Taking the Leap

(Valley by Alex Drury)

Alex Drury Taking Risks to Pursue Her Creative Passion

Alex Drury, a painter who experiments with mediums but primarily sticks to watercolor, has taken more than one leap of faith to get herself and her art to where it is today. Born and raised in England, Alex began drawing with her brother at a young age, remarking that pencils were the only art supply they could get her hands on.

“I’ve always been into drawing and started that way,” Alex said. “It was a bit of a competition between my older brother and I, and I fell in love with drawing and anything creative.”

Right around the age of ten or so, Alex said that she knew she wanted to be an artist. The English educational system allows many students to specialize in a subject from a young age, and Alex was able to specialize in art; the closest American equivalent would be being able to major in art in high school.

Entering her University years, Alex chose to major in fine art, but found herself too eager to get started on her career, “I stopped my degree after two years,” she said. “I asked myself why I wanted a degree in art when I could just start now and save money.”

With a creative passion driving her, Alex quit her degree two years in, even though she didn’t have a laid-out plan for what to do after. Fortunately, this risk paid off, and Alex was able to start working on commissions soon after.

“I got approached by a family friend for my first illustration commission,” she said. “I got an opportunity the second I stopped my degree, and I’m very grateful for that.”

In her early life as an artist, Alex operated primarily on a word-of-mouth basis. Eventually, a friend of hers was looking to hire a graphic design intern, and Alex took the spot. Treating the internship more like an apprenticeship, Alex got tons of one-on-one practice and instruction that helped her expand on her career as an artist.

As time went on, Alex found herself in a position where things just didn’t seem to be working out for her, and she and her husband got the feeling that they could use a change in scenery. Her husband was raised in the UK but was actually born in Portland, Oregon, and always wanted to come back to the region later in life. The couple decided to take the leap, and moved to Bend about five years ago.

“I had a big shift in my life and things didn’t feel like they were working out for us,” Alex said. “But we figured why not make it an adventure, so we made the move.”

To make the move work, Alex had to pick up a 9-5 job working here in Bend, but quickly found herself wanting to take another leap and try out her art in the local scene.

“My attitude was If I don’t put the time into what I want to do, then I will never do it,” Alex said. ” The 9-5 will always be there if I need it, and I can always go back. “With that safety net in mind, Alex again took a leap and got serious about her art, saying that she was “craving full time creativity.”

Early on in Bend, her creative work was mainly personal projects, attempting to hone in her style and find her voice. A big step came when her friends and family noticed how many paintings she had stashed away, and persuaded her to showcase them.

“My first big step was to get a website up and advertise my work,” Alex said. “Then I heard about First Friday’s here in Bend, which felt like a huge and scary step, but I ended up loving it. It was my first real moment of putting myself and my artwork into the community.”

Much of Alex’s early work involved oil painting, oftentimes the human body as inspiration for portraits and other work. However, her focus on the human body isn’t just an aesthetic or appreciative one.

“I was craving a way to process the things I was going through,” Alex said. “I would have these cathartic painting sessions, I would get all my paints out and just start to splash out my feelings and see where it took me.”

Alex took another step, experimenting with ripping and tearing her work apart, only to piece it back together as something beautiful. “That’s a big part of the process now,” she said. “I would do a painting, rip it up and piece it back together into something new.”

Alex said that these unique processes are connected to her health issues, which leave her with chronic pain. “The act of making something, almost finished, and then on the surface destroying it, was a way for me to go through that feeling of brokenness,” she said. “Destroying the painting in one of the steps felt cathartic. After it’s been torn and broken, it adds so much more depth to the painting. More depth, new layers, more meaning… it makes something new, whole and better, and mirrors how I have felt.”

While still focusing on powerful personal projects on the human body, much of her modern work that is now for sale has shifted to watercolor landscapes and mountain vistas. “I even told myself I wouldn’t do mountains and vistas, but it’s tough to not get inspired by where we live,” Alex said.

These modern works are stark with contrast, and definitely draw attention with torn lines, abstract elements and a touch of familiarity, courtesy of the landscapes that she captures.

Looking ahead, Alex hopes to continue her creative work related to health and the human body, hoping to get back into oil painting and do a series of paintings on this subject, visually representing what she and many other individuals go through.

For samples of her work and prints available for purchase, check out her website.


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