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The Pursuit of Painting Full-time: Meet Artist Ali Leja

Updated: Jan 5, 2021

Given her background as a high school guidance counselor, it's no wonder that artist Ali Leja is always offering solid advice. Matter of fact, I've picked her brain for art biz advice on multiple occasions. So, it was a no-brainer to record a few of these gold nuggets for my interview series, "When Artists Drink Cocktails." Although Ali isn't a big cocktail drinker (she opted for a cool glass of water), she sometimes enjoys a fancy craft cocktail at a restaurant and she sure can paint a mean gin and tonic in the studio.

If you follow Ali on her social networks, then you would know that her colorful and happy paintings have made their way into galleries and shows around the Southeast. It's hard to believe that just six years ago Ali was teaching herself how to paint. She made learning to paint her priority, painting daily for three years, even spending late nights after work to hone her skills in the studio. That dedication paid off when she was able to leave her job at the high school and follow her dream of becoming a full-time artist. She believes anyone can learn how to paint and to hear her talk about it will inspire any nay-sayer.

I got a long-awaited peek around her studio where she shared how she keeps her paintings loose, giving me a quick demo with one of her popular cocktail paintings. And, I have to admit that I experienced a "light bulb" moment when she talked about how she keeps her style consistent no matter what she's painting.

Towards the end of our interview, I asked Ali to share advice for artists who want to approach shops or galleries. She candidly spoke about how artists need to get comfortable with rejection if they genuinely want to succeed. Opportunities to show artwork is a numbers game which means for every "yes" she gets there might be 30 inquiries where she heard "no" or received no response as at all. Developing a thick skin is a necessity.

Yes, this is might be one of my longer artist interviews but there was so much great advice that I struggled to cut it down. Whether you're an artist or an art collector, you will certainly enjoy the insights Ali offers in our full conversation. Also, be sure to give Ali a follow on Instagram and Facebook to see where her artwork pops up next or visit her website to learn more info.

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