Q: When did you decide and what prompted you to become an artist? (Question from artamour)

January 29, 2022
Naval Officer Candidate Barbara Rachko, circa 1983

A: In the mid-1980s I was a thirty-three-year-old Navy lieutenant, working 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 the active duty Navy. 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. 

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