Christine Weir and I meet at stARTup Art Fair at a retro 1950s hotel in San Francisco. Her room is filled with the most intricate graphite drawings I have ever seen and she is super friendly. We get to talking and it turns out that she has a little boy. I decide to follow-up and interview her for the blog. I call her and it turns out that she lives in L.A. and her little boy is not so little, 12 in fact. This is exciting for me because Christine has already been through those early days building her family and her creative career. I soon learn she has an absolute wealth of knowledge on the subject.
Years ago, Christine had an innate fear of flying and largely stayed away from airplanes. One day her father-in-law fell ill and she had to fly east in the middle of the night with her 3 month old baby. This emotional experience led her to look out of the window of the aircraft when she otherwise wouldn’t have. She was looking at the lights thinking of what was happening in her life and other people’s lives below. She started thinking about how to capture those emotions. The seed was planted for her first series of drawings for which she used Google Earth to observe features in the landscape that reflect certain emotions. I find it fascinating that a single event fired up her artistic practice. I also can’t help but wonder whether the emotional rollercoaster that is postpartum had something to do with that wonderful burst of creative energy.
Many years before that flight, Christine had earned a Drawing Degree and a Masters in Art History in addition to working at a major auction house. As someone who had grown up in a very small town in Pennsylvania, she welcomed the opportunity to see art face-to-face and to delve into technique. Graduate School in New York and more specifically, her time working in the Auction Business expanded her understanding of different kinds of art. Of this time handling thousands of pieces of work, Christine says; “Those years of working with art really helped me be who I am today, figuring out who I was, what was good and what wasn’t.”
But interestingly, during that time in her career the actual creation of work paused. It was six months after her son was born that she started to feel creative again and that she had something to say. It seems to me a pattern is emerging as I am interviewing creative moms whereby life and more specifically motherhood, inspires art.
There’s something about Christine that I wish I could have more of and I think it has something to do with her energy and focus. In the second year of raising my little girl full-time, I find the accumulated lack of sleep and high output of her energy quite exhausting. Sometimes ‘Netflix and Chill’ in the evening becomes the way of my present tense. But when I speak to Christine, her early career and family days were spent filling nap time and evenings with drawings.
How does she achieve this and still have the energy to work as a mom full-time? “I sit down and I just start. When I’m struggling I just make myself draw”. Says Christine. When one idea ends and no other idea presents itself, she draws. When there is no studio to draw in, she sits in the lounge room while her husband is reading and she draws. She puts the time in and makes the most of the space in between.
From the age of two and a half, her son went to preschool and the chance to have three solid hours, three times a week opened up. Now that he’s at school and the family is in a carpool, five-hour days are the norm. It’s a commitment and it’s about being really economical when time is available. She also comments that real life and everything else kind of needs to fall to the side in order to put that time in.
Along with this persistence, Christine seems to have a healthy sense of self-esteem, she doesn't take rejection to heart and that allows her to keep at it;“Working in the auction business and seeing the volumes of work, I don't take rejection personally; I like the work that I’m doing.” If you’re not going to say that about your own work, who is?
What’s also valuable to hear is her experience. It was humbling to pick up some new ideas on setting realistic Fine Art career goals. For example in the early days, Christine built her CV by applying for Juried Shows. She got her work out there by looking online at show listings and balancing her work output with the number of shows she was involved with. Her networks grew and then group shows and a solo show became possible. Now she’s looking to the mid-level L.A. gallery scene. This is over a period of 12 years of course, which really puts things into perspective. A Fine Art or creative career is not necessarily about the overnight successes presented in the media and it’s really good to see an alternate, more tangible and realistic example of someone’s practice.
As for the work, it’s growing. Bigger. The most recent drawings look at chaos, fluid dynamics, time and space, taking upwards of six months to produce due to their scale and intricacy. Christine feels successful because, in her words; “I get to do the work and I like the work, I’m happy doing what I love on a day to day basis. A lot of the shows that come about for me are from people calling up and inviting me to show. For me I’ve succeeded because people think of my work.”
I, for one, will be one of the people who remember her work and her generosity sharing these insights.
Visit Christine’s website at: www.christineweir.com and instagram: @christineweirart
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Images courtesy of Christine Weir.