20 years ago I was born in a little log cabin in the woods. Oops, wrong story.
Let me try again. Fourteen years ago I was working at a job I hated, barely making enough money for my wife and I to survive in a small apartment. (sound familiar) So, my brother with a double degree from The University of Iowa told me to go back to college so I can get a job I like. (Do they exist?) my parents got into the act then my wife. It became a real pain in the a---. I know they all meant well, but you see, I tried the college thing before. I could never stick with it, pay for it or even get into it at all. I was 32 years old and basically knew what I was doing was probably it.
So, my family did not relent. I kept getting static on going to college to get my degree and join the ranks of many who get up in the morning and still go to a crummy job, the only difference is they paid money to go to school to get that crummy job.
One day I cracked, I told my family that if they would leave me alone forever about college, I would sign up for a class and see what happens. (Oh my goodness, what happened)
I waited for the first day of classes at The College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, IL. before I registered for a class. Since I waited so long, I needed the instructors consent to go. ( you see, I really did not want to go, clever huh) I left a message with the instructor for an advertising class. You see, I had some sales experience and people always tell me I have an outgoing personality, so I figured ok I'll try this.
Unfortunately (I thought at the time) the instructor called me back. I was elated to find out that I did not understand hardly anything this man was saying. His harsh Chinese accent had me baffled. To tell you the truth I was elated. All the way to the first day of class I was thinking, perfect, an instructor I can not understand in a school I did not want to go to. I will flunk out within a month and go back home and spend my evenings after work like they were meant to be spent, with a beer bitching about this crummy world that I can do nothing about.
First day, actually evening at class I take a seat in the back row, no supplies bought since I waited so long to register, a look of why am I hear on my face and a profound distaste for me being there. I will NEVER EVER FORGIVE THAT MAN. David Chu is his name. You see, I did not realize you needed drawing skills for advertising. The course book left that out. I could not even make stick figures. So over the next few classes, my short comings as a drawer came out, which led to the weirdest thing that ever happened to me. I found out, this instructor actually cared about his students learning. Yes, I know many teachers do, also many do not. He would sit next to me and literally take me by the hand to show me how to make the proper marks, the proper way to hold the pencil, everything. I mean he really cared, plus, his accent seemed to change. No lie, after two weeks I thought I was Chinese. I understood every word from his mouth. Because of him, I finished that class. He gave me a B for the class. (I was a trouble maker in high school, barely graduated) He told me on the last day, my work was below average, but my effort was off the charts. He recommended I take drawing classes in the Fine Art department.
The next semester I took two classes and registered on the first available day. David Chu and The College of DuPage changed my entire outlook and then focus.
I ended up taking many more classes there. I loved the drawing so much I went into painting. A few years later, I found a retired artist who took me under her wing and gave me private instruction.
That is the story of my formal art education. The day I decided to try and be a professional artist was about fifteen years ago. I was finished with what I thought was a very bad oil painting. I looked at the final product for a month before I was disgusted and decided to toss it in the garbage. I was also thinking that where I was skill level was it for me. Laura (my patient wife) came home and asked where the painting was. I told her I threw it out, she got pissed and went to go get it. It wasn't in the trash area of our apartment for five minutes before someone took it. WHAT !!!!
The next week I signed up for Home Town Art Gallery. They are not around anymore (too bad, I really liked them) 1 month later I sold my first painting. A woman in Santa Rosa, CA. bought it to hang up in the living room of the new house she just purchased.
I have sold 80 paintings since that first one. I still work at a job I do not like, making less then I want to, but now it is different. My wife and I now have a house instead of an apartment, and even in a recession, I see the chance of the life I envision as a full time artist. 20 years ago I had no vision of any kind, hell I haven't had a beer in a decade. Even though things are still a struggle, things are looking up.