Writer Lynette Carrington
Portraits by Mark Morgan and Elena Thornton
There used to be a time when artist Niki Woehler was too shy to share her love of creating art. But as with any talented artist, there is simply no way to contain artistic passion; it bubbles to the surface where it can be seen and get the attention that it deserves. Woehler’s painting talent has always been there, but the passion came knocking loudly and incessantly just a few years ago.
Blessed with a natural ability for painting and creating, Woehler had no formal art training. She kept her art endeavors well hidden from others, indulging in it as a private hobby.
“I’ve been a ‘closet artist’ for 20-something years,” explains Woehler. “I did art when I needed a happy place. I painted when I needed to de-stress or just break away. I never told anyone that I painted unless they were in my house. Even my good friends didn’t know.”
Woehler had been in a successful marketing career for 30 years. Incredibly accomplished, she was running focus groups at the age of 14, working as a paid copywriter by the age of 16, and went to college for advertising and marketing. Her yearning to create art as a full-time career hit her about five years ago.
“I really wasn’t feeling fulfilled in my job anymore,” says the artist. “I started painting a whole lot more and I actually started to play hooky from work.” It was one of her marketing clients that caught her skipping one day who changed the course of Woehler’s career.
“When I paint, I’m a mess,” she explains. “A friend who was also a client at the time called, and I was scrambling to answer the phone because I was covered in paint.”
“I told her I didn’t want to tell people because I didn’t want them to tell me I was bad at it,” says Woehler.
The client demanded photos of Woehler’s work or threatened to fire her. Woehler sent photos, and the client immediately wanted her to create something for her home.
“She loved it and commissioned me to do two more paintings,” says Woehler. “She said, ‘Niki, you’re amazing at marketing, but this is what you should be doing.’”
After giving it some thought, Woehler decided to do a test using Facebook. She posted a painting on the social networking site and it sold within an hour. Suspecting it was just a fluke, she tried it again with the same results. Positive comments about her work continued to pour in, but still Woehler wasn’t convinced. She posted another work, and once more, it sold immediately.
“This was a sign from the universe that I could do this as a career,” she said. “I shut the whole marketing thing down in 30 days, and I’ve been painting professionally ever since.