I had 'Attention Deficit / Hyperactive Disorder', and still have it to a degree. Back then they didn't have a name or a kick-back drug for it, so they just called me 'unruly' and 'stupid' because I was unable to keep my mind on task (and little girls aren't supposed to be unruly, you see). My rampant imagination was a wild horse and I was super-glued to its back, with no choice but to go where ever it wanted to take me.
Later, as I grew, I developed some self-discipline and learned to focus and concentrate on the tasks at hand.
During high school I attended a vocational school that was being offered, after having enthusiastically quit the typing and home-ec classes that my parents rather loudly insisted that I take, since I had neither desire nor aptitude to be clerical or domestic. At this school I studied photography, black and white darkroom work, and advertising layout and composition.
Research have always been among my greater passions. History, mythology and folklore of various cultures have all now become inextricably and fully integrated parts of my personal 'data base'. The fantastic and the surreal hold strong sway over nearly everything I do, whether it's prose, fine art, or mask and costume design.
So by now my imagination is a powerful muscle that I exercise and wield at my will. And though I have endured no formal art training, I dislike the term 'self-taught' -- how can you 'teach' yourself what you don't know?
I obsess over the conversations between colors, and I trip out over textures, contours and the powers of negative-versus-positive space.
I study art on my own and continue to loiter in museums to analyze palettes and brush strokes, and I get "harumphed" at by museum guards who think that maybe three inches between my nose and the painting behind the stanchions is a little too close.
( did you know that "harumph" in Danish sounds just like "harumph" in English?! )
Now, about all those masks, . . .
A few years ago my sis-in-law gave me a lovely little wall-mask made of leather, and I was instantly hooked. I didn't know any mask makers, and at the time I couldn't find any books on the subject, so my only recourse was to just buy some leather and start experimenting with it.
I gradually discovered what would and would not work and proceeded from there, only to learn many years later that what I was doing was exactly what the mask makers in Italy had been doing for centuries.
Sometimes the old ways are the best, even if you don't know they're the old ways.