Biography

Mr. Dreyer became a signature member of the Artists For Conservation Foundation in 2010 and has had his work selected for the annual AFC International Exhibit of Nature in Art consistently since his inclusion. His work has been juried into the live exhibit the last six years in a row. 

His oil on canvas “Barn Owl in the Old Barn” was recently acquired by the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson, Arizona to become part of their permanent collection of wildlife art.  His work is also part of the permanent collection of the St. Louis University Museum of Art, recently ranked No. 4 among the top college museums in the nation.  Mr. Dreyer is regularly commissioned by the St. Louis Zoo for their semi-annual Zoofari fundraiser to create a wildlife portrait of that year's featured animal. The portrait is used as the cornerstone of their marketing and fundraising appeal.

He works out of his studio in his hometown of Webster Groves, Missouri and spends time when he can at his extended family's cabin bordering the western edge of Rocky Mountain National Park, near Grand Lake, Colorado. 

For those interested in my background:

I could give you a biography or I could tell you "my story." I always find a person's story more interesting...

So let me start by saying that I came about my interest in our natural world honestly - and that starts with my father.  Don't worry, this is very relevant and will link back at the end.  My father was an obstetrician who over a career that lasted 40 years and through the thick of "the baby boom," delivered over 10,000 babies.  "The miracle of life!" as he often referred to it, fascinated him. This was manifested not only through his profession, but by his avowed kindness and respect for every living thing. He had a particularly dedicated passion for gardening, expressing joy as each sprout wiggled its way toward the sun and developed into something spectacular.  Every spring it was as if he were a saucer-eyed six-year-old all over again. As a young boy, he explored the local creeks and woods with his close boyhood friend Charles Schwartz – the noted biologist and wildlife illustrator that worked with the Missouri Conservation Department for most of his career. 

I became enthralled with our natural world the moment my dad bought 120 acres of land in the Missouri countryside when I was 8 years old. In a sense, this was my father's classroom and my siblings and I were his students. My brother Joe ultimately became a zookeeper and my brother BIll still works as a land manager/rancher/horse trainer with an expertise in native habitat restoration.  I, on the other hand, was always sketching, sculpting and drawing. Charles Schwartz, who surprisingly I never met, became somewhat of an idol of mine. I carefully studied and marveled at his fabulous artwork, contained in each monthly issue I devoured of the Missouri Conservationist magazine.

I spent every summer and many, many weekends at the farm, catching frogs, exploring every hole or mound, laying in the pasture watching the clouds, camping out in the barn, or the woods, or the cornfields.  I developed a fondness for fishing and hunting and gave a lilttle prayer of thanks for every fish, or frog or squirrel I killed.  I was one of those kids who enjoyed sitting silently in the woods, closing my eyes and just listening to the sounds and feeling the breeze across my face. I was always deeply aware and reverential to the interconnectedness of it all. When not outside, I drew pictures and took every art class I could through high school and my limited opportunities at college.  I won city-wide contests, and other recognition, but despite my obvious talents, it was impressed upon me that "art" was not a practical profession.

My parents were right, it wasn't practical and is a very difficult road with limited opportunities. I always found it fairly easy to make good grades, so went the "make a living with your brain" route, and ultimately earned a double degree in social work and urban affairs at St. Louis University in 1980 and my Law Degree from St. Louis University in 1985.  Yes, I became a lawyer and made a wonderful living in law and law related professions for many years.  And I continued to draw, sculpt and paint. 

And then one day, in my forties, I learned that due to rapid changes in our technical world, my very specialized law related and fairly lucrative job was eliminated. Like so many other people, I found myself at an age and in a position where my best opportunity was to reinvent myself from scratch. For anyone in that position, I would recommend taking a clear inventory and appraisal of your unique talents and abilities, then seize the rare opportunity it provides, then give it your all. Oh its scary, and failure, or multiple failures, are a fairly strong likelihood. But I was always one that thrilled to the challenge - more courage than brains, one might say.

So for me, I determined to try to achieve later in life the "impractical," but logical, extension of my childhood formation, and become the very best, most accomplished wildlife artist I could possible be - an artist who, despite the odds, 'knows in the end, the triumph of high achievement" as Teddy Roosevelt might say. I decided to put doubt and worry aside and simply trust in my skills and work-ethic and let the rest play out as it may.  Law school taught me how to self-study, ask questions and learn - it is all just the same. Study, apply, practice, improve. Paul McCartney was self-taught, and I would argue that every accomplished artist is, after they master the fundamentals which are pretty readily available to anyone with the discipline to learn them.  I was additionally fortunate to have had an excellent education in the fundamentals from my high school art teacher Ed Berns. 

So here I am, now 10 years later on that never ending journey. My "masterpiece" is always at least one painting away. I have an objective with every piece and I evaluate at least 80% of my artistic decisions as "right" or "wrong" decisions. I'm not big on artistic expression, but strive for artistic accomplishment. "Effort and achievement," not "success or failure" are my operative words. In the end, each completed piece stands or falls on its own.  Sometimes I exceed my expectations, sometimes I struggle mightily.  And sometimes my most discouraging struggles result in my most popular paintings! Go figure.

The goal is simple: optimize your talents, do your best, and bring value to the world.

So what is the value I hope to bring? It may seem trite, but the answer is a simple recognition of beauty. We turn on our media and see pain and strife and ugliness and destruction. But that is not the world which we were given. The world we were given is actually extraordinarily ordered and beautiful. My job as an artist is to continually help illuminate that. Every painting I do is defined by that overarching objective. My work is simply a celebration of "the miracle of life" my father taught me about so many years ago.