I figured that generally 4 frames is enough in an animation. When you are using a lot of frames it tends to get a little bit messy. For smooth results I'd say using 4 keyframes and 4 transition frames would work.
Pixel art does use innate talent, but it's not everything. Heck, everything uses talent. I've got poor motor skills, which makes me mess up in most games, but that didn't keep me out of the early rounds for most game competitions. I'm a bit weak when it comes to imagining things, but that doesn't mean my pixel art is bad. But it does screw up things like when I try to draw perspectives and stuff, which is why I'd slant my games to looking like a side-view thing ala Golden Axe and a lot of SNES platformers.
So, I guess it needs work. And if there's anything I've learned from university and local game clans.. it's that the you'll learn a lot faster by hanging out with the best. No matter how bad you are, you'll learn more in 2 weeks competing with skilled person than you'll learn solo or through tutorials in a year. And I'm not exaggerating.
Disclaimer: Any sarcasm in my posts will not be mentioned as that would ruin the purpose. It is assumed that the reader is intelligent enough to tell the difference between what is sarcasm and what is not.
I find it's all in the perseverance when spriting something. Generally, my beginning sprites are just outlines and look rather crude, but if you keep on adding detail with the pixel, you'll get something that looks good. If it helps, try to think of your sprite in real-life, pixelled. Also, jump out of using the "normal" pallette--try making one of your own.
And in regards to animation, I always find the more unhyperbolical number of frames give the better results.