then I enrolled at the Art Students League of New York in 2004, moving away from a career in social services to consider a more creative path. Around this time, I was introduced to Russian realist painting—how I was moved by the color and feeling! The accuracy, expression, color, and composition I was drawn to were the result of years of academic training. By 2010, I had completed three years of study at classical painting ateliers. This was my entry to life as an artist.