They all said I was crazy. My family begged me not to do it. My friends laughed and said I wouldn’t last a month. Luckily, I didn’t listen to any of them and chased my dream of being a successful full-time artist. Here’s my story of how I sold 400 paintings in one year…
After graduating from art school with a degree in illustration, I was at a standstill and didn’t know how to dive into the art industry. Back then, I was still living in Laguna Beach, CA, so I decided to try my hand at plein air painting. This was something I had only done once or twice before, and with little success.
After a week I was hooked! I fell in love with the work of Edgar Payne, William Wendt and the likes, and at that moment I knew this was what I wanted to do with my life. I told my friends and family that I would not be going into the field of illustration, but literally into the field to paint from life, in plein air.
After one month of literally painting every day, from sunrise to sunset, I was selling here and there, mostly right off the easel, but I quickly burned through my savings, and soon after, lost my apartment and moved into the comfort of my car parked along the Pacific Coastline. My family tried sending me money but I always refused.
I knew this was what I wanted more than anything. I was determined to make it work. A few more months passed, and things got a bit rougher. I was underfeed and had no gas to move my car, not a dollar to my name, but I kept painting.
On my last stretch of energy, with a dozen paintings laid out by my feet in South Laguna with a ridiculous sunburn and hungry belly, a woman walked by, complimented my work and then bought all of my paintings!
She went to the bank and came back with over a grand in cash, and then took me out to lunch. Turns out this woman, who I remain friends with to this day, was an avid art collector. Then she generously gave me a show in her home a couple weeks later. I nearly sold out at the show and then I got picked up to be represented by a prominent gallery in Laguna Beach the following week.
This was back in 2008 and six years later, I’m painting more than ever.
Last year, I sold over 400 paintings. Mostly small ones, and a few large ones. I will still pick up an illustration job from time to time, but painting plein air is what I love more than anything – this is how I spend my time. I am represented by a couple galleries here in Oregon, but I do most of my sales through my website, which is updated daily.
I was very fortunate to get noticed soon after graduating art school. But, I also know that I would have never made it if I didn’t give it everything I had.
Painting out on location, every single day for several years, has allowed me to make leaps and bounds in my painting skills. It’s also allowed me to network with so many people that I would meet on a daily basis while out in the field. I believe you have to put yourself out there, be vulnerable, be honest, and never stop painting.
Guest artist/author: Since graduating from Laguna College of Art & Design in 2007, Jonathan Luczycki (Lou-ziss-key) has painted outdoors nearly everyday. As of September 2012, Jonathan currently resides and works as a full time painter in beautiful Portland, OR.
Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting Jonathan in Monterey at the 3rd Plein Air Convention. His story and magnanimous personality stole the show! Jonathan has the personality, drive, and passion to succeed. I look forward to keeping tabs on his career! ~Lori
You can find more great tips on Fine Art Tips Facebook Fan Page, on Twitter, Google Plus and on Pinterest. Be sure and check out and my fine art prints and notecards on Fine Art America. Or see my art on my website, LoriMcNee.com. ~Lori