons.


I met Janis in 2002, when I sought an art teacher, someone to teach me how to paint with watercolors. I was timid and whispered to her that I had been told by a middle school teacher that I had no talent and I wasn't sure if I would be wasting her time. She said, in her loudest voice, for all the room to hear while waving her hand in an expansive gesture as if to tell the whole world, "There is no such thing as talent! There is desire, and you already have that or you wouldn't be here. And there's skill, and I will teach you that." I came back every Saturday for 5 years, when she finally said, "I am retiring. I have taught you everything I know and I have nothing more to teach." The few of us left in the class hated to see her go and close the gallery where we had made our second home so she came to my house a few times. She told us we must be artists on our own now, that we no longer needed her. It was one of the scariest days of my life.

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