Sunday, August 19, 2012
I GREW UP in an orchard out in the country. Boredom was a constant issue, usually relieved by building forts and playing war with my brothers. I also read a lot, and drew pictures. The highlight of summer days was to run down to the mailbox at 11:00 am to get the mail (I was always sending away for free dog stuff from Purina coupons).
ONE DAY, when I was around 10, I found a matchbook with a picture of a pirate on it and the words "Draw Me". Inside the cover it said "Take your time and do a good job – this could be your 1st step to a scholarship AND a lifetime of creating art." My parents agreed to enrolling me and magic appeared in my life, about every 6 weeks, in a large envelope.
ART INSTRUCTION, INC. began in 1914, and is still going today. Tippy the Turtle, Cowboy, Boxer and Pirate adorned matchbooks and magazine ads to entice would-be-famous artists to learn at home. Their list of instructors was impressive. Famed alumni include John Clymer, Morrie Turner, and Steve Benson, just to name a few. Charles Schultz (of Peanuts comic strip) took the course while in high school, and then later became an instructor with the school. In fact, several of his comic characters, including Charlie Brown and Linus, were based on people that he worked with.
I DIDN'T know any of this at the time. I did know that anyone who would pay the tuition could take the course. But I felt special anyway. And, oh, it felt like Christmas morning when that package arrived.
AND it did lead to a lifetime of creating art as advertised.