I was somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 years old when I could no longer ignore the advertisements for Art Instruction Schools in whatever magazines I perused. I knew in my heart-of-hearts that I had the chops to be accepted to that school and become a great artist. What’s more, I was certain I could get the scholarship that they dangled in front of my face.
Remember Tippy? I’m sure you do. Art Instruction Schools advertisements were ubiquitous. They were in children’s magazines and in any adult magazine that a child might pick up with curiousity. Maybe not Playboy, but certainly McCalls or Good Housekeeping. I think there were other options to draw, but Tippy spoke to me.
I got out a piece of paper and a pencil, and I carefully copied Tippy. I filled out the necessary paperwork, folded it up, found an envelope and a stamp, and put my drawing in the mail.
Perhaps you will recall the scene in A Christmas Story where Ralphie watches the mail every day for his Orphan Annie secret decoder ring. Well, that was me. Every day I would sort through the mail, eagerly awaiting word on whether or not I had been accepted to this art school.
At long last, the eagerly-awaited correspondence arrived. Lo, and behold, I HAD BEEN ACCEPTED! It was disappointing to learn that I hadn’t received a scholarship, but it didn’t matter that much. Once Mom and Dad learned of the talent that their second-born child possessed, cost of the program wouldn’t matter. After all, Art Instruction Schools promised that there were jobs galore for those gifted few who qualified for their education.
Unfortunately, Mom didn’t quite see it the same way as I. And not being of the School of Gentle Childrearing that now exists for our grandkids, Mom said something like, “Don’t be ridiculous, Kris. Art Instruction School is nothing but a racket. Anyone who applies gets into their school and they charge a fortune for the art classes. And YOU DON’T HAVE TALENT.”
There went my art career. Not to mention my self esteem. Parents didn’t really worry about self esteem in those days. But dang it anyway.
The other evening, I was watching Kaiya, Mylee, and Cole for a few hours at their house. Cole came up to me, pencil and paper in hand, and asked, “Nana, can you draw me a horse?” My Art Instruction School acceptance immediately popped back in my head. I had another chance to display my artistic ability.
I can do this, I thought. I know I can. Here is what I drew…..
I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what I drew, but it certainly wasn’t a horse. Look at the back left leg. What the hell is that? Look at all the legs, for that matter.
About this time, Mylee wandered into the room, and asked me what I was doing. I explained that I was drawing a horse for Cole. She peeked over my shoulder at my drawing. She was quiet as she studied the drawing. Here was her assessment, word-for-word: “It’s actually not too bad, Nana. But the head is a bit…..awkward.”
That was certainly nicer than what my mother would have said.