How a Young Artist Sold 400 Paintings in One Year

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…

How a Young Artist 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.

How a Young Artist Sold 400 Paintings in One Year

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.

How a Young Artist Sold 400 Paintings in One Year  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 PinterestBe 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

29 Comments

  1. Kathryn April 24, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    Love to hear stories like this…it’s so true about working hard and putting yourself out there! Good for him!!

    • Lori McNee April 24, 2014 at 10:52 pm

      Kathryn as you can see, Jonathan’s perseverance has paid off. I am grateful he was willing to share his inspiring story with us. He has a big personality that helps him too… 🙂

  2. Dave Casey April 24, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    Congratulations to Jonathan. I am so happy that he didn’t listen to those that told him he was crazy and should get a nice, “safe” job. I can’t imagine what this world would be like if everyone that had a dream was encouraged to follow that dream. I think it would be a much better place and people would be much happier.

    • Lori McNee April 25, 2014 at 9:37 am

      Hello Dave, I love your thoughts. It’s so true. Just think how many people’s success stories started with others doubting their dreams – like the Wright brothers! Thanks for taking time to comment.
      Happy daily painting,
      Lori

  3. Evelyn Valdez Martinez April 24, 2014 at 8:59 pm

    Wow! 400 Ptgs. What a thrill. Hard work did pay off for this artist.
    I did sell one off the easel at a beach in Hawaii, that was fun.

    • Lori McNee April 24, 2014 at 10:34 pm

      Hello Evelyn, Jonathan’s story was worth sharing. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Congrats on your off the easel sale. That is a good feeling for sure!
      Happy painting, Lori 🙂

  4. Bill McKim April 25, 2014 at 2:49 am

    Do what you love, and yes I always meet interesting people when out shooting at the beach.i hope his story inspires more artist.

    • Lori McNee April 25, 2014 at 9:39 am

      Bill, I find it interesting how photographers and artists share such similar stories. We are all artists and can learn from each other. I follow a lot of photographers on social media and learn from their success stories. I’m glad you enjoyed this painter’s story.

      Thanks for the visit,
      Lori

  5. Sonja Caywood April 25, 2014 at 5:25 am

    So inspiring! He made art a priority, and didn’t wait for a career to come to him first! Thanks for sharing, Lori!

    • Lori McNee April 25, 2014 at 9:34 am

      Hello Sonja, fun to see you here! Yes, I was so inspired by Jonathan I had to share his story with you all. Just painting the 400 paintings is pretty incredible in itself!

      Lori 🙂

  6. Lucy Chen April 25, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    What an inspiring story! If I had found art in such early years, I would for sure choose his route, too. Oh he’s lived the life I would live in another life! His paintings are beautiful! I love the colors!

  7. Miguel April 27, 2014 at 8:13 am

    Thanks for sharing this story. It rings true for all artists, follow your passion with abandon, and the wonders will fall at your feet.

    • Lori McNee April 28, 2014 at 12:31 pm

      True Miguel. Jonny’s hard work has paid off…and he’s keeping that passion alive.

  8. Maggie Latham April 27, 2014 at 10:22 am

    Not an easy path to choose, but such an inspiring story. Thanks for posting this.

    • Lori McNee April 28, 2014 at 12:30 pm

      Maggie, I have found that most things that are worth-it aren’t easily achieved. 😉 Thanks for taking time to share your thoughts.

  9. Jonathan Luczycki April 28, 2014 at 10:51 am

    It’s been fun reading all these comments guys! Thanks for the compliments and taking the time to view my paintings. Working hard pays off! With whatever you do just give it all you got and set goals. Keep your eye on the prize. And when you meet set goals, treat yo self!

    • Lori McNee April 28, 2014 at 12:29 pm

      Hey Jonny! It’s great to have you stop in and comment. You’ve been such an inspiration…I knew my readers would love your story. Thanks again for being so generous.
      Happy painting – and selling!
      Lori 🙂

  10. John Horejs May 1, 2014 at 9:56 am

    Hey Lori,
    Thanks for sharing such an inspiring story. Helps me remember back when I started….. What a great ride it is! I am so grateful for those who went before me and showed me it was possible to make, not only a good living with my art, but a great life as well. One is blessed to associated with so many wonderful people along the way….. and to be a conduit to bring beauty into the world to bless others, well, Lori, you know.
    Thanks for all your good work! Best to Jonny. We’ll be watching and enjoying your success!

    John

    • Lori McNee May 1, 2014 at 10:47 am

      Great to see you here John! Thanks for taking time to comment. I’m looking forward to painting with you this summer. Let’s hope we can have 10% of the ‘luck’ Jonny has created. I plan on getting out there and sharpening my skills way ahead of August this year.

      Hugs, Lori

  11. Amy Baldwin May 10, 2014 at 3:22 am

    Challenge accepted!

    • Lori McNee May 10, 2014 at 9:42 pm

      Keep us posted! 🙂

  12. Reda June 7, 2014 at 1:01 am

    Congratulations!!! You made it work 🙂 Though I can’t help to wonder, how big a car you own, if you only had your car to live in, where did you store your paintings (canvases, especially mounted, take quite some space) and paints? Also, how did you survive without money – like food and same art supplies? I wonder if people would donate to you while you were without apartment and paid employment. I am honestly glad you have made it, I do believe not a lot of people would be able to go what you went through, this was a tough survival journey to get noticed.

    • Lori McNee June 15, 2014 at 11:01 pm

      Yes Reda, this is a survival story! Thank you for taking time to comment and congratulate John. He is inspiring for sure!

  13. Arjun bahadur singh September 29, 2014 at 3:25 am

    thanks a lot…… i find my self trying to express through my art instead of art just doing its own thing

  14. Yasmin November 20, 2015 at 9:07 pm

    Its success stories like these that inspire me to keep following my dream of being an artist. This year I have been drawing more than ever, i just love art so much. I’m in year 10 and i don’t really what i want to do for a normal career because the thing i really want to do is be an artist. Do you have any tips for young aspiring artists like myself?

    • Lori A McNee November 20, 2015 at 10:14 pm

      Hello Yasmin,

      Drawing is the basis of all good art, so you are ahead of the game with that! Keep practicing your craft and hang around other positive artists and people who support your dreams. This blog is full of inspiring posts that will help you! Good luck on your journey and thanks for sharing your thoughts. ~Lori

  15. Owl March 30, 2016 at 11:57 am

    So basically, this painter just got very, very lucky. Check. Got it.

    • Lori A McNee March 31, 2016 at 11:59 pm

      Luck, timing, or opportunity knocked and he was there to answer! 😉
      (Also, my apologies for the very belated reply!)

  16. pilan September 10, 2016 at 9:28 pm

     I just read Jonnys story. I don’t think luck played much of a part in his sucess. It was downright elbow grease and nose to the grindstone. He is an example of what a person can do when they put their mind, heart and soul into something.  And, they refuse to be beat, to give up and to admit defeat.  I’ve traveled this road but not in painting. So I know how hard it is but rewarding in many ways.

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