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    Picture this.  It's 7PM on a rainy Monday night in December. A group of adults of varying ages gather for an evening life drawing class at a Y on the East Side of Manhattan. They leave their umbrellas and raincoats and brief cases on the side of the room and take out drawing pads from the cabinet -- get their conte and charcoal ready. Why are they here?

I did art as a kid and in high school, but then didn't for years and years. This was a turning point and I decided to do things that please me. After having breast cancer and going through treatment I wanted to do things that I enjoy.

I went into the fashion industry but didn't do art per se, though I was involved in design and decorating.

This drawing isn't goal oriented. It's food for the soul.

I never got encouragement as kid -- my mother buys art at the mall. But my grandfather did teach me to draw, little rabbits and such. My father could draw and even wanted to be an artist or architect, but changed his plans because of the depression. He didn't encourage me.

Nowadays there's no value placed on art. The emphasis is on making money.

(Interviewer's note -- H. has three grown children whom she encouraged to draw and paint but weren't especially interested. One is a lawyer, one a computer wiz and the third in the restaurant business. Maybe some day they'll show up in a drawing class at the Y.)

I used to do a little art in school. At home I used to copy cartoons. Other than that I haven't done any art.

I had free time and decided to give it a try. This is my second class. All I've taken is drawing.

I wasn't encouraged to do art at home. But it's something I have a feeling for. I appreciate nice pictures. I'm glad to be doing this, but am somewhat of a perfectionist. Need to decide what class to take next.

(Interviewer's note -- L.'s work is highly individualistic and not very realistic. He brings a real sense of his own vision to his work. It will be interesting to see what he does next.)

As a child I used to draw. My sister would bring back pictures and I'd copy them. In classes we drew animals. I wanted to take fine arts in college but my parents wanted me to study something more practical.

I came back to this when I told my husband I'd been interested in art and my husband gave me a paint set. I copied a picture by Monet and did it very accurately. He encouraged me to take art classes.

(Interviewer's note -- Following her parents' guidance to do something "practical," E. became a nurse. However, she later went to dental school and for the past 6 years has been a practicing dentist, specializing in working with disadvantaged and disabled children. The dexterity and coordination she brings to her drawings also serves her well in dentistry. We know of other dentists who are also artists.)

(The teacher -- an accomplished landscape artist and dedicated teacher)

I was brought up with art. My mother and uncle, her brother, were both artists so that's what I always wanted to be. It felt very natural.

(Interviewer's note -- P.'s mother was a fashion artist in the days when newspapers ran drawings rather than photos. His uncle drew cartoons of cowboys in Arizona. P. was particularly inspired by his uncle's cartooning, especially his ability to make up characters on the spot.)

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