Cleaning out cupboards certainly bring back memories. So it's story-telling time.
I've always been an artist.
I attended Elizabeth O'Grady Kindergarten in Grange, South Australia from about age 3 until 5. I most enjoyed poetry and listening to books being read and showed the illustrations. But the main fascination was with the finger paints (powder mixed with water), where we stood in front of an easel and painted. For me, the feeling of 'belonging' was so overwhelming.
I also remember the shock when my art was called out as an example, and hung in pride of place. From memory I was the one who did not do 'stick figures'.
From Kindergarten I went on to Grange Primary School (7 years - until age 12). For a while the most art we did was in geography - where we used the flat side of a 'lead' (graphite) pencil, to smear over the back of a parchment (cooking) sheet, then trace maps into our books. I hated the mess. So hid the fact that I didn't do this - I hand-drew my maps instead - and the teacher never seemed to know the difference.
A big influence was a teacher named Mrs. Churchill. She really cared about teaching us to draw. And I found it fascinating. And draw I did! Pencil and biro (ball-point pen). I had a great many drawings, often doing them in classes when I should be doing something else. Or at home, on my stomach in the living room in front of the radio (big cabinet and yes, we would look at it when on!). I loved coloured pencils, rulers, rubbers (erasers), and collected as many as I could.
Then devastation struck. Mrs Churchill died 'unexpectedly'.
And - our classrooms burned down in a fire. I lost all my drawings, and supplies.
We had to fill out insurance forms. I had my losses questioned. It seems that 12 rulers, 124 coloured pencils, etc. was not the 'norm'. I'd only counted them the day before and we used to sit 2 to a desk, so fortunately my desk-sharer could vouch for me.
I lost heart for a long while. I was in grade 5 at the time, I think. But then became fascinated with mapping pens - very fine nibbed pens. I think up until that time we were still using inkwells and nibbed pens to write with. i think in grade 3 we changed to fountain pens, which I still love. While biros existed, they weren't allowed to be used in school for a while, because of the mess they made when they leaked (if you have clothes ruined with this ink - use hairspray! I didn't find this out for decades!)
I drew a lot in Sunday school at St. Agnes, in Grange. The rector at the time encouraged me - and I loved the church architecture (1800s), the stained glass windows and more at the time. So a lot of what I drew were religious scenes. I started to see a future in art when I drew a crucifix scene, and a school pal offered me a shilling (1/- - 10 Au cents), and after I got over the shock, agreed, only to get orders from 3 other children! I probably was around 10 years old?
When I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, my choices would include 'artist' even though, to me, it wasn't an occupation. Then I learnt that a 'commercial' artist was an occupation. So said that.
At age 12 I graduated through to High School (Henley High School, Henley Beach - a new school - perfect for baby boomers! post-war boom!). Graduation for most was 3 years (Intermediate Certificate), 4 for skills to get into things like Nursing School, and 5 years before graduating to University for professions like becoming a doctor, scientist, etc.
To my amazement you got to choose which subjects you wanted to take - between 'boy' subjects, and 'girl' subjects. Reading over the list, the only course for 'Art' was in the 'boy' list. Yup. Got my parents to sign so I could do that.
Maths I, Maths II, Science (later became Physics, Chemistry), Latin, English, Home Economics (wasn't allowed to do woodwork), and Art.
Girls did Bookkeeping, Typing, English, Basic Maths, Home Economics, and Dictation/Secretarial, I think.
SO glad I got to do boy's subjects! I wouldn't have survived the 'girl's' subjects!
I was expecting Art to teach how to do art. But it turned out to be 'commercial' art - lettering, and more lettering (sign-writers were in demand!), design, and history of art. Our classes were about 50 kids - of these 45 were boys. Art was a low-demand class so only had 5-10 kids. I was the only girl.
We had a young teacher who was often absent with illness, and an older European woman (Mrs Tornoff?) who knew a lot about artists (history of art). What was strange was with absences, I would take over the teaching aspect of the class from time to time.
I had decided to leave school with my Intermediate Certificate - I wanted to go to the Adelaide School of Art in North Adelaide, which was the thing to do at the time. My education books and such were paid for by the Repat (Repatriation Department, due to my father being T.P.I. - Totally and Permanently Incapacitated due to contracting T.B. during WWII), so I presumed they would pay for art studies.
I sat for my Intermediate exams. Our art exams were not marked by our teachers, they were actually sent to the Art School in North Adelaide.
My art teacher came to me after the exam, and told me that I had done the worst work she had ever seen me do. I was nervous, and it probably was.
The results would come out in the newspapers. (The Advertiser). We would know when they were being released, and go into the city and wait in laneway outside the newspaper office, to grab them hot off the presses to see our results. Very emotional. Some crying because they passed, others crying because they didn't. Way past our regular bedtime.
I was astounded to find I'd gained an 'A' - the very top grade available (95%-100%)!
This actually was a 'pass' to get into the School of Art at the time. Like a 'diploma'.
But therein was a problem. My parents didn't see art as an appropriate occupation, and my father's condition was deteriorating - and then there was the Repat.
I remember very clearly ... going to the city, being in a dark room with 7 men, sitting at the end of the table, while they questioned me. Quite intimidating to 15/16 year-old me!
And they made me feel stupid and bad for wanting to do art. They proposed to me that since my grades in other subjects were good, I should continue on at school.
But with my Dad's T.B. progressing I only stayed at High school another 6 months. He would scour the newspaper each day for jobs, and he found one I applied for and left.
I never received the schooling or art degrees I needed to get jobs or progress with my art.
But still I did much, all in my own way, and still love graphic (commercial-type) art.
But have always found myself feeling like a 'lesser' artist through not having gained a degree or certificates.
In rather astounding ways at times.I'll share more with you soon ...
drawing done with mapping pen is from when I was 11 or 12, no older. I
signed it, and my signature changed when I was 12. It's not accurate, I
did it from a blurry newspaper photo.