Q: What is your earliest memory of wanting to be an artist? (Question from “Arts Illustrated”).

May 22, 2021
A charcoal self-portrait circa 1988 when I was a Navy Lieutenant

A: I don’t believe I have any such ‘early memories.’ I came to art late and my journey to becoming an artist was circuitous, to say the least.

In the mid-1980s I was a thirty-something Navy lieutenant. I worked a soul-crushing job as a computer analyst on the midnight shift in a Pentagon basement. We were open 24/7 and supported the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Remembering the joyful Saturdays of my youth in New Jersey, when I had studied with a local painter, I enrolled in a drawing class at the Art League School in Alexandria, Virginia.  I loved it! I took more classes and became a highly motivated, full-time art student who worked nights at the Pentagon. After two years and as my skills improved, I discovered my preferred medium – soft pastel on sandpaper.  

I knew I had found my calling, submitted my resignation, and left active duty. On October 1, 1989 I became a professional artist. However, I remained in the Navy Reserve for another fourteen years, working at the Pentagon one weekend a month. On November 1, 2003, I retired as a Navy Commander. 

Please also see Art Market (barbararachko.art)

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