Christine Wilkinson

Christine Wilkinson, of Newbury, has been a waitress, a commercial fisherman, a carpenter, and above all an award-winning wildlife artist. Encouraged by her mother, an enthusiastic amateur artist who “stuck a paintbrush or crayon” in her daughter’s hand at every opportunity, Christine drew, sketched, and doodled her way through childhood. After graduating from high school, she opted to attend art school – a choice that drew paternal consternation since an artist’s life was viewed as odd and unpredictable. In the end with her mother’s encouragement, Christine enrolled in Montserrat Art School in Beverly.

After one year at Montserrat, however, she left to pursue commercial fishing full-time. She discovered a new found respect for the ocean and all the creatures that share it. When the weather limited fishing days, she worked at Woodbridge Island, one of the most famous hunting clubs in New England. In time she “earned her place”, gaining an invitation to hunt at the club and winning the admiration of some of the North Shore’s finest water fowlers. She took work aboard a commercial boat, the Deer Lady, operated by Jack Wilkinson, a Newburyport firefighter and part-time commercial fisherman.

Their first voyage was a memorable one indeed. During the first set of the morning, a hydraulic malfunction badly gutted and eventually sank the boat. The intensity of the fire forced Christine and Jack into a life raft and they were eventually rescued by another boat. Their narrow escape proved to be a bonding experience, and shortly thereafter the couple was married. It was Jack, Christine explains, who introduced her to deer hunting and encouraged her wildlife art. Christine’s wildlife art took a distinct turn towards the “rustic,” appearing on antique canoe paddles, raised wooden panels and picture frames.

Her pursuit of the art as a hobby changed five years ago when a gallery owner from Nantucket approached her at a show with an interest in selling her work. Her first show was a sellout, and since then her artwork has been featured in several exclusive galleries including Ducktrap Bay Trading Company. The only time she does not paint is during hunting season, but when that ends, Christine puts the shotgun away and returns to the paintbrush.