i paint i write

Live boldly, laugh and make art

What if Andy Warhol had spent his life trying to improve his D in Trigonometry and never made art?

Andy Warhol got a D in Trigonometry when he graduated from Schenley High School, in Pittsburg Pennsylvania, on June 18th, 1945.

He got an AAAA in Art. D is passing. An A is outstanding. Andy got four A’s. He was outstanding, outstanding, outstanding, outstanding.


What if Andy Warhol had spent his life trying to improve his D in Trigonometry and never made art? What if he focused on what he wasn’t good at, and ignored what he was good at? Art?

No, wait. Not just good. He was outstanding, outstanding, outstanding, outstanding.

Andy Warhol’s high school grades are on page eleven in the introduction to Andy Warhol, “Giant” Size, by Phaidon. His grades are right below his high school yearbook photograph — Andrew Warhola,  “Andy” Home room Sec 205. As genuine as a fingerprint.

Do you take your natural skills for granted?

It is so easy to take for granted our natural abilities. What comes naturally we don’t value. Life has to be hard. A struggle. So we go to college to improve our D in Trigonometry.

Andy didn’t go to college to improve his D in Trigonometry. He studied Art. He followed his passion. After high school Andy studied Commercial Art at the Carnegie Institute of Technology. When he graduated he moved to New York City and began his carreer as an artist, working as an illustrator, and creating original art.


Page ten and eleven in “Andy Warhol — Giant Size” by Phaidon

Embrace your natural abilities

Seeing Andy Warhols high school transcript helped me see the value in working on what we are good at. Or outstanding at. I don’t value my drawing. I just know I love to draw and I hate math. Well, maybe not hate. But I have always felt that my art wasn’t valuable because it wasn’t a struggle for me to create.

I don’t know if my art is outstanding, outstanding, outstanding, outstanding. Or even if it is outstanding. Or even if it is good. Or even if my art makes you want to barf. Or even if you think, “Oh dear. Her cow looks like a sick puppy.”

It doesn't matter what anyone thinks about what we create. It is none of their business. Click To Tweet

Embrace your brain. Focus on your strengths and make them better. Forget about the D in Trigonometry. Focus on your strengths and make them better. ( I know I said the same sentence twice.) Let me say it one more time. Focus on your strengths and make them better.

Often I don’t value my desire to draw. I don’t value my natural joy in drawing and painting. I think I got a C in Trigonometry in high school. Not a D, but I have always felt bad about my lack of ability to do math well.

 If you absolutely love math, then study math, improve your grade.  I don’t understand the math brain. Or why anyone would like to add numbers together when they could be mixing colors. But, then, you shouldn’t care what I think. Love who you are. And become more of you. 

“Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.”
― Andy Warhol

Value who you are. Value your desires. And, you do have strengths. You might just not know what they are. 


“Andy Warhol — Giant Size” by Phaidon, on the table in my art studio.

What are your strengths?

Do you know what your strengths are? Even Harry Potter thought he didn’t have any strengths.

“Play to your strengths.”

“I haven’t got any,” said Harry, before he could stop himself.

“Excuse me,” growled Moody, “you’ve got strengths if I say you’ve got them. Think now. What are you best at?”
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

And, as Moody asked Harry Potter, “What are you best at?” I ask you, “What are you best at?”

Find out what you are best at, and then get better at it. Or find out where your heart is, and then keep following your heart. Forget the D and play to your strength. The part of you that is you. ( If you are not sure, ask a friend. Ask Moody.)

May you live your life as genuine as a fingerprint. There is only one you. Be you. Click To Tweet

And, back to the guestion. What if Andy Warhol had spent his life trying to improve his D in Trigonometry and never made art?

What do you think? Please let me know in the comments. I would love to talk with you. 

About Pamela Hodges

I write slice of life stories to help you know you are loved, valuable and worthy just as you are. I am a writer, an artist, and a cleaner of seven litter boxes. I live in Pennsylvania with one husband, four cats, one dog and two birds.

You are an artist. Yes, you are. Really.

Feature Box

Get the FREE illustrated, sort of a comic book, “You Are An Artist.” Believe in yourself and your ability to draw. xo Pamela

  • La McCoy

    Yes I do and i am working on it!

  • Shirley

    I am the one who went to school to try to improve on my D. I always got A in my art classes, and I never had the courage to study it further because of an image of a starving artist planted in my mind by all the people around me. Now I want to be me and that makes me happy. Thank you for the encouragement to improve what I am good at and not care about what everybody else thinks.

    • Hello Shirley,
      Yes, the image of a starving artist. How many dreams were steered off course because other people didn’t understand.
      I was going to say, “How many dreams were shattered?” But that sounded so final. And dreams don’t have to die, you can be you, and your dream can live.
      Yes, Shirley, be you. Yes. Yes. Yes.

  • I remember in 7th grade, we had an assignment to do a sketch. The background was India ink and we scratched our subject out with a pen nib. My girlfriend couldn’t draw well, so I drew her picture for her. She got a very good grade. I drew something else and got a lesser grade. I enjoy helping others, but I don’t always do their work for them. I love to paint. I failed Algebra.

    • Hello Shelley,
      Sigh, please forgive me for not talking to you for thirteen days. I always love to hear from you, and I love it when you comment on my stories. You always add something valuable to the conversation.
      You were so kind to help your friend. And how funny your drawing for her got a better grade. it just seems sad that the grade was so important, she didn’t feel safe to draw how she could draw. She didn’t let what was inside of her out, for fear of disapproval.
      And phooey on Algebra. Yeah on painting. Your paintings are full of life and spirt and love.

  • Berdeane Bodley

    Pamela, I am very good at cleaning, I LOVE to clean, I am always cleaning, I go to bed at night thinking of what I am going to get done in the morning & I set a goal for myself every day & do it. Strange, because no matter how much one cleans every day we have to do it over & over again, what better way for me to improve……….I love you a million times X 5 million, & more even, you’re the best there is!

    • Hello Mother,
      Well, it appears I forgot to answer the people who commented on this story. And I can’t even say it was because I was cleaning.
      Mom, you do a great job with cleaning. But, you are even better at something else. You know how to be a good friend, and you are great at being a mom.
      I love you more.

      • Berdeane Bodley


  • Krithika Rangarajan

    I am going to say this: it’s a good thing I didn’t waste my life working on my C—- (ha) in Probability 😛

    LOVEEE YOU – and LOVE your words – and LOVE your art – and LOVEE YOU!

    Yes, I said “LOVE YOU” twice too…

    ..oh wait, that was No. 3

    Here is No.4


    • Martha Hodges

      Hello Krithika, or Kitto,
      Please call me Martha, or Martha for short.
      Pamela will be so happy to get your kind note full of love. Four loves is a lot of love.
      May I give you four hugs? If you come and visit I will let you take me for a walk. And you don’t even have to pick up after me. I know Pamela won’t make you clean the seven litter boxes either.
      I will tell Pamela you wrote when she gets back from the store.
      Love Martha

  • I don’t take my strengths for granted. Even at an early age I knew I had a talent for art. But it has been a struggle to protect it from those pushing other disciplines. Thanks for a thoughtful post, Pamela!

    • Martha Hodges

      Hello John,
      Mrs. Hodges went to the store to buy cat food. So I am answering her mail for her.
      That is such good news you don’t take your strengths for granted. Confidence in humans is wonderful. I have seen your paintings. They are peaceful and full of color and light. They make me want to go to the places you paint and go for a walk there.
      Be careful of the other disciplines. I hope you never stop painting. But, John, always remember to walk your dogs every day.
      I will tell Pamela you thought her post was thoughtful. (I hope she bought dog food too.)
      Love Martha