Throughout my high school years, I was always the type of student to learn by practical means, a hands on approach would yield far better grades and results than academic lessons. Sitting and listening to a teacher talk for hours whilst we took notes never seemed to work for me, I would listen intently but it always seemed that the knowledge I was trying to take I would go in one ear and out of the other.
When I was thirteen, my parents told me that because of my dad’s job, we were moving to London for four years. I had always known that for four years of my childhood would be spent on a European adventure. He had to choose a period of time that would suit the family best, and they thought that my last 3 years of high school would be the perfect time.
In English schools, while English language, English literature, science and math were mandatory examinations called GCSE’s, children are able to select subjects that they prefer to study to make up a total of eleven subjects. My parents met with the head teacher (what Americans would refer to as a Principle) to discuss my options.
English High School
We explained that I was better in practical sessions and were told that I should opt for physical education, art, graphics and two languages. These sounded like fantastic options, I enjoyed sport, I had always liked drawing and the idea of speaking different languages sounded very interesting.
I took French and German as my chosen languages. I did very well in French and quickly had a good grasp of the language, German on the other hand was a different situation entirely. I think I enjoyed learning French because it is the language of love, an incredibly soft and delicate sounding language, whereas I found German to be harsh and hard hitting.
The graphics classes proved to be a little disappointing too, far too much technical drawing and math involved. The physical education was real fun, we would play various English sports like soccer and rugby. I really liked soccer and still follow an English team to this day, a team based in the east end of London called West Ham United.
While I enjoyed most of the classes, the one that changed my life was art. It came naturally to me, and because I enjoyed it, I excelled in every assignment I was given.
A Gap Year
After leaving high school with very respectable grades, I had a year left before we as a family were due to move back to America. I talked with my parents and they agreed that I would be best to go to college back home which gave me a year free from studies.
My parents said it would be a great experience for me to do some travelling, not the hard core pack packing through Asia kind of travelling, but I planned to visit a few European capitals, and stay in hostels on my way, it proved to be the making of me.
Before my travelling adventure I was unsure what I wanted to do at college. After visiting Paris, I found my calling, I wanted to be an artist. I took night classes and in the end, stayed in Paris for a whole year. In that year I managed to get quite a following for a sixteen-year-old, I even sold a few pieces of art.
After four years, the whole family moved back to the USA. I had decided that I didn’t want to go to college, I was good at art, and no amount of books or college lectures could help me in my chosen vocation.
To my surprise my mom and dad fully supported me. One rule was that I would take a night class once a week in business management. I wasn’t too keen but my parents thought it was important that I had something to fall back on if my art career didn’t work out.
They supported me so much my father turned our garage into a studio for me. It was perfect in every way, other than the fact it was freezing. Dad soon sorted this situation. He searched the internet and found a website called http://myinfraredheaters.net/, he bought a top of the range infrared heater and it warmed the studio nicely, now the studio was absolutely amazing!
Ten years on, after moving out of my parents house, I have a successful business (I am thankful for my business management course now!)
We create unique pieces of art made to order, and thanks to the internet, some my pieces can be found as far out at south east Asia.
Before I left for Europe, I wouldn’t have imagined in a thousand years that in adult life I would become an artist. But with a little support and some hard work, everything seems to be paying off quite well.