Bic Pens & the Magic of Opportunity

In Art, Life by Emerson Jane BrowneLeave a Comment

In the Footnote of the post below I commented about how Jeff Gregory continues to amaze me with his sketches done using a ball point pen.  A few hours later and I came across Juan Francisco Casas!


He uses only ballpoint pens to create his photorealistic portraits! Note that in the photo above he is using a regular old blue bic pen!


I am in awe of talent, education, and opportunities to create like that.

The book Outliers has greatly changed the way I am willing to talk about success and accomplishment.  I guess "There but for the grace of God go I" cuts both ways.  I truly am in awe of this work.  But I am also very envious. 

Juan Francisco Casas not only was willing to spend the 10,000 hours it took to become this sort of Master, he also surely had the opportunities that allowed him to do so.  For instance, he probably has parents who recognized, valued, and encouraged his interest and talent in art.  They also probably had the means to send him to art classes and probably even University.  (I do not speak or read Spanish so am unable to read his site.) 

Ha!  I went searching and though Wikipedia only had a stub I found him on MySpace and I quote

I have a degree in Arts (BA), two postdegree masters
(MA) and I am finishing my doctorate (PhD). I also was a teacher of the
University of Granada during 4 years.

Malcolm Gladwell writes in Outliers

Everything we have learned in Outliers says that success follows a predictable course.  It is not the brightest who succeed.  …Nor is success simply the sum of the decisions and efforts we make on our own behalf.  It is, rather, a gift. Outliers are those who have been given opportunities – and who have had the strength and presence of mind to seize them.  …To build a better world we need to replace the patchwork of lucky breaks and arbitrary advantages that today determine success … with a society that provides opportunities for all. …Now multiply that sudden flowering of talent by every field and profession.  The world could be so much richer than the world we have settled for..

The reason that this comes up for me so strongly with posting Juan Francisco Casas drawings is that I used to draw well, very well.  I loved and still do love art.  I wanted to become a professional artist but I was born at the wrong time into the wrong family. 

Gladwell goes into the importance of timing; of the year in which someone is born which in turn dictates the society the person is raised in and the society they enter in their early 20's when starting a career.

I was born in Ohio in 1954.  I was raised during a time period and in a family that were very left brain oriented.  Become a Doctor or a Lawyer or study Business; well actually since I am female the career choices were Nurse or Teacher.  Art was not valued as a viable skill.  It was a nice hobby, but nothing to ever get serious about. 

On the other hand, Juan Francisco Casas was born in La Carolina (Andalusia, Spain) in 1976.  I was 20 in 1974.  He was 20 in 1996.  What a world of difference our birth times make in how a career in art was viewed.  I know little of Spain but the difference of La Carolina (Andalusia, Spain) as compared to Cleveland, Ohio, USA may have had an additional big effect on the worlds we were raised in.

I will post some of my old artwork here as soon as I am able to scan it in.

Emerson Jane Browne
I am Emerson Jane Browne. I write about Brains, Apps, & Productivity, and many other aspects of Life. I speak to TBI support groups, speak and teach workshops at tech, music, and writer conferences. I consult with organizations on strategic planning and building a strong community.