Selling Art as a High Schooler: A Madison Hoppler Profile

“They seem to flow right from her, really accurate, really talented. She can take any image, draw it right out like it’s nothing. She doesn’t struggle with producing imagery,” said Tim Lawrence, an art teacher at Oyster River High School (ORHS).

Madison Hoppler (‘20) is a 17-year-old artist at ORHS. She started selling her art last December with help from Lawrence. “She’s my first student to create a professional affiliation and start selling her work to strangers,” said Lawrence. Hoppler sells her work at the Kittery Artist’s Association, a gallery located in Maine. She sold four paintings in the two-week span of the show of which she was recently a part. She’s also sold paintings to teachers in the school as well as to family members and friends. 

In total, Hoppler guesses she’s sold ten paintings since December. The prices vary depending on the size, medium, and amount of time it took, but they range anywhere from $50-$150. “Many have had the option [to start selling work], but they haven’t had the drive or the nature to produce so much work or the ability to give up work. I think being an artist the important thing is being able to get rid of stuff and move on,” said Lawrence.

Hoppler has been creating art for 15 years. She is typically inspired by nature and the world around her. “Every day when I’m just outside that inspires me to paint. I also sometimes do portraits of my family. I’m inspired to do a painting for them and put a smile on their faces when I give it to them,” said Hoppler. She also finds inspiration in other artists she looks up to, such as oil painters like Erin Hanson, an open impressionist painter known for her landscapes.

 Hoppler’s preferred mediums are oil paints and gouache. She likes the details she is able to have in her imagery when painting. She has even done portraits in gouache, which Lawrence said most artists avoid because it’s difficult. Hoppler describes her style as modern impressionism, where she uses mainly pastels and earth tones but she also branches out using diverse color palettes. 

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Hoppler’s creative process varies but she does have a way she goes about her paintings normally. “I will usually look up reference photos online, or I will go out and take my own photos. I typically do seacoast New Hampshire and the oceans and stuff here. I especially like doing that. I did a lot of paintings of the Nubble Lighthouse and those sold really well.” Hoppler says she still paints what she wants, but she is beginning to take into consideration what will sell well. “It’s not a drag,” she says, “what sells I enjoy doing.”

The effort and time needed is part of why Hoppler loves the process. “I love putting hours of hard work into a painting and seeing it pay off and giving it to someone, so they can enjoy it for years to come,” said Hoppler.

She has a very strong work ethic that is apparent to the people around her. “She is my most prolific student in 25 years in terms of production,” said Lawrence. “I’ve never had a student who gives up a lot of paintings to sell because they can. Mostly they’re hoarding things. They’re not going to sell one of their five great paintings. Maddie produces that weekly. She’s got endless paintings.” 

Not just teachers see this but her family does as well. “Madison is someone who’s very passionate and that’s just her personality. When she picks something, she focuses on it and really is engaged with that. As an artist, she devotes her full self to being an artist and her work,” said Megan Deane (‘21), Hoppler’s cousin.

She is also seen by those around her as having a humble character and personality. “She doesn’t need much fanfare either, she’s not, like, parading around the room hopping, skipping, and jumping off the tables, saying ‘look I produced another painting.’ I don’t even know these things are happening, [she’s] just making one after the other after the other,” said Lawrence

Though Hoppler was the first to sell her work professionally at Oyster River while still in school, she has paved the way and inspired her peers to do the same. Connor Quigly (‘20) is now selling his work at the same gallery where Hoppler sells. “I chose to join and put my stuff in, but if it wasn’t for Mr. Lawrence telling me that my stuff would sell and seeing Madison selling a lot of her stuff, then I probably wouldn’t have been as inclined to join,” said Quigly.

Hoppler isn’t positive about what she wants to do with her future but wants art to be a part of it. “I sent a portfolio into UNH, and they gave me a scholarship to go to school there to study art… I know I have a talent, and I do want to do something I love and I love this.”
Artwork by Madison Hoppler