I started off my college adventure studying Architecture in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After two years of technical drawing and model building my advisor, the senior architecture lecturer, had a straight conversation with me:
"Listen, you're just not cut out for architecture," he began. "Your work is too... well... beautiful!" He pulled out my sophomore end-of-year project from my portfolio. "Look at this!" he pointed to the schematic drawing of a rose, beautifully detailed and precise.
Overlaying the drawing were multiple layers of watercolour, highlighting the delicacy of the rose in subtle hues of pinks and greens. "Really... painting your final schematic drawing?!" he asked. "In... what is this... watercolours?"
I couldn't see the problem. It was a perfect schematic down to the last centimeter.
"You'd be better off somewhere else, somewhere creative. Architecture is all about detail. You'll not be able to paint your plans anywhere but here at University. And even here, it's not really acceptable. Your project stood out from all the others because of its.. uniqueness."
Isn't that good? I thought.
"Let's face it, it's beautiful. I'd buy it to hang on my wall if it were in an art market, but I have no idea how to begin to mark it as a schematic drawing." He passed it across to me. "I'll need another one. No water colours this time!" He tried not to smile.
I took the board and stuffed it into my portfolio case.
He loosened his tie as he packed the papers from his desk. I must have been the last student to counsel for the day. I thanked him, shook his hand, and headed for the door for many hours of redraughting a new black-and-white schematic. How dull.
He picked up his bag, followed me to the door and said, "Listen, if I were you, I'd take another path. You're a talented kid. The structure of the years ahead of you will drive you crazy. It will stifle this kind of creativity for sure..." he gestured at my portfolio, "it may crush it perhaps."
I dealt with many things in that single moment. Hearing him suggest that I was both talented and in direct conflict to the path I'd set off on made me laugh and sigh. I stood there as he locked his office door behind him.
"Really," he added, "I've been here for years... and I have to wait until I retire to get back to my painting... five more years of teaching the youngest 'great architects' then I'll head straight to Florida to paint with coloured stucco and never look back. I loved that when I was your age... I spent many years not painting. Meditate on it kid," he said.
We headed for the parking lot. Professor X to his car, me to another path altogether...
Seeing as he was my 'Guidance' Counsellor I though that I should give his guidance some thought. And I did. I moved the next semester to another University, got straight A's as a double-major in Fine Art and K-12 Education, learning simultaneously how to paint and how to teach how to paint.
My senior thesis was presented above all the others in the Uni Interdisciplinary Competition (the best projects from each university in Pennsylvania) and I graduated with honors with a Bachelor of Science in Art Education & Bachelors of Education. My thesis on the Artistic Development of Adults is still in the Uni Library from what I have been told.
Prior to graduation I studied abroad as well as taught Art (yes, as a real teacher) to Primary and Secondary students in Pennsylvania, USA as well as in North London, England.
After marrying a beautiful red-head from the emerald isle, I opened a successful Portrait Photography Studio in the UK, flew to San Francisco to study Website Design, created some of the first websites in the UK and finally set off together to travel the world, taking website-design along with us...
We now live in Australia happily building web-architecture which is a good combination of my artistic right-brain and my analytical left. And I can build hundreds of them using all the colours and styles available in the palette of imagination - and all the structure of an architect.
Making things LOOK beautiful and WORK.
Many thanks for the great advice Professor, I hope you are enjoying your time painting in Florida...