Find Your Artist Within


In an effort to encourage UA employees to participate in the juried art show “On Our Own Time”, we are featuring some past winners in a series of articles written by Susan L. Miller and originally printed in 2009. All of these colleagues balanced a busy professional and personal life and still found time to pursue their muse. So can you!


Christine Mach-Handgis has been at the UA almost three years and currently works as an Administrative Assistant at University College in the ILC. That’s her professional hat. Have her don her creative cap and you’ll find a self-taught artist. As far as formal training goes, she took just one six-week class through the Park District and found that particular experience less than helpful. Not to worry, Christine went on to train herself. She proceeded to devour all kinds of watercolor instruction books to learn various techniques. She did have one huge advantage…she comes by her talent naturally.


Christine said of her father, “He had innate talent and I grew up watching him draw and paint. Drawing came so easily to him and he was extremely talented. I wanted to draw like him for as long as I can remember. He became a rather well known Southern Illinois natural wildlife artist working in the medium of watercolor. “


Creative and adventurous people seem to make up the fabric of Christine’s life. She grew up, as she said, “as an Air Force ‘brat’, travelling all over the world.” Her road map to Tucson had a few detours. She said “I settled in the suburbs of Chicago in the early 70’s when I got married and had one daughter, Jennifer. After being divorced for a few years, I came to Tucson to visit my grandmother, who lived here at the time, and I just couldn’t get Tucson out of my mind. So two years later I moved to Arizona and have never looked back. I met the man I am married to now, who in actuality is the one who challenged me to paint in the first place.”


Christine comes to the UA after a stint of sailing the sea that was meant to be retirement. “My husband had a dream of retiring to a sailboat, but unfortunately, fate did not cooperate, and we headed back to Tucson in the Fall of the following year and I started my job hunt at the University. “ Fortunately her job hunt was successful and Christine added, “I love working at the University.” Not unexpectedly, personal satisfaction and artistic expression are the driving forces in Christine’s artistic endeavors. She has met with commercial success as well. “I have sold some paintings and have hung in galleries, and it is a very heady feeling to have others enjoy your art. But, ultimately, I am my own worst critic, and I have to be happy with what I produce.” Christine plans to expand her painting into various mediums. She said, “I have already tried acrylics, but would now like to try oils and pastels as well. I would also like to try out the new watercolor canvases that are available, which would allow for variability in framing.”


She’s planning for next year’s On Our Own Time and will enter two pieces, though neither of these is yet completed…or even started. But she exudes absolute enthusiasm and we’ve no doubt we will see some stunning new pieces from her at next year’s show. “It was an honor to enter the show last year and to be able to hang with such talented artists that are my peers and coworkers.”


Christine’s transparent watercolor “Desert Beauty” won Best of Show last year and was based on a photograph her husband shot. She said, “To me it was the perfect expression of the love I feel for the desert and all its beauty. I wanted the painting to express the glow of the desert. I will admit to being influenced by Georgia O’Keefe and the statements made by her larger than life flowers.”


Christine’s art has been recognized in several venues. She won 3rd Place at the Southern Arizona Watercolor Guild’s Desert Museum Show in the fall of 2000 and won a ribbon for Best Watercolors at the Oro Valley Art show in spring of 2001.


Do you have an artistic streak just waiting to escape? Be part of the On Our Own Time juried art exhibit!


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Register for the On Our Own Time Staff Art Exhibit

The Annual Art Show and Awards of The National Arts Program® for University of Arizona Employees, Retirees and Volunteers and their Immedite Family Members Co-sponsored by The National Arts Program Foundation of Malvern, Pennsylvania, and the University of Arizona Employee Recognition Committee.


If you have any questions contact Pamela Wagner