New artist Lori Drew describes her journey into the artistic realm as a story of encouragement and an example of what can be achieved when a unique art community embraces a determined artist.



Drew's introduction to the world of art began at age 6. She dabbled in it as a hobby through more than one career move until six short months ago when she embraced it full time.



Drew has worked as a photojournalist, which she learned while serving in the U.S. Navy. She has also worked as a full-time mom, as a portrait photographer, as a graphic designer, and in marketing/public relations.



When she moved here 12 years ago from Indiana, the New Jersey native found that everyone looking for photography work wanted the same type: family shots on the beach. But Drew wanted to do more.



Now she feels she has found her niche as an artist.



"I always had creativity," she said. "I knew I couldn't make it working in a store, but it was a big step to try to make it in an area where there are so many artists."



The artist says the beauty of nature inspires her, and especially here. But instead of going for stark realism, she tries to convey her feelings for what she is seeing through her work, leaving a degree of abstractness.



"So, different people will see different things in each piece," she said.



Drew paints using acrylics from her Point Washington home studio. She points out that she is still in her "infancy stage" as an artist and she will grow into feeling comfortable using other mediums. But for now, acrylics is where she feels most comfortable.



"They're flexible," she explains.



Whether she is capturing the beauty of South Walton or something else, her hybrid style combines a touch of the abstract with a splash of impressionism. Drew describes the result as “soft, thoughtful glimpses into the heart of nature.”



Her work was most recently featured in the Cultural Art Alliance’s A+ Top of the Class exhibit and Hidden Lantern’s Back to Nature show, where Drew’s “Trees of Cape San Blas” was awarded an honorable mention.



During the month of January, Drew is the featured artist at Coastal Branch Library, which is her first one-woman show. The public is invited to visit and view work at the library during its normal business hours.



Drew plans to keep growing and in five years, she sees herself being in the position of an encourager instead of an encouragee.



"All it took to take the leap was a little encouragement for me," said Drew.



She received the encouragement she needed to "just do it" from like-minded artistic individuals in the surrounding communities.



"It really helped for someone like me who was unsure of herself," she said.



She was told time and again to "put yourself out there." So she did.



Contact her via email at lori8358@yahoo.com, her website Clayroadstudio.com or call 585-7689.