When I was 12, my dad moved to Maryland with my brother. I stayed in Missouri with Mom and would visit Dad during summers. I was always drawing at the time and had dreams of becoming an animator for Disney. My dad encouraged me with compliments and drawing supplies.
The summer of '90 he asked me to stay. He had found an art magnet program that would allow me to study art while attending high school. It was at a high school near his work place in Bethesda . In order to be accepted, I would have to create a portfolio with a full sketchbook and some life drawings. He offered to enroll me in art classes at the University of Maryland to help build up the portfolio. It broke Mom's heart, but I said yes.
I sketched every day and went to art classes at night building up my portfolio. Over time I had a decent amount of work (it's still somewhere down in the basement). Dad and I met with the head of the art department at the magnet school. I remember him thumbing quickly through my sketchbook that I had spent so much time on and barely glancing through the nude life drawings I had accumulated. I guess he saw some faint glimmer of something because he told me I was accepted. I would attend the high school but wouldn't start the art program until the second half of the year. It felt like a huge achievement--I was headed towards something.
Instead of going to the local school, Dad would drive me every day to the school that hosted the magnet program (26 miles away from the local school). I would walk through the hall where the art center was on my way to classes. The work the students were creating would be on display in a glass case outside. I would look at it and stupidly judge myself against the quality of the other students. I felt good.
One day I walked down the hall and a new set of paintings were on display. It was a series of men playing pool in a pool hall. They were incredibly life-like. I stood for a long time looking at them. I remember thinking "I don't even know how to apply paint to a canvas" and "They seem from another world--she must have had to visit this strange place in the city. I'm just a dipshit from North County" and "I could never do that" and "I'm not good enough." I went home and told my dad I wanted to drop out.
I have to give my dad credit. I was so young, stupid, and stubborn. He had gone WAY out of his way for me. He relented and allowed me to quit and attend the local high school. I was known as "a quitter" for a while.
I ended up moving back with my mom when the school year was over. It would be over 20 years before I attempted anything with art again.
: I fondly remember taking the gorgeous Beach Drive to get from the high school to Dad's work in a Jeep owned by Oliver (whose friends adopted me on my first day of school and took care of me).