Despite some initial success (meaningless ribbons and certificates) in my earliest years, I believe I officially gave up as a visual artist in 8th grade.
On the one hand, maybe I just couldn't handle not receiving constant praise on my presumably unimpressive artwork from my art teacher for the first time. On the other hand, I think he was a dick who stifled my expression.
I was excited about our landscape assignment because it was the first time I ever painted on an honest-to-gosh canvas. Something about painting on a canvas makes the process seem so much more official than doing it on paper.
While my peers took a traditional approach to the assignment, I chose to paint an island seen through a cruise ship porthole. More than half of the canvas was devoted to the interior of the cruise ship and the landscape aspect of it was kind of incidental in the background.
I thought it was a modern approach to landscapes and showed how removed we are from nature. Most people really do only experience a sight like that through glass on a boat, and I wanted to acknowledge that fact in my painting. Whether I was able to articulate that idea better or worse in 8th grade, I don't remember.
My teacher graded it poorly and called it a cop out. Okay, maybe part of the reason was because it was easier than painting an actual landscape. But all that other stuff I just said? That was a part too - a bigger part. This teacher had one idea of what a landscape could be and stomped on my creativity.
He also didn't like my mixed media collage that incorporate the lyrics to The Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony". (Looking back, maybe I was anti-capitalist before I even knew what that meant.) What a fucking buzz kill. Then again, I suppose the true mark of a great artist is not being appreciated in your own time.
I'm not sure where the porthole painting is anymore, but I wouldn't be surprised to learn it somehow made its way to an art museum because that shit is genius.