When to choose the more practical profession

I often get asked, what set me on the the path to become an artist?  I imagine people expect to hear a story of natural born talent, with the glowing aura of ‘protege’.  The truth is, I’m one of those odd-balls where I was really crystal clear on what I wanted to do with my life as a teenager.  As I saw it, I only had two options. 
My first choice was to be to be a viticulturist.    That’s 1 part chemistry and 2 parts farmer to make up the profession of growing wine grapes for peak flavor.  Not most kids dreams – or even close to it.  See, I grew up on a dusty farm in the Pacific Northwest, where I learned to drive the family tractor not long after learning to ride a bike.  So, I already knew at 15 that the true hero for that perfect glass of wine, was not the winemaker, it was the fruit grower.  Sadly, this dream came to a crashing halt, when I learned underage drinking (AKA research) wasn’t approved by my parents.  (Bookmarked for my next life)
Ripens On Its Own, © 1994, 78 x 60 inches, Chromogenic Photogram
Ripens On Its Own, © 1994, 78 x 60 inches, Chromogenic Photogram
Next came in my backup plan.  According to my teenage mind, becoming an artist was apparently a more practical profession. If there was any one thing that set in motion to my decision to become an artist, it was seeing my Dad’s relentless commitment to growing the most delicious fruit in his orchards (blueberries and hazelnuts).  The hard work and care in making something that is purely for sensory delight, that small luxury.  In a way, this was his unspoken permission to pursue something significant in my own right.
So it is in my mind, the fruit my dad grew or the art I make today, comes from the same place, a need to make something that feeds our spirit.
Still Sweet, ©1994, 72 x 30 inches, Chromogenic Photogram