My advice: Just start using them and He will bring opportunities out of the woodwork.
I think all of us have a certain thing we're really good at...music, math, painting, listening, counseling, athletics, writing, encouraging, organizing, fixing problems, and so on. It's something that comes rather easy to us. Something we often take for granted. However, sometimes, we believe the lie that we aren't any good at these things and let it drop to the wayside, 'squandering our talents.' Matt. 25 tells of a master who gives each of his workers a certain amount of talents.
I liken this to God giving us certain abilities (things we're born naturally good at doing) and asking us to use them for His Glory. If we bury them, it's like saying He doesn't know what He's doing and not only do we not trust ourselves with this talent, but we also don't trust God. Essentially, we are saying, "Um, thanks God, for giving me this, but You don't know what you're doing. I'm not good enough. I think I'll just sit on this and let other people with similar talents do all the work."
This is what I've been doing for years. I have been drawing since I was able to pick up a crayon. I remember sitting on my Grandmom's floor (mom's mom) and rifling through my special drawer to find crayons and paper at the age of 3. I wasn't any good then, but I had a passion. I just needed to hone my abilities.
It wasn't long before I began to shy away from drawing. A lady, who is now very well known in the art community (Donna Peters), was our neighbor and when she saw my drawings, she wanted to give me free...FREE...drawing lessons. I was too shy and wouldn't go over to her house. I still kick myself for that.
However, what I am doing now all started with a birthday party for a friend (Wendy). She had called in a lady to do a painting party with us. Our subject was a wrought-iron type cross. Our colors were pretty much pre-chosen, and the cross was already drawn out (this was super easy for me and very relaxing), but we could decide how to decorate and accessorize our painting. At the end of the party, I donated the painting to Lifeline Adoption Services because I had said I would submit something into the TableScapes 2009 silent auction coming up April 25th.
When ladies from Lifeline saw the cross painting, I began to generate some interest in my work. One girl, Marie, went ahead and asked me to paint a cross like the one I'd done, but in brown in blues. I agreed...for $45. (Live and learn.) On a side note: NEVER tell the price until you have accessed how much time it's going to take to complete a painting. I spent about 10 hours on this painting, trying to figure out the background, the shades of blue, and then the actual adornments, etc. An since I usually charge $20/hour, this painting should have cost an upward of $200. Like I said...live and learn.
However, it's done and I'm very pleased with it.
Now I have been hired to paint not one, but TWO murals for a lady's two girls. I was originally going to do in directly on the wall, but she said if they move, they wanted to be able to take it with them, so we decided to do it on a big canvas and then mount the canvas on the wall. I can't wait to get started and I've done some preliminary sketches. It's been a lot of fun (and hard work) learning to draw horses again. I grew up with horses and have always been fond of them.
This same lady wants a 4x6 painting of a horse for herself after I'm done with the murals and has told me she already has ideas for Christmas and her other friends are interested in hiring me, too. This is before I've even completed the murals!!!
For God's glory, I hope that the paintings with show the talents He's given me.