While not directly connected to the Atlantintropic Theory, the development of my artistic style has a connection to its core understanding. After High School I had to look forward, should I look at art? Do I have a natural ability or is there some kind unwarranted drive to be creative? Was I just an advanced doodler with big dreams, or had I tapped into something inherently communicative in myself? I had to decide, "was this me?" Was this something I wanted to be? Where would it all lead to? These were questions I needed to ask those around me, because I was to close to the question to tell if talent played a part. Was I assuming I was good at this, when I was little more than the average?

All children are encouraged to "do". All children however can not do the same as others. A kid can love basketball, not grow taller than five foot, and have little if any skill with the ball. Should this kid be encouraged to be an NBA pro? Probably not because he or she wouldn't make it. It would be a waste of valuable time for the development of other skills that were more in line with that child's abilities. Forgoing the criticism, and allowing a child the opportunity to participate in something they may not have an aptitude for, you allow for growth, understanding and social involvement, knowing all well that eventually peers, a coach, parents, or some other mentor will have to step in and say,"You just aint got it kid." The child moves on with a small psychic scar for their trouble and learns a valuable lesson. One of the best pieces of self help philosophy I've ever come across was a simple statement I review every time I try something difficult. "You don't need to practice what your already good at, you need to practice the things that don't come easy."

Now if a kid cant play the piano after two years of instruction, chances are the kid is not a pianist. Visual art is different. You can tell a kid has no jump-shot, but how do you tell if a kid has no artistic talent? Scribbles are scribbles, but some kids scribble better than others, right? How do you KNOW it is a better scribble? Simple, you let community standards decide. That's what I did on the encouragement of a very outspoken family member. His way of stating it was a bit harsh and when he chose to say it made me a little embarrased. We were at a family picnic, I was around seventeen almost eighteen. I was getting the usual ribbing from family members,

"Hay! Mr. Artist, why don't you VanGogh and get me another burger."

That kind of stuff. Then I heard someone say,

"Don't give him any grandiose ideas, he's not an artist yet."

It was my older cousin Don being his usual "plan talk" self.

Don was very cultured, and socially aware, lived in europe for several years, and had a good head on his sholders. I put a lot of stock in what he had to say, and he gave me quite a few good tips on music, art, movies and culture in general. His opinion had always been honest, sometimes gruff, but never waffling. He said what he meant, and meant what he said. Quickly I asked without thinking it could get worse.

"What do you mean.. when will I be an artist then, after I die?" Thinking that was what he was leading to.

"When someone who means something tells you you are."

"Like fucken you?"

"No, like other artists wise ass. Go get yourself an art education, let other artists tell you you're an artist. Until then you're just kid who draws pictures. Go to school learn something about real art, then I'll call you a fucken artist."

That was all I needed! Someone to tell me I needed to practice but I was good enough to make it. If I was going to go to art school I needed to make sure I was in line with my art student peers. I wasn't sure if I would be able to compete on that level. It's one thing in a pool of high school students where you are one of the only people who has any inkling to be a visual artist, it's another thing when hundreds of people are at your skill level or higher. I hunkered down for the next couple of months, worked and practiced my skills, and applied to a couple of Art Schools.

To my surprise I was accepted to more than one school. I had to make a decision on which one, and that decision was not all mine. I had to convince my parents that art was the only direction for me. My dad was the most difficult nut to crack. Being an engineer he had little understanding of fine art as a means of making a living. Commercial art made it easer to float the idea past him. I showed him magazines movies, TV commercials, and news papers. It took a while but he finally got that it was a huge industry. I explained that even his company needs pay someone for advertising. It finally clicked that this was a viable career path, commercial art that is. So as long as I was looking to a commercial art school he was OK with that.

In picking a school I decided to look for the biggest pool of art schools I could find. Even if I was going to a commercial art school I wanted to be sunk into a community of artists, so I would have the best chance to be immersed in a cultural experience. In looking at the schools that accepted me I could have gone to Chicago, San Francisco, New York, Philadelphia, or Fort Lauderdale. The largest concentration of art schools in a per square mile area was the city of brotherly love. I let my parents know this was the place, they agreed and I was Philly bound.

I attended The Art Institute of Philadelphia, focusing on Illustration. I quickly learned that not all artists are created equal. The school separated students by ability as any technical school would. According to the screening process, only the students with an aptitude for Illustration could enter that program. Apparently I had that aptitude, and there was a line drawn in the sand between Illustrators and all other visual artists. The line was clear, and it was similar to what my cousin had described as "people who matter" saying that your an artist. Illustrators are the commercial version of "the artist" as we normally view them. Graphic designers can specialize in a number of duties in the commercial art field but they are not illustrators. Illustrators as I found out don't necessarily need to have formal commercial training, they just need to be good artists. To be a good illustrator you need to have experience with as many mediums and styles as possible. In other words its better for an illustrator to go to fine art school because the training is more intense and covers more mediums, techniques, and genres. I had this all explained to me by one of my instructors at The Art Institute. He explained that the illustration classes at The art Institute were for students that are not yet illustrators, and need basic training for the industry. My work showed a level of quality and detail that would gain little if any benefit from the programs at The Art Institute. His recommendation would change my life forever and allow me to tell my cousin,"I am an artist" because some of the most important people in the art community say so.

When I picked Philadelphia as the cultural center for my education it was because of all the art schools. I didn't know that one of the schools on the list had such a prestigious place in the history of art. I had now been in Philly for a little over a year so I had heard stories about The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. PAFA was the oldest art school in the United States. Artists and artisans had been part of the Academy in one form or another for over two hundred years. It was on par with the greatest art schools in the world for its history, alumni, and curriculum. Prestigious was an understatement. Only those in the know, students on European and Asian exchange programs, hardcore art patrons, and American History buffs, could tell you anything about the place.

History was where it was at even if I was not completely aware of it. The alumni of PAFA were participating in expeditions thorough the world, expeditions based on Biology, Archeology, Geology, and the sciences. Some of the most important paintings and printed materials in the United States were completed by PAFA Alumni. Even our currency printed and forged, was the responsibility of the US Mint based in Philadelphia, and where were the artisans from who designed that currency? Yes, PAFA. At the time it was a school of thought as most art schools are. They called themselves The Columbian Artists Coalition, a group of artists that branched out to form the Hudson River School and many other schools of artistic thought throughout the US and the world. As they grew and spread their philosophy reaching well beyond the boundaries of the States, they established themselves as the foremost American artists, all the time gaining respect as the artisans to hire for historical documentation of scientific and archaeological data. Was that my purpose as an artist? Did the cosmic unconscious bring me here to record time and space as it exists or existed? Was I here doing this before?

Standing on my patio around 2:am, sleepless, my lovely new loft apartment to my back, listening to the sounds of Philly, I was only one week away from my first classes at PAFA, contemplating what my artistic direction was going to be... still wondering if I was doing the right thing. I finished my cigarette, shivered off the night chill and headed to bed. I had gone without TV for over a year in my last apartment, saying to myself, " I need to focus on my work not mindless entertainment." My new pad came with free cable, so I got an old TV from my parents so I could at least watch the Discovery Channel, PBS, and other educational channels. I laid down in my bed clicked the remote, turned on Discovery, and dozed right off.

"Catherine..., at 18 years old was an extraordinary illustrator....."

Huh? Illustrator?

"..... were selected to be part of a team of eight Ukrainian and American artists working with Geologists and Archeologists on the fact finding.... "

"I'm awake... I'm awake...", I fumbled for my glasses.

"..... while recording hieroglyphs left by the Inca empire in order to better understand their pre-Columbian society."

"Hey thats pretty cool", I thought to myself.... "That would be a great job." I listened a bit more attentive.

"...the expedition was assembled after the near accidental discovery of the ruins at Machu Picchu by explorer Hiram Bingham. ........

"Hell this has got to be like the 1920s", I thought.

"...including A sculpture from The Pennyslvania Academy of The fine Arts....."

"NO F'n WAY!"

I sat up straight and was glued to the screen, but little more was mentioned about the artists accept what they were doing and recording. After all the show was about Inca's not artists. There were plenty of photos showing the artists casting plaster sketching and taking pictures. Then there were the drawings of the young Ukrainian artist.... Her style, Pen and Ink, just like the drawings I had seen 2 or 3 years earlier in my high school library books! Jungian philosophy had revealed itself in another grand synchronistic fashion but again. Three weeks earlier I would not even have had a TV. A week later I was going to be in classes where deep in the school archives, they may even have some of the casts I was looking at right now. Young Ukrainian and American artists, and me being of Ukrainian decent. Just that night... a night I could not sleep because I was contemplating where my art would take me.... This was clearly my place. This was my time. This was the education I was destined to pursue. PAFA would lead me down a path of exploration that I never knew I could travel. Was I going to find the connection I was looking for between my past, past art, and the future of my creativity? I was looking forward so very positively now... but I still could not see the whole picture. It would be years before I could call it a theory, and even longer before I could name the concept The Atlantintropic Vision. For now study of craft and emerson in the fine art community were my immediate concern. Time as it would work for the ancients, would also work for me. The sand driven by wind and surf would wear away my artistic view of life allowing it to surface as did the pyramids at Gaza