From Lawyer to Artist: Brenda Hope Zappitell’s Journey

Not many lawyers trade in their briefcase for an artist palette, but that’s exactly what Professional Artist contributor Brenda Hope Zappitell did, much to the surprise of her peers — and herself.

Zappitell admits that she “wasn’t one of those people that grew up saying they wanted to be an artist.” She didn’t even start painting recreationally until an experience at an art gallery in Mexico: “I walked into [the] gallery and thought to myself, I can do that.”

She’d recently left her job as a lawyer to have children and began stealing moments for her art while her kids were napping, painting in the bathroom with the baby monitor balanced next to her palette. Even then, she didn’t think she would paint professionally. She said her first goal was just to create a series of acrylic paintings that related to each other. Before she knew it, she expanded beyond that first series and began accumulating artwork.

Five years ago she began listing some of her art on her website, not expecting much. She just hoped to be able to put it somewhere other than under her bed. “I just wanted to sell my paintings to have the opportunity to paint more.” About two weeks later, Zappitell said, “I got a call from a gallery in Vail (Colorado) that I’m still with today.”

And that was just the beginning.

Read Zappitell’s blog here!

Slowly but surely Zappitell began getting her art into more and more galleries, her professional career growing along with her still young family. How does she fit both her family life and her blossoming career as a professional artist into her schedule? “You get the work done, and then you move on.”

This fast, purposeful attitude has transferred over to her art. “I’m very prolific,” Zappitell said with a laugh. There’s no doubt that the stolen moments in the bathroom impacted the speed and efficiency with which she paints — when you only have short spurts of time, you can get things done, she says.

Zappitell’s career continued to turn in surprising directions even after her rise to full-time professional painter.

“One day I emailed the previous editor [of Professional Artist magazine] about ideas for an article,” said Zappitell, and just two weeks later, the editor was asking Zappitell if she wanted to write for the magazine.

At first Zappitell didn’t think she would have time, in between her art and her family, but ultimately decided to “seize the opportunity.” She says that the experience has been a beneficial one, forcing her to think outside of the box.

“The most exciting part about it is that I’ve had the opportunity to talk to some incredible artists,” said Zappitell. “The more artists you know, the better off you are.”

Her advice to aspiring artists?

“Go with your passion and keep moving forward.”

It certainly wasn’t expected, but Zappitell took her own advice. Five years later, this abstract painter hasn’t looked back.