The seeds were planted early. My first working space was a closet. To my five year old eyes it seemed large. I had a shelf-type table across the back of the closet that I used as a desk. There was an overhead light. I did my first drawings from memory, drawings I thought were terrible and distorted compared to what people really looked like. I abandoned that mode of work, copied comic strips and cartoons.
When I was in second grade mom sent me to oil-painting lessons on Saturdays. The teacher put emphasis on how to copy paintings by making a grid.
My mother sent me with pictures to copy: a photo of my grandfather, someone else’s drawing of a Scottie dog like the one we owned.
I liked to draw small doodles, imagining land contours, ends connecting to the water edges like maps. I made carvings in ivory soap, and figures I built in snow thrilled the neighbors. A pastel drawing of a fish made in 5th grade was stolen by a classmate, which I took as a symbol of success.
In the 6th grade I journeyed to the Boston Museum on Saturdays, by myself, for a drawing class. It was a one hour train ride to Bay Back station, then two subway changes to reach Huntington Avenue. Miles from home, I sat looking at plaster statues of classical Roman or Greek figures in a huge freezing room. Trying every week to make my pencil replicate what I was seeing, I felt like a speck overwhelmed by the space and scale.