When did you decide to become an artist?

When did you decide to become an artist?
 UCLA Quad

After studying geology and learning about the three different kinds of rocks: igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic...after studying botany and learning about deoxyribonucleic acid and the theorem for photosynthesis...after studying James Joyce ... I was getting nowhere fast. Actually, it wasn’t so fast. I was at UCLA, taking all of the required courses and didn't care about any of them. I was just going through the motions and incredibly frustrated  by my lack of involvement.

Out of frustration and boredom, I knew I had to find something else to study. So, I thought, with undeniable logic, "WelI, I’m neat, why don’t I try the art department?” How's that for personal insight? I registered for Art 101. This was a prerequisite design class with emphasis on line and color. I attended my first class and listened to the professor describe our homework assignment. We were to render a series of lines to achieve a design, or something like that. As he spoke, it was like  a laser beamed  through my brain, targeting exactly what I needed to create. It immediately triggered a vision  and I instantly  understood what he wanted us to do. It was just there, and I saw it in three dimensions.

It was a magical experience, and I’d never had one like it before, a thunderbolt. The French call it a "coup de foudre" –– a shot to the heart. This was a "coup de brain!" I went home with my India Ink and drawing paper under my arm and completed the assignment. At our next meeting, the professor held up the designs that best illustrated the assignment. Mine was the best in the class. Shockingly, I was the only one who drew the design in a three-dimensional way. The only one. This continued through the semester. There was a visceral connection between the assignments and my artistic sensibility. You might remember that I’d been denying this part of me all of my life.

At last, I was beginning to realize that there was a side of me that I had been rejecting for years and it had emerged. Throughout the semester, I was either the best in the class or close to it. And by the way, the class was filled with people who had been studying art for years. This was quite startling to me.

You're wondering where the examples of this artwork are? They were being stored in a friend's basement. Their water heater burst and my artwork was destroyed. Gone!

I'll be posting more from my years at UCLA's School of Fine Art. Stay tuned.

You can see more of my art at my website www.sandrasallin.com

UCLA photographs from UCLA: The First Century,  Brent Hellickson, and Don Lewis