When I was a kid, my family and I lived in a remote, unincorporated area about 20 miles west of Chicago. My dad was an electrical engineer for the Electromotive division of General Motors in LaGrange, Illinois, at a time when working for one employer your whole career was the norm. He loved his job, but always had a side interest in drawing and illustration. As a young man in the army, he drew some cartoons for his outfit's newsletter and occasionally would do drawings for coworkers at GM and the scouting troops that my brothers and I belonged to.
Sometime when I was grade school age, he signed up for the Famous Artists School book series and correspondence course. I remember him working on some of the lessons in the evening's and on weekends. He would do the assignments and send them off to be graded and critiqued by professional illustrators, who would return the work with hand-written notations in the margin. Even now the unique smell and texture of the grey kneaded erasers reminds me of that time. Other tools of the trade from that time included plastic trays for mixing various hues and shades of gouache, and bottles of India ink, which inspired this website's name.
My dad just turned 83 last month, and like many his age, he's experiencing some challenging health issues. Thankfully my mother is still in good health and takes good care of him. He didn't fully complete the Famous Artists School courses, and never became a famous artist himself, but he inspired me to pursue my own career in the field, for which I'll always be grateful.