I used to hide in my bedroom.
I would have gone out with my friends, but most of them had much more exciting things to do with their time than hang out with a teenager who had absolutely no clue what to do with himself and no confidence being in a crowd.
My bedroom was safe from the rest of the house. Being spotted meant being subjected to any type of cruelty if my parents weren’t adequately distracted.
I became a night owl. Listening to music and drawing was my escape. I would work on perfecting my anatomy, linework, or storytelling while exploring alternative music. The next day I’d awaken for school. Exhausted because I wasn’t getting enough sleep.
I was a bit obsessed with learning the craft.
I often showed up late, and I got pink slips and a horrible attendance record for my early morning classes. But my grades were good, so nobody made a big deal out of it.
I would hand in stacks of work to my art teacher, going way beyond the requirements of our assignments, which kept me in her good graces. If our small high school principal was looking for me, she’d say I was in the bathroom, knowing I would walk in late to her class. She was an angel.
I became an artist not because I wanted to. In fact, I’ve tried to stop many, many times. My wife, in-laws, and children all know it’s not an obsession – it’s sustenance.
As I get older, I accept it, and I’m grateful that it continues to give me a wonderful life.