An incredibly polite and generous woman, my first grade teacher, Ms. Friend, was akin to after school television zen-master, Mr. Rogers. When my parents discovered I could draw, they asked Ms. Friend if I should take art classes to explore and hone my talents. She advised against it, suggesting I might learn to draw the way I was trained rather than draw what I wanted to. She made an interesting argument and I didn't study art until I was accepted into Music & Art High School where I rejected art authority and had a tough time with instruction. And, to this day, I still struggle with the act of drawing. I think you can probably learn how to do both; study art at an early age while being encouraged to experiment, as long as the art teacher doesn't impose their personal philosophy and, instead, allow for latitude...for chaos. Like how Brooklyn artist/teacher, Jen Ferguson, does with her young students at Possum Paint Studio: http://www.artinchaos.com/possum.html
I was born in May of 1967. Here are some of my earliest art works:
My second grade teacher was named Mrs. Fairweather.