My first visit to the National Gallery was at age five. My Godmother held my hand and walked me through. She was from a small village in the mountains of Sicily. It was important for children to be introduced to the mystery of art. (She favored the Italians.)
I remember the long, limestone halls, the daylight from above, the thick, green plants with huge leaves, the tall columns, the sound of fountains. We came upon a young woman, standing before an easel, making a copy in oil paint from an old master. We stopped to watch her work. After some time passed, she paused and looked down at me with a smile.
"What do you want to be when you grow up?" she asked.
I looked up and replied, "I want to be an artist!"
She carefully wrapped three of her long brushes in a paper towel and put them into my hands. "These will help you on your way," she said.
I used her brushes all through art school.