September 12, 2019 | Alyson Stanfield

Reinventing Your Art Career with Ali Cavanaugh

In 2014, Ali Cavanaugh had 11 galleries representing her work throughout the U.S. and even overseas. It was all she could do to paint fast enough to supply these galleries with new work.

Artist Ali Cavanaugh's studio table
Ali's studio table

What a great problem to have, right? But something wasn’t sitting right with Ali. So she asked each of the 11 galleries to return her work. One by one they sent back what few paintings remained in their inventories.

There was no animosity. Ali greatly appreciated all the work the galleries did on her behalf, but she was no longer satisfied with the status quo.

She had begun to reconsider not just what her business model looked like, but the art itself.

Artist Ali Cavanaugh's evermore
©Ali Cavanaugh, evermore. Modern fresco, 8 x 10 inches. Used with permission.

She decided to take control and be very deliberate about her next moves.


Music by Wildermiss

In episode 33 of the Art Biz Podcast, you’ll hear about:

  • Ali’s first steps as an artist and initial gallery representation.
  • Why galleries weren’t interested in work behind glass.
  • How Ali took 6 months to teach herself a new watercolor technique and why it was important to do this.
  • How Ali used her blog to attract press coverage and interest from galleries.
  • How Ali has expanded her audience using social media.
  • Ali’s philosophy of the artist’s journey and micro-evolution.
  • Why it’s critical to challenge yourself as an artist.
  • Why Instagram is the perfect platform for getting affirmation for your work.
  • The reason Ali pulled her art from galleries and what happened to those 25 pieces.
  • How Ali began raising her prices and why art fairs were the best venue for the new prices.
  • Ali’s monograph that was published by Unicorn Publishing in 2019.
  • Details of Ali’s intention to renovate a property in the small town of St. Genevieve, Missouri.
  • Ali’s upcoming plans for Patreon.


Music by Wildermiss

About My Guest

Ali working in the studio
Ali working in the studio. Photo courtesy Fred Lynch.

Ali Cavanaugh studied painting at Kendall College of Art and Design and the New York Studio Residency Program in New York City, earning a BFA from Kendall College of Art and Design in 1995. At the age of 22, she co-founded an atelier–The New School Academy of Fine Art–in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She relocated to Santa Fe, New Mexico in 2001. It was during her six years in Santa Fe that she developed her modern fresco process on kaolin clay. 

Her paintings have been the subject of numerous national and international solo and group exhibitions. Cavanaugh's  paintings have been featured on book covers, countless internet features such as the Huffington Post, Fine Art ConnoisseurArtsy and in numerous print publications including The New York Times Magazine, American Art CollectorAmerican Artist Watercolor. She has painted portraits for TIME magazine and The New York Times. Her work is featured in more than 400 private and corporate collections throughout North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. She currently lives in St Louis, Missouri.

In 2019, the gorgeous monograph Ali Cavanaugh: Modern Fresco Paintings was published.

Follow Ali on Instagram: @_alicavanaugh_

10 comments add a comment
  • Loved this interview! I have seen Ali’s beautiful work at the Cobb Marietta Museum some time ago She has been very inspiring for me on numerous levels ( her faith, talent, business sense etc) Thank ya you for this!

  • I’ve been following Ali’s career for years. Her skill with watercolor and the lush surfaces she creates are just so inspiring. Thank you for sharing your idea of the artist journey with us, Ali. I too am working through some changes in my studio work. It was helpful to hear your own story as you move through this journey we call life.

  • Wow! Ali, you are an inspiration! Your journey is amazing and overwhelming to me! Thanks, Alyson, for the great interview!

  • Such an amazing pod cast. It was so helpful!
    Getting out there on Instagram really works. I need to be more consistent. Ali is an incredible artist and sounds like a remarkable woman. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom.

  • Ali and Allison,
    Thank you, thank you, thank you!
    This was so inspirational as a young, life long Artist of 70!
    Bravo!

  • Ali, such beautiful work; thank you for this, your generosity & frankness. I also rely on prayer, couldn’t do without. Thank you, Allison; this is an amazing podcast.

  • Incredible! Such a great interview full of nuggets of knowledge! I’ve followed Ali for years because I showed with her at a gallery in Memphis, TN. I enjoyed hearing the clarity of her vision and the solid no nonsense attitude of what she has done throughout the years to achieve her vision.
    I am an artist in huge life transition as my husband of 22 years is in transition. We built a life together, both fine artists, he a master and me following in his footsteps. I have kept creating throughout my journey with his disease, yet that is all I could do is create and I had to leave a lot of my business on the side lines because I have had limited time with all the caregiving. Yet I’m grateful to know that I am a striver and still willing to challenge myself. I’ve found inspiration and blessings in the brokenness through the journey of his disease.
    You truly are a creative visionary! Blessings to you!
    Thank you Alyson Stanfield as you are and will always be my touchstone!

  • This was so informative and inspiring. I’ll be looking for more of your interviews!

    Thank you,
    Teresa

  • Great story – I connected to what she does and shared on so many levels.
    Look forward to hearing more from Ali and Alyson!

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