Painting on Unstretched Canvas

Whether you are an artist or art collector, I have no doubt you know how expensive it can be to ship large paintings. When you are shipping very large paintings, you’ll probably even need to send the painting in a crate. I haven’t shipped many larger paintings up to this point, but since I’ve started painting on larger canvases, now I’m starting to think more about shipping options, especially for shipping art internationally, which can be extra costly.

One alternative is painting on unstretched canvas, which is basically just painting on a piece of fabric. There are several ways you can display paintings on unstretched canvas, which is simply canvas that hasn’t been placed on the wooden stretcher bars that you see on the back. I’m am sharing two of my favorite ways you can hang unstretched canvas paintings.

What’s nice about paintings on unstretched canvas is that you can loosely roll the canvas and ship in a tube instead of a big box or a crate. I can see where shipping tubes would not only be less costly, but easier to pack, too.

After purchased by the collector, paintings on unstretched canvas can be taken to a framer, who can then place the painting on stretcher bars, like the one below. However, I’ve also heard that stretching a canvas after painting on it can damage the piece. Displaying artwork on stretcher bars is probably the most traditional and most popular way of displaying a painting on canvas.

There are ways you can hang unstretched canvas, other than just adding stretcher bars and wire. One way is to install grommets, which Barbara Downs has done so beautifully in her collection of paintings here on her website.

Another method is to simply hang the unstretched canvas with push pins, as I believe that is how August Vollbrecht’s paintings are hung in this show at M 2 3 Gallery. I just love how raw and modern these paintings look.

If you are an artist who has experience painting on unstretched canvas, I’d love to hear about your experience. And if you are an art collector, I’d love to know if you would be inclined to purchase a painting on unstretched canvas, or if you are only interested in paintings that are already on stretcher bars.

– Lori

P.S. My Abstract Painting for the Absolute Beginner book is on schedule to be released on Amazon by March 15th, 2021.

Experimental 5-Color Palette

Close up shots of Heading Northeast, a 36×36 painting on canvas created from my most recent 5-color palette

Over the past year and half or so, I have been on a quest to find the perfect five-color limited palette. A limited color palette is when you use a very small number of colors straight out of the tubes, and mostly create all of your colors by mixing the manufactured tube colors. I talk about limited palettes in my upcoming book, Abstract Painting for the Absolute Beginner. But I’m sharing a little here too, and if you like this post, you would probably enjoy my book.

There are many reasons to use a limited palette, including efficiency, pocketbook savings, and helping you create artwork cohesiveness. I also believe mixing your colors makes your work look more unique.

For months I was using six tube colors, which included:

titanium white
cadmium yellow light
quinacridone magenta
turquoise
ultramarine blue
burnt sienna

Just in the past month, I’ve dropped the turquoise and replaced it with phthalo blue, because I can create a turquoise color by mixing the phthalo blue with a litlle cadmium yellow light and white. So I found turquoise (my favorite color by the way) taking up a spot on my palette that was unneeded. Now my palette consists of:

my new 5-color palette

From left to right:

titanium white
cadmium yellow light
quinacridone magenta
phthalo blue
burnt sienna

Did I mention I am testing my palette out to see if I can drop ultramarine blue? 🙂 We’ll see how it goes. I might still need to use ultramarine blue on occasion, but honestly the main reason I was using it was to mix it with burnt sienna to get black. I’ve found, however, that I can get nearly the same color by mixing equal amounts of phthalo blue and burnt sienna, as shown below. It does have a tiny bit of a green shade as the phthalo blue has some green in it, but it’s pretty close to black.

If you’d like to try using a limited palette, I recommend you use white, a yellow hue, a red hue, a blue hue, and a brown like burnt sienna. Play around with the colors and enjoy creating new colors. You’ll want a yellow, red, and blue hue (primary colors) so that you can create your secondary colors (orange, green, violet).

I love experimenting with color and think it’s simply amazing how many different colors you can mix with just five out-of-the-tube colors. Are you using a limited palette? I’d love to hear about it.

Be on the lookout for Abstract Painting for the Absolute Beginner to be available on Amazon by March 15, 2021. If you’d like to be notified when the book is available (it might be sooner!), sign up for my mailing list.

~ Lori

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Painting Small + Large

Me painting my first painting of 2021, Saturday Morning, 36×36 Acrylic on Canvas

It’s hard to believe that just two years ago, I created a small series of 2×2 paintings that I turned into magnets, given that I am currently working on 36×36 canvases. These miniature paintings were a lot of fun to create, but I have to say I like painting large pieces more. But I feel fortunate that I am able to scale my work both ways – smaller and larger, because painting small is so much different than painting large. In some ways I think painting smaller is harder than painting larger pieces.

I once heard another artist say “painting large is no different than painting small; Just use a bigger brush.” I totally disagree. When you get used to painting larger pieces, then drop down to smaller sizes, I think several things happen. While I don’t know if this is true for all artists, it definitely is for me. When I paint small, my work can get tighter, which is frustrating as I tend to prefer a looser style.

2×2 miniature paintings turned into magnets

Psychologically speaking, I also think the healing benefits I get when painting large outweigh that of painting small. I can pour tremendously more emotion into a big painting than a small one, and the freedom I feel when painting large just doesn’t compare to what I feel when creating small paintings. I also find that anytime I switch gears (going small to large or large to small), I go through an adjustment period, almost as if I’ve forgotten how to paint.

In 2019, my preferred size to paint was 9×12, and I guess you could say that was my still life year. I created several abstracts that year, but mostly I was trying to work on my observational painting skills, and improve in that area. Below is a still life painting I created that year.

Onion Still Life, 9×12 oil on panel, 2019

I have a goal of continuing to increase the size of my paintings. In my upcoming book, Abstract Painting for the Absolute Beginner, I recommend to my readers that once they become comfortable with the size they are working on, to size up, and keep doing that until they are creating a size they desire. My main size in 2019 was 9×12 and my main size in 2020 was 24×24. This year, in 2021, it looks like my main size will be 36×36, and next year my goal is to work on 48×48 canvases.

Tentative Book Cover, Release Date March 15th, 2021, or sooner

Beyond that, who knows what I will do. I think much of it will depend on if I move my studio or keep it at home. Right now my studio can only accommodate up to 60×60 paintings.

While I could definitely paint 48x48s this year, I want to grow into these larger sizes. I really think we grow accustomed to the sizes we are working on, and we build up skill in producing that size. I don’t think it’s just a matter of the size of your brush. 😉

– Lori

Big Dream

My current home studio

It used to be that my big dream was to get my work into a gallery. After achieving that, then I had a big dream in 2020 that is actually going to happen in 2021! More on that later when the time gets closer. Now my big dream is to have an away-from-the-home studio where it’s comfortable for those interested in my work to easily come and see my studio space and paintings. I’ve been looking at spaces available and the cost of them for quite some time now to get some ideas for when the time comes that I actually do move my studio space.

Then when I move my studio, my husband and daughter can use the current studio space for a game room and arcade, as they’ve been dreaming of. They would be thrilled I have no doubt.

Don’t get me wrong. I am very grateful for the art studio space I have now, but I am finding that I am quickly running out of space since I am working on larger pieces now. I’m just working on 36x36s, but even those are quite large compared to my 24x24s of 2020. One of my goals for 2021 is to work larger, and to finish a piece each week – larger pieces that I am working on now.

I am imagining my new studio space now — a large painting wall that can accommodate up to six foot canvases, shelves to store canvas, finished paintings, and supplies, over-the-door organizer to hold my paints, work table, small couch across from the painting wall, light gray walls, a floor that won’t matter if paint gets splattered on it, lots of windows for natural lighting, and of course a coffee maker and mini fridge to hold lunch items and snacks. The ideal studio set-up would be in a commercially zoned area where I could also have a small gallery to exhibit my paintings.

I created over 100 (smaller) pieces in 2020, but since I’m going to be working larger this coming year, I decided one painting a week would be a good goal. So if I achieve my goal, I will have created 52 new pieces by the end of 2021. I also have a goal to complete my book by March 15th. 

I plan to create a new promo video by the end of June. I created a promo video in the spring of 2020, but you know how it can be. You can be pleased with the outcome of something, only to not like it at all days, weeks, or months later. Well, yes, that’s what happened with my promo video. I have in mind how I want to create my new one and I’m hoping it will turn out much better than my first video.

I have several other goals as well, so I am hoping to have an awesome upcoming year. I love setting goals and when I meet my goals, I feel a huge sense of accomplishment. Every time I reach a goal, I want to reach even higher for the next.

Speaking of goals, I always create SMART goals. I’ve talked about this before, but in case you’re new to my site, SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based. It’s good to talk about this now since the start of the new year is almost here. Some examples of SMART goals would be: 1) To finish 52 paintings by the end of 2021, 2) To create a promo video by June 30th, 2021, and 3) To write 52 blog posts by the end of 2021.

I am looking forward to a great year and I hope you are too! What goals do you have for 2021?

Cheers,
Lori

Becoming Centered

Becoming Centered, 36×36 Acrylic on Canvas

Sometimes pieces flow out of me like this one did, while others can be more of a struggle. I felt very centered while painting “Becoming Centered” and I feel the title is a reflection on my life.

What does it mean to be “centered?” For me, being “centered” means having a great support system of family and friends, feeling mentally and physically healthy, getting to do what I love – painting and writing, and having a sense of purpose. It means getting up every day with the energy  to tackle and embrace whatever comes my way. It means not being burdened with the past or worried about the future.

Engaging in meaningful and deep relationships with close family and friends along with medication that works, helps keep me from experiencing major lows as I have lived with depression for several years now. Luckily, I haven’t experienced a low point for quite some time.

My art serves as a healing tool and has become my way of life. I often work through emotions in the first layer or two of each painting I create. I almost always start with dark colors and work up to lighter colors in the final layers. I feel as though this process is symbolic of rising up out of darkness, and signifies my triumph over depression. As I go through this process with each painting, I am reminded of where I’ve been and where I am now. And with each finished painting I become more centered.

I have been listening to modern jazz lately while I paint and have finished five pieces in my jazz inspiration series.  Going forward, I will only share small detail shots of the paintings until the full series is released in April 2021. 

How about you?  Do you feel centered? I would love to hear from you.

Don’t Stop the Music

Don’t Stop the Music, 36×36 Acrylic on Canvas

This is one of the first geometric style paintings I have created and it was a blast to create. When you look at it, it feels fun, don’t you think? Don’t Stop the Music is the fifth painting in my jazz inspiration series. 

While this is nothing new —  listening to music while I paint — listening to jazz and classical music while I paint is new to me, because I usually listen to new age, Celtic, pop, or rock. There’s something about jazz and classical music that seems to add different qualities to my paintings. I am able to channel the energy of the music in a way I have not done before, and the music gives me an energetic feeling.

I think I was just starting to hit a creative block before I switched up my music. In my Unleash Your Creativity: Living a Creative Life guide, I talk about ways you can enhance your creativity. I took my own advice and decided to change my surroundings, specifically the music I’m listening to while I paint. Changing that one thing has had an amazing impact on the overall quality of paintings I have been creating. I am a firm believer that we are influenced by all five of our senses when we paint, including what we hear.

If you are interested in my free guide on creativity, just sign up for my mailing list at loririvera.art and you’ll receive instant access, along with other perks.

abstract art series created while listening to jazz music.
My ongoing jazz music inspiration series

Music has always been such a huge source of inspiration for me in painting, but especially this year. Jazz music is becoming my favorite music to listen to when painting. Check out my top 10 favorite jazz songs of this year on my YouTube playlist

My current favorite jazz singer is Jamie Cullum, and four out of the five paintings in my ongoing series were painted as I listened to his music. I’m changing things up, though, and just switched over to listening to my YouTube playlist. I’m not sure how long I will paint to this list, but I imagine I’ll change it again soon.

Cheers,
Lori

P.S. I’m writing a new abstract painting book, and I’m about half finished with the writing portion. I still need to finish the writing and lay out everything in Adobe InDesign. I plan to release the book on or before March 15th.

2020 Year in Review

Wow. What can I say about 2020 other than wow. What a crazy year it has been, and despite everything, I was able to finish over 100 paintings this year, mostly smaller paintings the first half of the year, and mostly medium size paintings the second half of the year. I did create a 48×60 and a 36×36 late in the year also. Next year I plan to create a lot of abstract 36x36s.

This year was a lot of experimentation and painting a wide variety of genres, including, still life, portraits, landscapes, and abstracts. During the fall season, I made a conscious decision, however, to begin focusing almost entirely on abstract paintings, because that really is where my passion lies.

Me with my painting, Midnight Forest, inspired by Mussorgsky’s Baba Yaga

I only participated in one local show during 2020, and three out-of-town shows. Most galleries were not operating as normal, which really limited what us artists could do. And shows like Funk in the City were canceled due to COVID. I did participate in a show with the Watercolor Society of Indiana in February at the Hoosier Salon in New Harmony, Indiana.

I also participated in exhibits with Eclectica! Gallery in Midlothian, VA, a miniatures exhibit at HIVE artspace in York, PA, and an exhibit with Fresh Air Gallery in Columbus, OH.

Also, in 2020, I began hosting one-on-one painting lessons in my studio, but only after a couple sessions, I decided to halt the lessons until the pandemic was over. Recently I’ve decided to offer one-on-one lessons via Zoom.

I enjoyed a couple plein air painting sessions with our 4 Artist Friends group. Here we are below.

Check out these girls’ artwork:

Jaime Haney (jaimehaney.com)
Sandy Dodd (sandydodd.smugmug.com)
Vicki Wilson (vickiwilsonart.com)

Out of all the pieces I’ve created this year, these are my favorites among landscapes, animals, portraits, abstracts, still life, and florals.

My most significant accomplishment of 2020 has been getting into the habit of working in series. I think that is what has helped me grow the most this year. My favorite series I’ve started is paintings inspired by classical music. So far I have seven finished paintings in the series, below, plus Autumn’s Swirling Winds, above. Listed is the title of the piece, and the classical composer it was inspired by. All paintings in the series, so far, are 24×24, and I plan to make this an ongoing series.

I hope 2021 is a better year for all artists, and everyone in general. I’m looking forward to what the future holds. How about you? What was 2020 like for you?

Cheers,
Lori

Don’t Be Afraid to Be a Beginner

Twentysomething, 6×6 acrylic on paper

Hello guys! I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving with yummy food while enjoying the company of friends and family. It will just be the three of us this year — my husband, daughter, and me. We are making ribs instead of turkey this year, along with mashed potatoes, stuffing, macaroni & cheese, peas, and crescent rolls. Oh, and cheesecake! YUM!

Also, I thought I’d share with you a little about my journey as an artist so that maybe I can encourage you to start creating art if you don’t already. What I really want to hone in on though is that it’s important not to be afraid of being a beginner. All artists were once beginners who didn’t know much and had a long way to go before getting to where they are today.

Painting can be the most relaxing, challenging, and rewarding activity if you allow it to be. You can’t be afraid…afraid to fail, afraid of disappointment, afraid of trying new things, or afraid of what transpires on the canvas (because it’s a part of you and it’s not always pretty).

I remember back when I first began. I knew zilch about painting, except that I knew you used brushes and paint. I always took art classes in middle school and high school, but had more experience with drawing than anything else. And even though I wouldn’t say I was that good at painting, I enjoyed the process and found that it helped with my mental health. So I kept on.

So since I’ve been thinking about all of this beginner artist type stuff, I decided I’d like to try linocut printmaking and I would be pretty much be a beginner at it and the thought of that excites me. I love learning new things and trying new adventures, and I haven’t tried anything new for quite a while. So it’s time. Check out this artist’s process of linocut printmaking: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8lhESQ-bKs

I just loved watching her make that! I did printmaking one time that I can remember, once in middle school. I like the idea that I’d be able to do this kind of art while I’m in the living room watching TV with my family. I wouldn’t have to be confined to my studio to do it. It’s something that I think would be quite portable.

Now I share with you my journey from 2009 to 2020. As you can see, my style has changed somewhat, but you’ll probably notice that I’ve always leaned toward abstract, even my earlier representational pieces. I’m showing you this so you can see that we all have to start somewhere. Throughout the years I continued to get more and more abstract.

My journey 2009-2020

You might have noticed that two years are missing – 2011 and 2012. Our daughter was born in January 2011, so the first two years of her life I was a stay-at-home full-time mom, which I wouldn’t have traded for anything. But at the end of 2012, I went back to work in the peer mental health field, and also started painting again.

I painted part-time just in my spare time while I worked full-time from the end of 2012 to 2018. I’d say around 2015 is when I started entertaining the idea of pursuing art full-time. But I didn’t do so until 2018. That’s really when I consider my career began.

I’d love to hear about your journey. Leave me a comment or send me an email at loririveraart@gmail.com.

Cheers,
Lori

P.S. You can catch my next abstract art class starting January 8th. You can sign up on the class website at www.relax-paint.com.

Now on Saatchi Art Gallery

Since I joined saatchiart.com as an artist last week, I have been busy getting prepared to ship paintings. One of the reasons I chose to join Saatchi was because I love the way they require their artists to ship paintings. They require you to use certain packing materials and follow about an eight-step process to prepare art for its travels to its new home. So here it is…a photo of all of my shipping supplies, minus the boxes. Now I need a bigger studio! Someday, someday…

Materials for shipping paintings

I ended up getting most of my materials — the foam board, bubble wrap, plastic sheeting, cardboard boxes, and packing tape from Home Depot. I purchased the glassine paper and cardboard corners from Amazon. It was a little tricky finding the foam board that was both long enough in length/width and in thickness. My friend and artist, Jaime Haney, suggested I try a hardware store, and sure enough they had what I needed.

Another reason I chose Saatchi is that they create prints on demand. I have really been wanting to get into selling prints of my work but didn’t want to carry print inventory. I have been tossing around selling prints for some time now, and I think using Saatchi for my prints is the way to go. You can even order frames with your art purchase, or order a canvas print. I love the way canvas prints look!

My art on saatchiart.com

So the next time you are looking to fill a bare wall, try Saatchi. There are thousands of artists and artworks to choose from.

Cheers,
Lori

Holiday Gift for My List Subscribers

Hey there! I have exciting news to share for those who sign up for my VIP list. I will be sending a 5×7″ postcard print as a holiday gift to everyone who signs up for my list by the end of November. I don’t know which painting I will turn into a postcard print, but I promise it will be one of my favorite abstracts of the year.

I’ll be choosing the painting for the postcard sometime within the next week. I will be mailing all of the postcard prints in envelopes to help protect them during their travels to you.

So what do you need to do to get your postcard print gift? Just sign up for my VIP list here.

As a bonus, you also get:

– Free creativity guide
– Exclusive offers
– Viewing and first dibs on new art collections before the general public
– Unique content found nowhere else (inside look at my painting process, studio, and more)

So join now to get your gift. 🙂

Cheers,
Lori

Unleash Your Creativity: Free Guide

Living a
Creative Life

I believe everyone is born to create and be creative. In my guide, “Unleash Your Creativity: Living a Creative Life,” I share techniques you can use to help you rediscover your natural-born creativity. Below I share an excerpt with you. Sign up for my mailing list here.

I am a firm believer that nothing is created 100% out of thin air. In other words, I think inspiration for projects is usually found around us. Many artists find inspiration from other artists, the same goes for writers and other creative professionals. Maybe you like the colors in a shirt and use those colors as your color palette in your next drawing. Maybe you are inspired by the architecture in a small town and apply that architectural style to your painting of a street of homes based on your imagination.

You get this pdf guide for free when you sign up for my mailing list. Sign up for my mailing list here. Most of my examples in this guide are taken from my own art practice, yet they can be applied to anyone’s creative journey. Throughout the last few years, through trial and error, I have identified these ways to boost creativity. I sat down to write and tried to identify the top things that have helped me lead a creative life, not only in my painting, but in all areas of my life.

Duh Duh Dun Dun, 24×24″ acrylic on canvas

Even if you have been one to say things like “I don’t have a creative bone in my body,” I hope to encourage and inspire you to believe differently — to start believing in yourself that you are creative. I’m not saying that you’ll instantly be able to solve every creative problem that faces you or that you’ll be able to paint a masterpiece after reading the guide, but I do hope that it will encourage you to embrace your creativity as you start to unlock your creative side.

Cheers,
Lori

My Creative Process: Part 1

Everyone’s creative process is unique as we are all on individualized journeys. Whether your creative outlet is painting like mine or something else such as knitting, cooking, or composing music, we all have a creative process that is unique to us.

Under the Sea, 8×10 canvases, diptych
available at the Arts Council of Southwestern Indiana’s Holiday Art Sale

It used to be that I’d have 5+ in-progress paintings and I’d bounce back and forth between them. What I found to be true, for me anyway, is that I wasn’t finishing many pieces of art. This was also a time when I didn’t have enough experience to know that abstract paintings can go through many ugly stages before they become an artwork you are pleased with. So I would have tons of paintings in progress that honestly, were all in ugly stages. I would abandon each piece and move on to the next during an ugly stage, only to never even return to some of them.

About a couple years ago, I had an intentional plan to not start any new pieces until I finished the one I was currently working on. Surprisingly, I found this approach to painting more fitting for me, even though it was not easy to change my creative routine. Not only was I able to finish paintings, but my painting itself seemed to improve. While the journey I go through in painting a piece is important, I’ve found that the dopamine-producing event of finishing a piece is equally important. And the way I used to work was not producing many pieces.

There is a huge sense of accomplishment with each finished piece that brings me much joy. I find that starting and finishing one piece at a time (knowing I can’t start a new one until I finish my current one) provides the motivation needed to finish the piece. This motivation also forces me to work through the ugly stages instead of putting the piece aside when the going gets tough.

So how about you? Do you bounce around between many creative projects or do you start and finish one before moving to the next? Whatever your method, keep doing whatever works for you.