About Brennen McElhaney

My Story

I’ve always been an artist. As long as I can remember I’ve always loved drawing and painting.

When Star Wars came out in the summer of 1977 I saw The Movie 18 times in the theater. The shear creativity of the movie along with all the art—the concept sketches and production paintings—absolutely captured my imagination.

I was fortunate to go to art school and study illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design.

After graduation, back in California, I eventually landed a good job at a sportswear company doing apparel graphics (T-Shirt designs). I also got into a number of galleries to show my paintings. Even so, my wife and I were just barely making ends meet. We were both working full time, but it still wasn’t enough to get ahead. And we were racking up a fair amount debt.

A Radical Change

In 2005 my wife and I, took a huge risk that changed the course of our lives. We moved, along with our three young kids, from Santa Barbara, CA to Asheville, NC. I got the go-ahead from the company where I worked to keep my position as Graphic Illustrator and work remotely. We didn’t know anyone, but we seized the opportunity to start a new life and live more deliberately.

In North Carolina, everything seemed to be going well. We bought a nice house and settled into a good groove. But then, on January 11, 2008 my world came crashing down. Without warning, I got laid off from my job of almost 11 years.

I had never been unemployed. And I had never had so much responsibility on my shoulders—a wife, kids, house, debt, and bills. I was scared that we were going to loose our house. I was terrified that my wife would loose respect for me and the life that we had built would crumble. I was afraid that everything we had worked for would be swept away. I felt like I was free-falling.

What is Truly Important

We sat the kids down and explained that I had lost my job we had to ‘tighten our belts’ and cut back on all non-essential expenses. My son (who was 10 years old at the time) offered to give us his savings of 43 dollars to help out with expenses.

That day I learned a valuable lesson about family, generosity and what is truly important.

After unsuccessfully looking for employment for months, I started doing freelance work for a local entertainment company. (I was basically their one-man art department.) This eventually became a full time gig and we were able to get back on our feet financially.

I also began to pursue painting in earnest. I joined a local outdoor painting club and secured representation with three local art galleries. I also started a website AVLarts.com that serves as a community directory for Asheville artists, galleries and art resources. The benefit for me was that, as a local advocate for the arts, networking opportunities were suddenly open to me in the arts community.

After a couple of years I realized that the galleries that were representing me weren’t really selling anything. So, I shifted gears and began to market my own artwork via my website.

My story is not over. I’m still learning new things, working on my craft, and streamlining my business systems, but I’m finally getting traction. I’ve found that communicating directly with you makes all the difference. And I’m able to give a premium level of service that, in my experience, galleries simply aren’t able to offer.

Learn More About Brennen

What art lovers and collectors are saying:

It [your painting] is one of our favorites because it is such a perfect reminder of many happy trips to the Central Coast wine area. I feel as though I can step into the painting at any time and “be there.”
John M. – Memphis, TN

Love seeing your new work and still have your painting of our view over the fireplace!
Terrie B. – Santa Barbara, CA

Brennen’s paintings have a warmth that makes my eyes want to linger and look again to see what I might have missed at first glance. They give me a feeling of an unhurried pace.
Ellie G.

Your painting hangs on a main wall in our living room for us to enjoy every day… Thank you so very much for this terrific painting.
Keith L. – Grants Pass, OR

Both of your paintings are beautifully displayed on my walls.
Karen S. – Lafayette, CO

I love your color palette. The colors all seem a bit muted, as if from brilliant sunlight.
Dennis R. – NC

Brennen does everything well–lettering, graphics, painting, and illustration.
James G. – NY

Brennen, these [your portraits] are so much more than capturing the likeness – you are portraying true personalities. Wonderful!
Anne B. – Old Fort, NC


Get My 2017 Catalog of Artwork

For your viewing pleasure…

Filled with original drawings and paintings by American artist Brennen McElhaney. (Free Download)