Audrey DeFord | Painter


Bio: Audrey is Texan by birth, an idealist by nature, a keeper of crazy dreams, and lover of many things. She currently lives in McKinney, Texas, with her musician husband. She is a painter specializing in oil and watercolor. You can find her work in private collections across the United States and parts of Europe and Australia. On any given day, you can find her working from her apartment alongside her tenacious French bulldog or instructing a class at the local art studio. Audrey's love of traveling and adventure has allowed her a year spent living in Vienna, Austria. Recent trips to Italy and Sudan have stirred up inspiration and fresh passion for discovering new cultures and people groups. These experiences along with vibrant colors, delight in Jesus as Christ, and love for people largely influence Audrey's body of work. 

Hometown: Rowlett, Texas

Age: 25

Favorite Dallas hangout: Chuys (fried avocados anyone?)

AHD: Who first put paintbrush and oils in your hands, and how did your life change as a result?

AD: It was springtime during my freshman year of high school when my art teacher, Mrs. Tina Nivens, first introduced me to oil paint.  I had previously experimented with acrylic and tempera on a few middle school level paintings, but I never found my niche. Oil was a dream! I immediately fell in love with the rich medium and all its possibilities. It’s been eleven years since that first painting, and I haven’t looked back!


AHD: How did formal instruction in Denton help you to develop as a painter?

AD: I was a part of two different programs in Denton-- drawing/painting and watercolor painting. Because UNT is one of the few schools in the country that offers an entire degree program in watercolor, I decided to take advantage of their expertise. The formal training I received from the university staff was challenging but it allowed for my skills to be developed, critiqued, and pushed into areas I may not have pursued on my own. They forced me to ask myself tough questions about the “why” behind my art. Knowing why you do what you do is as important as doing it. Professors and grades aside, the classroom critique was priceless. Seeing and critiquing my work on the wall alongside other developing artists, thickened my skin and gave fresh inspiration and admiration of a wide array of art. Variety is the spice of life—and of the art world.

AHD: You have had the opportunity to travel and live abroad, and it's clear those experiences have shaped your work. What is the single greatest change your travels have afforded you? 

AD: Perspective. To see rightly is a divine gift. I spent a year living and traveling all over Europe and most recently, I spent a short amount of time in Sudan. Moving outside my culture, language, and family afforded me the opportunity to see myself, my God, and my world outside the cloudy lens of the familiar. America is the exception, not the rule. The conveniences built into our American lifestyles are wonderful, but they can also bolster us up with a false sense of “this life and world must really be about me.” Traveling shattered those innate pretenses and opened my eyes to the rich diversity of people and places previously unknown to me. 


AHD: Eight-year-old Audrey had an unpleasant experience with an art festival. As you prepare to show new work at this month's Walk The Light Arts Festival, how will this time around be different?

AD: Eight-year-old Audrey had a very narrow view of what “acceptable art” was—namely, well-rendered horse pencil drawings and colorful paper collages. She was good at neither of those, and it stressed her out. Now, preparing new work as a twenty-five year old, I am excited to see the variety of beauty at Walk the Light, knowing that it will all easily fit under the label “acceptable art” with room to spare. 

AHD: You've painted larger than life performance pieces, and intimate illustrations folks can send to a friend. It's clear you're not afraid to try new things. What's the latest challenge you've set for yourself, and what have you learned as a result?

AD: I have been a busy bee setting up and stocking my watercolor shop with new inventory this past year. Learning to be a small business owner has been the largest challenge of the past several years.  Customer service protocol and business policy updates were not in my degree plan! While I have definitely operated on a learning curve, sometimes the best way to learn is to jump in headfirst and not look back. In 2013, I am focusing on a new series of large-scale works in oil. I would love to further pursue my career and put my work in local and global shows and galleries.

AHD: Where do you go in Dallas to check out other painterly/paper goods works? Have you found a community of like-minded creatives who've helped you to grow and continue working for the common good?

AD: Saturday night art openings in Deep Ellum and the Bishop Arts district are a great place to check out new painterly works for inspiration. My husband, Sam, is a gifted singer/songwriter with a voice that makes your ears thrill. Sharing a home with him has given me a creative community right under my roof and proved a huge catalyst in my artistic growth. If I’m being honest, beyond Sam, I have struggled to find community with like-minded creatives. It’s not because the Dallas community isn’t out there (as I’m seeing in AHD and events like Walk the Light) but rather because of time constraints within my own schedule. As my schedule opens up this year, I would love to further pursue a relationship with other creatives who are pursuing growth in art for the common good. 

AHD: In your statement you say simply that you paint what you know, and who you know is Christ. How does your relationship with Christ show up in your work?

AD: Christ is big. He’s so big that He doesn’t fit into my Sunday morning experience or religious meetings. This means His bigness and vastness and goodness spills over and takes up every area of my life—including art. For this I am grateful. As an artist, it is easy to quickly become obsessed with wanting to make a name for yourself. We see this all over our culture. Through a relationship with Christ, I am finding the only name worth making much of is His. Hopefully, through art, I can respond appropriately to His great worth and deflect any renown I may receive through the years to Him. He has been generous in giving me talent. I am grateful.

AHD: Where can we go to learn more about your art and mission, and buy or commission a work?

AD: My Etsy watercolor shop would be a great place to start! There you will find a variety of things from bright, splashy watercolor maps to intricately designed woodland animal prints. Occasionally I write about life, faith, and art at my blog. If that’s not enough for you, meander over to my little website to check out more work in oil and watercolor!