Till I was about, say 14 years old, I drew little bit with everything that I could lay my hands on. Pencils, color pencils, oil crayons and I had a very big box of water colors I got for my birthday.
But then I thought, if I wanted to be taken serious as an artist, I had to own an easel and a box of oil paint. There was no way that somebody wanted to present me with these essentials because they thought it was not necessary and said it was much too expensive.
So I started working (I was 14 then and I desired to learn the profession of diamond cutting.) I went on an apprenticeship. The stipend was not all that much and anyhow, I had to give it to my grandmother at home.
At work, luckily, I picked up the profession quite quick and after a couple of months I could finish diamonds on my own, without any help from my teacher. I got these diamonds from my teacher to finish. Diamond cutters are not paid by the hour but by the finished stones. The more diamonds he could finish, the more money he got. So to encourage me to work harder, my teacher started paying me half the money he got, as an incentive. This made me work like an idiot. It resulted that I was making more money in a week than my grandfather.
I used to go to the city of Antwerp and I knew of a big shop selling art material, straight over the academy of fine arts. I passed that shop many times before and each time I stood in front of the shop window for more than an hour.
Once I had enough bonus money with me and this particular day, I could go inside this big shop for the materials I needed to become a professional artist. As soon as I went in it felt as if I stepped inside a paradise. So many easels in so many different sizes, thousands of brushes, any color and paint you can imagine, palettes and palette knives in all sizes. I did not know where to put my eyes first.
The only disappointment was, the stuff I liked was beyond my budget. I could manage to buy a portable field easel, two small canvases, a series of brushes, linseed oil, a small palette, a palette knife and a shiny wooden box with 12 tubes of oil paint.
I walked away proudly to the bus, ready to go in the fields to make my first impressionist painting. Going to the fields with my easel on my back and a box in my hand was not so successful for various reasons but that is another story. But the oil painting itself was a complete different experience than whatever mediums I used before. In the beginning I was a bit clumsy and the painting a bit smudgy but I knew this was the medium I wanted to use and from then on I painted so much I could, in oils.