So, when we last left our hero, he was making his way through junior high, trying to find his way amid the hustle and bustle of managing electives. Mostly it was about art: industrial versus plain. I chose to paint and draw, and then eventually turned my back on the whole thing and chose to fill out as many of those required bits of college prep as possible. Foreign language being the biggest hole to fill. That and keeping my foot in the band room door. But no art.
It wouldn't be until my junior year in high school that I found myself back in art class. This time it was Basic Drawing. I was patient and respectful as I was led through the basics of basics, like how to hold a pencil and how to make various shades of gray. Contours and shadows and perspective and all the rest. And then, somewhere around the halfway point in the semester, we were finally given a real assignment: photo realism. We were given magazines and told to select a picture, then divide it into one inch squares. Then we took a piece of blank paper and divided it up into the same number of squares. All we had to do was reproduce those same squares, one at a time, on our blank paper. Which is what I did. Eventually, I ended up with a pencil version of a doctor making a pitch of a pain reliever. It was a nice piece of work. I was proud of it. The blacks, the whites and everything in between. My older brother saw it and liked it enough to put a frame around it and hang it in his house. Flattering to be sure.
When it came time to register for the next semester, I briefly considered signing up for Advanced Drawing. But by now, I had completed most of my credit requirements. If I wanted to, I could have a free period. I could do nothing for an hour. Or I could sit in a room and explore more values of my pencil. Nothing won.
In my senior year, I didn't have to take very many classes at all. I was still in band, and I was required to take some kind of Language Arts and a math class. This left me with a lot of empty space on my schedule. So I signed up for Ceramics. No pencils. No paper. Just clay. Lots of it. I spent a semester squishing and mashing and punching air bubbles out of mud. I made a few things that ended up being glazed, fired and ultimately displayed on my mom's piano. Flattering? Not as much as the doctor drawing.
In my senior year, I was registered for another semester of Ceramics, but a conflict arose: I had a girlfriend. I had a reason not to be in class, and for the first time in my school career, I skipped a class. Or several. I didn't produce much. But somehow, via kindness and charity, I passed. And this is how I set myself up perfectly for a career in the arts.