Scholarship winner gets degree and produces contemporary saltwater art

Story by Craig Nyhus, Lone Star Outdoor News

Photo by Brittney Drinkard

Photo by Brittney Drinkard

Photo by Brittney Drinkard

Brittney Drinkard grew up fishing with her dad near their Beaumont-area home.

When she was 8 years old, she landed the biggest fish of her young life. At the time, it was a much bigger deal to her parents, since the 7-pound, 4-ounce sheepshead ended up winning the STAR tournament that year, and Brittney won a $50,000 scholarship for the largest sheepshead in the STARKids Division.

Photo by Brittney Drinkard

“I was 8,” Britney said. “I was playing with the shrimp. My dad (David Drinkard) finally convinced me to throw out the rod and I ended up catching the biggest fish I had ever caught.”

When Brittney learned she won the scholarship, she was too young to understand the implications. “When they told me I won the $50,000, I just said I wanted to go to Splashtown,” she said.

A decade later, Brittney enrolled at Lamar University and studied art, and she graduated in December 2015. She had no intention of following in the footsteps of her grandfather, a noted Texas artist, also named David Drinkard.

Brittney Drinkard won a $50,000 scholarship for her 7-pound, 4-ounce sheepshead in the CCA STAR tournament when she was 8 years old. Last December, she graduated from Lamar University with an art degree. At her thesis showing, she stood with her father, David Jr, and grandfather, noted wildlife artist David Drinkard. The showing focused on paintings of saltwater species. Photos from Brittney Drinkard.

Brittney Drinkard won a $50,000 scholarship for her 7-pound, 4-ounce sheepshead in the CCA STAR tournament when she was 8 years old. Last December, she graduated from Lamar University with an art degree. At her thesis showing, she stood with her father, David Jr, and grandfather, noted wildlife artist David Drinkard. The showing focused on paintings of saltwater species. Photos from Brittney Drinkard.

“After the first year, the professors suggested painting,” Brittney said. “I started and caught on really well.”

Her thesis show before graduation consisted of 14 pieces of wildlife art that spanned 14-feet high on the Dishman Art Museum wall, all focusing on saltwater; her portfolio has been completed; and she has sold some of her work.

“I have had some more offers, but I’m afraid to sell everything,” Brittney said. “Some of the older ones I sold, I don’t even have pictures of them anymore.”

Although following her grandfather wasn’t in her plans, she admits he was a big influence on her.

“I would watch him paint,” Brittney said. “But I was so stubborn, I didn’t want to do it. Later, it is where we connected — I did it on my own but it was his passion.”

Her “Goose Pa,” as she calls him, is quite the proud grandfather.

“She was always pretty talented, but not quite as driven like I was,” David Drinkard said. “For me, it was a passion for the outdoors that got me started, then it became an opportunity to make a living as an artist.”

Since his granddaughter won the scholarship, David became involved in helping raise scholarship monies for future STAR winners.

Brittney Drinkard won a $50,000 scholarship through CCA STAR tournament when she was 8 years old. She obtained her art degree and, like her grandfather, David Drinkard, is an accomplished painter. She also loves to fish. Photos from Brittney Drinkard.

Brittney Drinkard won a $50,000 scholarship through CCA STAR tournament when she was 8 years old. She obtained her art degree and, like her grandfather, David Drinkard, is an accomplished painter. She also loves to fish. Photos from Brittney Drinkard.

“We put a project together to supplement the program to maintain the scholarship monies,” David said. “I agreed to do a Platinum Series Print for them each year (the project began in 2011). Last year, they sold 1,300 hundred of them, and this year they have already sold 700 or so. I just signed 300 more a few weeks ago and they’re gone.”

David plans to continue the series.

“I have a personal goal to raise over $1 million for them with the Platinum Print Series,” David said. “I don’t get anything out of it, except someone buys the original. I sign the prints for fun. I’ve made some really good, close friends out of the organization.”

Although both artists love wildlife, their styles are different.

“His stuff is unique — he can paint eyelashes on a deer that’s 200 yards away,” Brittney said. “I’m more expressive and contemporary.”

Brittney, now 24, plans on going to graduate school, and she’ll have to produce and sell more art.

“The $50,000 is gone,” she said. “Studying art is very expensive.”

Her immediate plans?

“We’re planning on going to the jetties tomorrow, but the water is looking terrible,” she said. “And we have a few spearguns, so I want to go offshore.”

You can bet she’ll be signed up for STAR. The summer-long, coast-wide tournament is underway and continues though Labor Day.

Sign up at ccamembership.org.

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