Getting started as an artist

Every artist has a story to tell about how they started as an artist. Some artists were the kid in the back of the room doodling instead of paying attention to the teacher. Some took art classes and some earned undergraduate degrees in art of earned a BFA.  Others are self-taught. Others started much later in life.  I believe that one of the beauties of art is that everyone has the potential to express a creative side.  In my story, I never expected to be an artist. I didn't study art in school. In fact, in many ways I am just the opposite. Yes, I majored in Economics and Business with a minor in Speech Communications.  Nothing artistic there.  After working for a few years after college I returned to school and earned an MBA (with High Honors!).  No art there.  Over a working career as a brand marketer I became familiar with art from my interactions with creative talent at ad agencies. I was the 'client' to the ad agency. You know the guys that look like idiots to Jon Hamm on Mad Men? That's me.  In my story, the discovery came a bit later.  My wife and I took a celebratory vacation to Italy for our 15th wedding anniversary. Rome, Florence, a mecca for art. I often say that I saw art in the place that the artist meant the art to be.  A sculpture in a particular spot in a church, sculpted by Michelangelo to be in that exact spot.  How powerful. How did he do that? What was he thinking that inspired the many decisions that must have been needed to create that work?  I wondered these things. Something clicked. Upon returning home, my wife encouraged me to explore art and I began painting.  I started painting in the studio of a local artist.  I learned from her. I absorbed. I asked questions. I practiced the art techniques. I learned about color, line, composition, styles, mediums, scale, value, texture. She is till my mentor and friend after so many years. I still paint at her studio on Monday nights.  While my work has migrated to abstraction and painting with oil and cold wax, I still paint in realism on these Monday nights.  It's good discipline, and I find it provides me the freedom to explore abstraction in a more passionate way.  So, that's my story of getting started in art.  There's much more to the story, but that's the way it began.