DEAR ABBY: The letter from "High on Talent/Low on Self-Esteem" touched my heart. My son also knew at an early age that he wanted to be an artist. He is now at one of the most prestigious art schools in New York City.
My advice to "High/Low" is to request support and advice from his school counselors and art teachers. There are weekend and summer studios at museums and colleges for students of all ages. It's important to keep his grades up. Scholarships are available for good students with talent. The teen should draw, draw, draw -- keep his sketchbooks and start a portfolio. Observational drawing is a must. He should familiarize himself not only with pencil and pen, but also with charcoal and pastels.
Above all, that young man should not give up. True artists draw not because they can, but because they must. There are many career options in the field. Artschools.com is a good Web site for information. -- MOTHER OF AN ARTIST, MERRIMACK, N.H.
DEAR M.O.A.: Whistler's mother had nothing on you. Bless you for wanting to help.
That letter brought an enormous response from readers. Read on for a sample:
DEAR ABBY: I am a 16-year-old artist, and I want to tell "High on Talent" and his parents to follow his dream. Animation is a respectable career. It can pay very well, besides being fun.
Some tips I got from a Disney animator who visited our school:
Carry a sketchbook everywhere, and use it. Copy the great masters or any artist you admire. Museums are great for this purpose. Practice design and composition. All artists are designers. Photography is a good way to practice composition. Observe differences in how people and animals move -- no two are alike. Animate a bouncing ball. Every principle of animation can be found in this exercise. Watch TV with the sound muted. You will see how animation is mostly about timing.
Most important: As artists we constantly need visual "food" to sustain us. Consume as much high-quality "art food" as you can and keep drawing! Who knows? Maybe you and I will be famous artists one day! -- SUZY IN COLORADO
DEAR SUZY: How nice of you to share those tips from a professional!
DEAR ABBY: While one should not push a child into college to become an artist, neither should one close the door on a child who might turn out to be the next Picasso (who lived the life of a millionaire and was famous for much of his lifetime). It was the highly visible Vincent Van Gogh who got us all thinking that artists live in poverty and die in obscurity. -- MR. V., ART TEACHER, NEW JERSEY
DEAR MR. V.: Now that's an art lesson in a nutshell.
DEAR ABBY: There are lots of jobs for animators. Technical colleges and universities offer programs for this high-demand field every year -- and have problems staffing them. The popularity of movies such as "Monsters Inc." and "Ice Age" have created a demand for computer artists, and so has the video game industry. How do I know? I'm an instructor at a community college in the Northwest, and we can't find enough teachers for our program in art animation. -- MICHELE S. IN SEATTLE
DEAR MICHELE: Thank you, and all of those who wrote to encourage that young man and reassure his parents.