How did you get started and then develop your career?
Christine Graefe Drewyer – AWAM|WAOWM|NOAPS|WSLP: I began my career as the co-owner of a gallery in Annapolis, Maryland in the early 80s. This was an education which I more than likely could never have earned in any art institution. Having to be totally immersed in the world of art, complete with installation, framing, sales, development of patron repour and the competitive component of art production and monthly presentations of shows! Whew, it still makes my head whirl to recall that grueling schedule and exciting time in my life. I still fall back on that critical stage of training and learning to this day.
Being a full-time artist as well as trying to maintain the demands of owning and running a Fine Art gallery that represented regional and international artists, surely did let me know quickly, that I could only serve one master. After serving in that capacity for 15 years, I chose to leave the gallery as an owner and focus on painting full time. The other significant change that I made at this time was to join National Art Organizations, to see where I measured up on the national art circuit. It was a humbling and rewarding endeavor. Those organizations included Women Artists of the West, National Oil and Acrylics Painters Society, American Woman Artists, and the Washington Society of Landscape Painters.
My personality has always supported the ability to get involved and be a participant. That began with participating in the organization of shows and joining the various committees to eventually being a Board Member and Advertising Chair of three of those organizations and eventually the President of two of them. I still maintain membership in each of these National Art organizations today and am the current President of American Women Artists.
How do you describe success?
Being mostly a self-taught artist, it is interesting to evaluate how I measure success. It typically appears that an artist achieves that level of recognition in an over-night success, with instant name recognition. My true understanding of that is; more accurately, it requires a long and winding road with plenty of stops and starts and a gigantic dose of tenacity thrown in! Make no mistake, if that ingredient of tenacity and work ethic is missing, an artist won’t have a prayer at the rest. Fortunately for me, I also subscribe to the adage of, “If you love what you do, work will never be a four-letter word” and make no mistake, I do.
Naturally, sales and collectors must figure into that success story too, and I have been fortunate to have reaped many rewards in that department. Getting accepted or invited into these National Competitions (and they are fierce) and getting editorial or show and exhibition opportunities are certainly significant factors on the success component as well. Winning awards is a gigantic factor in helping to measure your accomplishments and receiving awards of achievement is a fabulous benchmark of success.
Finding causes which you believe in, and organizations and artists who share your lofty beliefs and aspirations, only makes the journey of your own path all the richer. I have found, at the end of the day, being of service and giving back and enjoying the experience is the true measure of what success looks and feels like. It is a humbling experience to look back and just stop for a minute and see just how much I was able to accomplish by just staying the course. I wouldn’t change a moment of it.
To see more of Christine’s work, visit: www.christinedrewyer.com
I would greatly enjoy a class on making frames. There is an art to making frames–I know it. I probably can’t afford instructions from a master but, I would like to “scratch the surface” and consider how far off the mark I really am.
My favorite painting is hummingbirds because they lend themselves to variation–what if I try this. But, birds in general are fascinating to me and I greatly enjoy trying to paint a replica of some of them. Some day, some far off day, I am going to try painting something with oils. For now I use acrylics and privately enjoy what I create.
Maybe 30 years ago I saw a painting in a shop on Wisconsin Avenue in Washington, D.C. titled “The Blacksmith.” I wanted to buy it and the price was around $500. A few weeks later it sold and many months later it was reportedly repurchased by the artist for around $3,000. My first lesson in how little I knew about art!