January 2021 Issue
About the Cover Artist — Ali Leja
By Meredith M. Deal
Artist Ali Leja of Johns Creek, Georgia, wants her audience to smile. Carefully weaving her personal story into modern, upbeat paintings, Ali is creating positivity and happiness. The many happy subjects in her art reflect hopefulness and laughter.
Our January cover is titled “Island Life”. “I love painting women and figures who look elegant and fun. I do a lot of women paintings in summery clothes or bathing suits with really big hats. I like that they don’t have faces so people can imagine them to be whoever they want,” Ali explained.
Ali’s artworks, which cover a variety of subjects, come to life from mediums of acrylics, charcoal, oil, pastels and ink, each emblazoned with bold lines and bright colors. Her portfolio also includes animals, such as beguiling bees and foxes. “I love painting woodland creatures. We don’t live on a farm, but we collect animals. We have a cat and three dogs. I love bringing animals to life.” Other favorite portfolio subjects include many cocktails, lemons and stylish shoes.
The self-taught, instinctual painter came into her art after serving her community for 20 years as a school counselor. Deciding she needed a change, she explored painting as a creative outlet. “I’ve loved art my whole life. I enjoyed buying art and have always been creative, but never thought I had the skills to be a painter.”
Nine years ago, to combat some of her school counselor stress, Ali decided to learn to paint. Consulting with several artists about becoming one herself, they all told her the same thing: “Paint every day.” Taking their advice, Ali painted every day for three years—approximately 10,000 hours! Her talents blossomed quickly as she started producing meaningful works of art.
At first, selling her art was challenging. But, as an experienced problem solver and new business owner, she used her personal Facebook page for sales, expanding into a website and Instagram feed. “Each time I sold a piece, I was motivated to create more,” Ali explained. She started attending craft shows and arranged for her art to be placed into small local shops, then into larger galleries and high-end boutiques. “Before I knew it, I had a very diversified way of selling art.”
Ali says she is an introspective person striving to be just a little bit better each day. “It’s about being positive. I don’t want people to see my art as just whimsical. There’s a lot more to it; my art is meaningful and spiritual. It’s really about smiling on the inside.”
Ali says she used to consult by listening, but “Now I paint with a touch of joy. I collect art, too, and get excited to open and display my new artworks when they arrive. I always want that feeling of excitement for my clients when they open my art.”
Find Ali’s Art: View and purchase Ali Leja’s artworks, including our cover piece, at Camellia Art Custom Framing and Fine Art Gallery on Hilton Head Island (www.camelliaart.com). Original pieces are also represented by Viola’s Market on St. Simons Island. Visit www.alilejaart.com online to learn more about Ali’s gallery collections, commission pieces and portraits and find her on Instagram @alilejaart.