Blog

Getting Inspired Again

IMG-0514

I was recently asked if I could draw a picture of a house, to be used for a housewarming party in which guests would add their thumbprint in ink to the top to make it look like balloons. Though this is not something I typically do, I gladly accepted the commission, knowing that I was capable of doing it. The hardest part was getting all the little rectangles on the garage. They needed to be evenly spaced and all the same size. It took a little measuring, but I eventually got it.

Sometimes it’s good to step outside of our comfort zone so that we can feel refreshed. It was nice doing something different because now I am inspired to get back to my art practice. Not only have I been unmotivated lately, but my daughter has also been out of school and I’ve been spending time with her. I haven’t done any art, with the exception of this house, for the past two weeks! YIKES! I’ve been going to bed at night earlier, too, so I haven’t been up late painting lately.

HOWEVER, as I stated, I am feeling really inspired to get back to painting, and my daughter goes to camp this coming week. So you can bet I will be in the studio. Sometimes I need an extra push to get moving, and this commission was it!

Sometimes I think breaks can be good, too, so that ideas can percolate. I’ve been trying to decide what to paint next, and I’m thinking I may return to still life for a bit. I may try painting everyday, mundane objects, and attempt to make them beautiful. I applied for a solo show with a gallery in Ohio as well. Just in case I’d get selected to show there, I need quite a few more still life paintings completed, even though the show wouldn’t be until next year.

Speaking of inspiration, there is an artist on Instagram named Karen Barton. I’ve been following her for about a month and she is so inspirational. She does just what I said above — takes everyday objects and paints them. Even something as simple as a screw, she can bring to life with paint, and so beautifully. So yes, I’ve been storing up inspiration from her as well.

I plan to get back in the groove this coming week! I’ll keep you updated.

~ Lori

 

My Dream Studio

IMG-0388

Even though most of my painting inspiration comes from within, sometimes I long to have more scenery around me while I’m painting. My dream studio would be in the mountains with large windows on all sides for good lighting. Ideally, all of my light would be natural! I’d also have a sink, a bathroom, and a little refrigerator in my studio. In case you are wondering, the studio wouldn’t be attached to the house. The outside of the studio would be painted turquoise (my favorite color) and the indoor walls would be painted a very light gray. I have found light gray to be a good studio color. It’s not as reflective as white but still bright enough to feel open and airy.

I imagine if I had my dream studio, sometimes I’d also paint outdoors surrounded by mountains and blue sky, while breathing fresh mountain air. I could see myself painting my female figures with mountains in the background.

My husband and I were married and also honeymooned in Gatlinburg, TN. We had such a wonderful time and the scenery and weather were magnificent. It was at the beginning of October, and while the leaves weren’t turning (darn) during our wedding, they were starting to turn by the time we had left. It was gorgeous!!! I would love to go back to the cabin we stayed in and paint in the cabin and on the balcony.

I love the mountains, the quaint little shops, the art, and the fresh mountain air of Gatlinburg. The natural scenery would be so inspirational for painting, but until then, or until I have a studio in the mountains, I will continue to paint in my current studio, which is small, but it works for now!

I often dream of having a larger studio and one like that described above. What about you? What is your dream office, play space, studio, etc.?

Canvas or Hardboard Panels, and Size?

IMG-0360 (1)

Day two of painting faces. I think I may start a series of fun female portraits like the ones on this page and I just hope I can stick with it and keep the series going. I painted these two today and they were so much fun. I tend to jump around a lot with my painting and I’m hoping to change that with my fun portraits. I want to be known for a style/subject matter. I know that is not a priority for everyone, but for me it is.

Right now I’m trying to decide if I want to keep the facial features somewhat consistent or vary them. I’m leaning towards varying the shapes of the eyes, nose, and mouth because I’m afraid all of my paintings will look a little too similar if I keep things consistent. Even today, though I have a different eye color, eyebrows, etc., they look a lot alike because I used same eye and mouth shape.

But the biggest dilemma right now is trying to decide what substrate to use for these paintings. I like both canvas and hardboard panels, although between the two I like the hardboard panels a bit better. The advantage of using canvas is that you don’t have to frame the finished piece. You can just add a wire to the back and hang as is. But I don’t want to leave the sides unpainted, and for some reason when I paint with oil, I hate painting the edges. The hardboard panels must be either framed when completed, or sit on a tabletop easel. However, since 9x13s are a standard frame size, they can be easily popped into a standard frame with the glass removed.

I’m also trying to decide what size to paint. I’ve been painting on 9×13 panels and that seems to be a good size. Not too small, but not so large that the price is high. At this size, they are affordable for a wide audience.

I am still deciding, but at this point I am leaning towards the hardboard panels. I like the fact that they are sturdy and easy to store. I also like the way the oil paint glides on the panels. Canvas can get holes poked through it so easily, and dented too. Sometimes I also don’t like being able to see the tooth of the canvas. I probably need to buy a bunch of panels from Blick Art again.

I used to paint just on canvas. Little did I know that branching out to other substrates would be such a dilemma. So many choices!

My question to my readers is what size painting do you typically buy? Also, do you have difficult choices to make in your chosen career?

IMG_0366

Communicating Feeling Through Art

gooddayIt’s Gonna Be a Good Day
12×12 oil on canvas

This is the first portrait I’ve painted totally from imagination in a long time. I forgot how much fun faces are to paint! I’ve been giving serious thought to my art practice lately. I tend to be all over the map…portraits, landscapes, still life, abstracts, and that is not what I really want.

I think I’ve come to a crossroads with my art in which I need to really decide what it is I want to communicate and how I want to communicate that. I’ve always thought I wanted to communicate feeling, and I think this is still true. Yes, I can communicate a feeling through my abstracts as well, but I think it is easiest for people to connect with portraits. After all, everybody knows what a face looks like.

I think it’s easier to capture an emotion in a portrait than it is a landscape or a still life. Whether it’s an emotion from the day or an experience, or an emotion I simply want to convey, a face can capture it clearly.

So after saying all that, I don’t think portraits are any higher value than any other type of art. However, if your goal is to communicate a feeling, maybe it’s most easily done with portraits. I want people to feel an emotion when they view my artwork, not just say, “Oh that’s pretty.” And as much as I love creating still life paintings, I feel like that’s the kind of response I’m getting from them.

Another thing I love about portraits is that this one I did from my imagination, and I thinking painting from imagination is hard. In some ways, for me anyway, it is more challenging than executing painting techniques.

Just thought I’d share where my thought process are in this never-ending journey of being an artist. I’m seriously thinking about creating faces for a bit and seeing how that goes.

If you are an artist of any kind, what has your journey been like? Did you have a hard time narrowing down what it is you want to be doing? I’m finding it difficult but I’m not giving up!

Lori

 

My Evolution Over the Past 10 Years

I thought it would be fun to dig up pictures of art from years ago, show them here, and talk about how I have evolved as an artist. So to start things off, I’ll show you a couple pictures from each year beginning with 2009 (the year I started painting).

2009

2010

2011-2012
I couldn’t find any pictures of art from these two years. This is probably because I was taking care of my daughter, who was born in 2011.

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

As you can see, my art has gone through many stages as I have tried on different styles. I think this is normal for many artists as they are finding their way and their voice. I still don’t feel like I’ve totally found my voice as an artist, but I always keep trudging along in the journey of finding it. There are also so many styles of art I like, which makes it difficult to narrow down what I want to do the most.

In 2018, as you can see from my photos above, I thought that abstract art was my calling…expressing my inner most feelings through color, line, and other elements. Then I took a still life painting class and a couple sessions of figure drawing in early 2019. I don’t think I regularly painted objectively for a long time because I didn’t have the confidence to do so. Taking some classes gave me an extra boost and now I enjoy objective art and have gained the confidence to tackle it.

It will be interesting to see where I go from here, although I have a feeling I will keep doing what I’m doing — creating both abstract and objective art. Every time I think I have it all figured out, something happens in my life to change things up or I get inspired by another artist, which influences my process. After all, we don’t create out of vacuums. Our creative output is the result of a combination of things, from outside influences, our mood, life experiences, etc.

One thing I do now that I didn’t in the beginning is mix my colors. And hopefully my work looks a little looser now than in the beginning.

Overall, I am happy with my progress as an artist. I think a measure of success for me is growth, and I feel I have grown overall as an artist in the past 10 years. I think my art continually improves, and that is exactly what I am trying to accomplish. Out of the twenty pieces shown on this page, nine of them have sold. I consider that an accomplishment too!

One of my goals as an artist is to loosen up more and I hope I can loosen up in the next couple years, even though it’s hard to put a timeline on something like that. I hope to continually evolve and improve throughout the years. If there ever comes a time when I feel like I’m not improving, that’s when I will have to change things up somehow.

So what about you? How has your art evolved over time?

~ Lori

Oil Painting is Winning My Heart

I am a visual artist living in Southwestern Indiana who publishes art related blog posts regularly. Sign up to receive updates from my blog at the bottom of this page. 🙂

StillLifeWithTigerLily_9x12_Oil_2019
Still Life with Tiger Lily
9×12 oil on panel

I always said I would never try oil painting. I think this was because all the materials needed for oil painting made it intimidating and I didn’t know where to start. Although I’m not hanging up my acrylics for good, I think I am starting to fall in love with oils.

Taking a still life painting class is what prompted me to try oils. It was nice having someone to guide me and show me the ropes, and having help streamlined the learning process and made everything seem simpler. 

The one thing I don’t like about oil paints is the drying time. Acrylics dry in about 20 minutes depending on how thick the paint is applied, and my oil paintings take about 5 days to dry to the touch. What this means is that I have to have a place to store them while they are drying, and this also means since I have a small studio that I have to work smaller. I’ve been working on 9×12 panels and I can complete a painting in just a few hours since I’m not a hyper realistic painter. When I work with acrylics I generally work 20×20 or larger. 

IMG-0054
Still Life with Jars & Shell
9×12 oil on panel

Even though I miss working larger, I love the ability to blend easier with oils and I also love the way the final pieces look. Oils have a sheen to them that acrylics don’t have without using varnish. Another thing I like about oils is that they keep their vibrancy when dry; acrylics seem to lose a little bit of the vibrant color after they are dry. With oils, it’s what you see is what you get.

Above all, my favorite thing about oils is how the underneath layers mix with the new layers. When I paint with acrylics, the underneath layer is usually dry by the time I apply the next layer. This makes for more unique color combinations.

My paintings in oil are also just a tad looser than they are in acrylic. For me, that is good since I’m wanting to loosen up more.

There are many benefits to working with oils but if you are wanting a finished painting fast, acrylics would be your choice due to drying time.

Cheers!
Lori

Why I’m Falling in Love with Still Life

I know I seem to be all over the map with my art, and while I am starting to develop a style in my abstracts, still life painting keeps tugging at me. What draws me to still life is that setting up your scene is an art in itself. The possibilities are endless and I think I am most drawn to still lifes that are a bit quirky, meaning the objects in the still life don’t really relate at all. An example of this is this still life painting by Leonid Afremov — a high heel shoe with fruit. Another example is the piece I created in still life class recently, below.  That is what I love about still life — the ability to create unique set ups — essentially creating an imaginary world. I can’t take credit for the setup in the painting below though. My art instructor set that up.

StillLifeFiveObjects

My Dad is currently building a still life setup for me, one that adjusts up and down with a shadow box. I can’t wait until it is finished so I can continue on with my still life painting. Not sure what I will paint first with my setup, but I’m thinking I might use some objects I got from a second hand store. Second hand stores are great for finding interesting objects.

Here is an interesting article and two YouTube videos about still lifes that are awesome.

Setting Up a Successful Still Life

Composition Setting up and Lighting a Still Life for Oil Painting by Stefan Baumann

Composition – Eye Movement and setting up a still life for painting -Alla Prima -Stefan Baumann

~ Lori

Finding My Style – Kaleidoscope Color Bursts

The most difficult part of being an artist has been trying to develop my own unique style, and I think many other artists would agree. Being primarily an abstract artist, it has been difficult to narrow down the endless possibilities of abstraction and focus on a style. My goal is for viewers to recognize my artwork as my own upon seeing my pieces, without seeing my signature. While this is not important to all artists, for me this has been a summit goal.

I think having a signature style will also help me define my audience and customers. For a long time I have been creating both objective and non objective art in various styles. For me I think this has made it difficult to narrow down my audience and focus on a niche market. I’m hoping my recent progress in developing a style will change this.

What has made this journey so painstakingly difficult is that I like so many styles of art, both objective and nonobjective. It was by chance that I started developing this style and totally unplanned. I started working small after reading the book “Daily Painting.” A natural byproduct of working small was being able to develop a style, which took me by surprise and also made me quite happy. Now I think it’s just a matter of finding the right audience for my newfound style — which may take some time since nonrepresentational art isn’t a favorite among the general public.

I hope you enjoy looking at my recent pieces as much as I like creating them. Here are my kaleidoscope color burst paintings in the order I created them.

“Echoes”

“Breathe Deeply”

“Aim High”

“Be Colorful”

“Color Burst”

How I Became an Artist: The Job That Changed My Life

I am a visual artist living in Southwestern Indiana who publishes art related blog posts regularly. Sign up to receive updates from my blog at the bottom of this page. 🙂

I never thought taking a job as the Coordinator of a peer-run recovery center would change the course of my life as it did. I took the Coordinator position in December 2012 and my favorite program at the center was our arts empowerment program, which promoted art as a healing tool. At the center, we helped individuals who struggled with mental health issues, and I, too, struggle with depression.

I began painting in 2009 but took a prolonged break from creating while my daughter was in her infant and toddler years. I picked up a paintbrush again during my employment at the recovery center in 2013, and after two years of not painting, I fell in love, once again, with the creative process and the healing benefits it provides. I continued to paint as much as my time afforded, and in 2014 we held the first “Art of Recovery”, an art show featuring artworks created by individuals in recovery.

A piece of mine that sold in the “Art of Recovery” 2015 show:
“Fragmentations”

fragmentations

While I enjoyed my job, I was also being strongly called in a different direction at the same time — to be an artist. I eventually took the leap of faith in 2016 to pursue art full-time and I have never regretted this decision. Would painting have chosen me otherwise had I not worked there? I know it would have; however, I think the process of becoming an artist was sped up by the nature of my day job. Being surrounded by art and artists was so inspiring. I also say that art chose me rather than I chose art. If you are born to be an artist, art will find you one way or another, sometime during your life.

Art has really saved my life in many ways. When I am creating, it is like time stands still and I enter another dimension – one in which my work and I exist and all my despair and worries disappear. Even when I’m depressed and the thought of picking up a paintbrush sounds like the most tedious task in the world, once I get going, I really do feel somewhat better. My depression doesn’t disappear necessarily, but for the moment in time that I am creating, things don’t seem quite as difficult.

I do find, however, that creating is something I need to do daily, or at least almost daily, to keep the momentum going. Art is like anything else. It is easy to push aside and skip out while your other life responsibilities take precedence. Due to this, I must make sure I stay on some type of art-making schedule.

I believe that everything happens for a reason and I believe one of the reasons I had my job at the recovery center was to help me develop as an artist and find my way a little faster. Who knows where I would be today had I not held that position. I think I’d be an artist of some kind, but I think that job put me on the right path.

Art has helped me so much in life that I try to pass this on to my daughter. My husband and I have her in art classes and I am hoping art will be an outlet for her as it is for me.

If you are an artist who struggles with anxiety, depression, or another issue, I’d love to hear how art has helped you in your journey, and also how you became an artist.

Lori

Follow me on Instagram at www.instagram.com/loririvera.art
Like me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/loririvera.art

 

“The Imaginaries” – daily small charcoal portraits

I am a visual artist living in Southwestern Indiana who publishes art related blog posts regularly. Sign up to receive updates from my blog at the bottom of this page. 😊

blogpost

It’s a new year, and as usual I am trying new things with my art and having a blast. This week I signed up for figure drawing/painting classes at Gamut Gallery as I have no formal training in that area and would like to learn as much as I can. Just in the first class I learned so much. The three portraits above are ones that I have completed since class on Monday and the one below is from class, where we drew from a live model.

laura
Laura, Charcoal, 2019, created in figure drawing class

I’m finding charcoal drawing to be so much fun because it’s so dynamic. The charcoal nearly lifts off the paper so you can change, add, and subtract easily.  Another reason I am quickly starting to love charcoal is that it is extremely portable and great for on-location projects. This morning I went to Starbucks to draw, which is where Chandler was born (the portrait at the top right).

My supplies are minimal and consist of just vine charcoal sticks, a few charcoal pencils for fine details, an eraser, and a sharpener. I mostly just use the charcoal sticks so far though because the thickness of the sticks helps me create looser drawings. I keep all of these supplies in a very small pencil case that is easy to carry around, as shown below.

I never thought I would enjoy drawing so much and this is the first time I’ve ever used charcoal. I will always paint, but I plan to incorporate charcoal drawing into my life via daily (I hope) quick, small drawings. These small 5x7s I can complete in a short enough time that I should be able to finish one each day…or at least on most days, and still have time to paint as well.

I am using reference photos for these drawings but I am calling them “The Imaginaries” because they don’t really exist, not in my world anyway. They aren’t people I know. I’m having fun giving all of them names, too. It feels as if I am giving birth each day to a new character. 🙂

If you are looking for a dynamic and portable drawing medium, try charcoal!

Cheers!
Lori

Follow me on Instagram at www.instagram.com/loririvera.art
Like me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/loririvera.art