Failing Beautifully

I have approximately 200 finished paintings in our home and my studio, and this number does not include the 200-300 I’ve painted over or sent to the trash because I wasn’t happy with them. Very rarely do I paint over a painting I don’t like anymore, and that’s because I’ve improved over time. I also plan to hang on to most of these paintings because many aren’t representative of my current work. But what does all of this really mean?

I was talking to a friend today who started painting a few years ago and she said that she wasn’t confident enough to put her art out there yet. I assured her that it would come in time and that in the beginning, for every 100 paintings I created, only about 5-10 were good. Maybe not even good, maybe more like just decent. I’ve been painting since 2009, but for the first seven years, I was painting very rarely because I was working and at home raising our daughter. I figure since 2009 I’ve averaged at least seven hours of painting time each week, and that number is underestimated I’m sure.

My point is that that equals over 3,500 hours and without all that practice and all of the failures, I wouldn’t be where I am today. For every failure, I have found yet one more way not to do something. I see failure as a measurement of effort; If I never fail, that means I am not experimenting and stretching myself to the limits. I truly believe you aren’t growing if you’re not failing at times, too.

I don’t like it when people ask me how long it took me to paint something, because really, the true answer is that it took me 3,500+ hours to create it! In art, all of your experience — all of the cumulative failures and successes — are what allow you to create what you create today.

Even though I’m a better painter now than 10 years ago, I do still produce bad paintings sometimes, and as weird as it may sound, I’m proud of them because it means I am pushing myself, as not every new technique I try is going to work out – as is the case with my “NOPE” painting above!

So practice as much as you can, fail beautifully, and revel in your eventual successes. If you fail enough, you will succeed!

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Book: #1 New Release

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. 

paintnaturally

I have wanted to write a book since I was in my early 20s. I always thought I would write a book about living with a mental health issue. Instead, I wrote a book about art — a beginner acrylic painting abstract art book.

My book is helping people, but in a different way. I am not an art therapist, but I do find art to be therapeutic and I enjoy sharing my love of art with others for that reason.  Painting is one of my favorite wellness tools.

You can purchase my book from Amazon in both Kindle and paperback versions. Right now my book is the #1 New Release in the “Craft and Hobby Painting” category. In the book you will find eight step-by-step paintings you can follow or use as inspiration. I also discuss supplies, share a painting challenge, and share abstract art tips.

I had so much fun documenting my work for this book and creating the written sections too. I’m looking forward to begin working on my second book and I’m tossing around a couple ideas in my head.

Cheers!
Lori

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100 Paintings in 100 Days

I started a project yesterday, Sept 6, 2019. I am creating 100 paintings in 100 days! I am painting abstractly and intuitively on 8×8 140 lb. watercolor paper. These are so much fun to create. My next one will be #5 and I think there’s a good chance I will finish the project before the deadline of December 14, 2019. I found a good place to get my custom mats for these pieces. Mat Boards and More (https://www.matboardandmore.com) might be where I get them.

I am trying to be playful and loose with these pieces. They are supposed to be fun rather than serious. These small paintings will also help me refine my abstract painting as I will get a lot of practice with defining my focal point in each piece. This series will help me improve in creating good compositions.

I believe abstract pieces are the most difficult to create compositionally and with color. I’ve heard people say “My 7-year-old could do that.” Or things like “I could do that.” That is so frustrating as abstract painting is harder than it looks.

I will not be creating prints of these pieces; I am just going to sell the originals.

Follow me on facebook (www.facebook.com/loririvera.art) if you’d like to see the pieces as I create them. You can also follow me on instagram @ www.instagram.com/loririvera.art. I will also be posting each piece to my 100 Paintings in 100 Days page on my website. Feel free to bookmark the page.

Thank you for following me on my blog!

Cheers!

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”

Has Visual Art Ever Made You Cry?

No. 61 (Rust and Blue) by Mark Rothko
By Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=23217157
No. 61 (Rust and Blue) by Mark Rothko

I am an acrylic painter 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 was in deep thought while traveling today, husband asleep in the passenger seat, daughter watching a movie in the back seat. “River of Dreams” by Hayley Westenra started playing and almost immediately brought me to tears, as always, and as more than one of her songs can accomplish when I listen. The tempo, the notes, the rhythm, pretty much everything about the song moves me to cry every time. Then it occurred to me that a painting has never moved me to shed tears, or any piece of 2D art for that matter, which is ironic since I’m a painter. I am often very moved by paintings, but not to the point of crying.

Mark Rothko’s massive color field paintings, as shown above, have been known to move people to the point of tears.  I’ve experienced a pretty wide range of emotions from viewing visual art, but have cried only once, which was precipitated by a piece sculpted by a Central European artist. I didn’t even see it in person either, but simply saw a photo of it online.

Since I love communicating visually through the arts, why is it that I haven’t cried over more than one piece of visual artwork? Furthermore, why haven’t I been compelled, until now really, to create work that moves others in that same way?

The musical arts, literary arts, and performing arts can evoke sadness in me much more easily than the visual arts, probably due to the static nature of most visual art. I’ve been in the car crying over a sad song and flooded with tears on my face from watching a ballet or another form of dance countless times, and I wish I could say paintings have brought me to tears, but they have not. I’ve even had my share of visiting large museums in many cities, too, including Boston, New York City, and Chicago, and  I’ve seen some pretty major and historical paintings in person.

If you’ve ever cried as a result of viewing art, was it a 2D or 3D piece? Was it the sheer size of the piece, the colors, the content, the subject, or the movement of the piece that brought you to tears? Was it because it struck a personal chord with you? I would love to hear how art moves you and about what piece(s) have made you cry.

After thinking about this and having a meaningful conversation with my husband today about this subject, it is now my career life’s quest to create a painting (or more) that can make people cry. I say “life quest” because who knows, it may take a lifetime, if it ever happens at all. But before that, I am hoping to find a painting that can move me to the point of crying just as the European artist’s sculpture.

Cheers!
Lori

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Why the Switch to Objective Art?

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You may have wondered if I’ve lost it in the past week. The answer is no; I still have all my marbles…all my faculties. But yes, I have always said nonrepresentational art is my thing and I would never switch to creating objective art.

It all started with my florals, and just like when I take a break from a painting and come back to it a day, week, or even a month later, I am then able to view it with fresh eyes and solve problems I couldn’t solve before. The same applies when you are looking for something you’ve lost. You may look for hours, only to find that if you take an hour break and then come back, you almost instantly find your lost item. Sometimes we need change in our life…in our art, an even bigger change than simply taking a break and stepping away. Sometimes we need a change of pace, and mine happens to be abandoning my nonrepresentational pieces for, well, I’m not sure how long.

I was starting to feel stuck — really stuck! I recently wrote a blog post on getting through a creative block, but I think the one thing I left out is to try a different style of art, so that’s my current detour on my journey. I’m hoping when I return to some nonobjective paintings, I’ll hit the ground running with some new knowledge learned from painting pieces of recognizable objects.

I guess this is a good time to also mention that I don’t think either type of art is better than the other. But, for a long time my preference was simply to paint abstractly…as a matter of fact, for a long time I would say in regards to my own paintings, “the more abstract, the better.” I have an appreciation for both types of art (objective and nonobjective), but I do think they usually serve different purposes.

As I’ve mentioned before, I am not a classically trained artist, other than art classes in middle/high school. With that, I felt like I needed another boost so I signed up for still life painting classes, and hopefully figure painting classes in the future as well. It never hurts to have others teach you some tips and tricks in your journey and make sure you are grounded in the basics. Sometimes, even for experienced painters, it’s good to start at square one again.

So to that…try something new today! 😊

Cheers!
Lori

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Unblocked! – Overcoming Creative Blocks

If you are an artist, you have most likely experienced a creative block at one point or another and it is so frustrating! Or you may be working on a project that is not turning out the way you would like. In either case, I sat down today and came up with 10 things that help me when I am experiencing a block, and these may help you too. I’d love to hear from you if you try any of these, or if you have tried them already. Let me know if they work for you!

  1. Try a new art supply – Simply purchasing a new art supply can change up your creative process enough to get your ideas flowing again. When I purchased my fine line applicators, I found creating fine lines added a little interest and broke the monotony of my process. I guess it is worth mentioning here, too, that as artists, we have the tendency to get bored, and that means we can even get bored with our supplies. Short on money and can’t buy any new supplies? Alternatively, you can look around the house to see what kind of texture makers you can find. A fork, comb, caps…all can create interesting textures in your work.
    finelinetipapp
  2. Change mediums – If you are an acrylic painter, for example, try oil or watercolor for a while, or even add a medium such as modeling paste to create texture in your work. Sometimes simply changing mediums will open new doors with your style and techniques, and sometimes we just need a change of pace. After working with a different medium for a bit, eventually go back to your primary medium and see if anything has changed. Do you feel refreshed? Do you have new ideas?
    goldenpaints
  3. Change supports – One of my favorite things to try when things are not going as planned or if I am experiencing a block is to change the surface I am working with. I often change over to paper for a while after working on canvas for some time. Once again, it is a good change of pace. Not only that, doing the same thing on canvas and paper will often yield different results due to things like texture of the support. Any factor changed will often change your results, whether changing mediums as described above, or supports.
  4. Try a new activity – Sometimes it is good to clear our minds from what we are used to, break away and try something else. If you are a painter, try pottery, and if you are a sculptor, try drawing, and so on. This allows you to see things, such as shapes and colors, in a new light. Have you ever tried making your own pottery, then painting your pottery on canvas as still life? Even if you are not a skilled potter, try abstracting what you see in your pottery and paint that. This is just one example. Once again, changing an element of what we are doing changes the rhythm of creative flow, and then when we return to our primary medium, new ground can be broken with fresh eyes.
  5. Look at other art – I am deeply inspired by looking at other art. Seeing other color palettes, textures, and compositions, among other things, opens doors and paves new pathways for creativity. We can be inspired by other work without copying the work. In other words, all works of art are usually inspired by something else before they ever began. Art is not created out of thin air; there is usually always something that prompts the beginning of a new work of art.
    art
  6. Rework an old piece – Some of my favorite pieces end up being old pieces that I paint over. Let’s face it, we have some pieces we like more than others. Sometimes I take some of my least liked pieces and paint over them, allowing some of the underneath layers to peek through. That combined with the textures of the first few layers help build an interesting piece. When reworking an old piece, you are not starting from scratch, which changes up the whole creative process.
  7. Change your surroundings – Painting in a different room, changing your music, painting outside instead of inside — all of these things can help you break out and overcome your creative block. I remember having a breakthrough when I painted at our table while the new roof on my studio was being added. It is amazing how changing the slightest thing can alter our brain activity and help us create. Below is a photo of my beloved Amazon Echo. Love that thing! I often find that changing the genre of music changes the way I paint.
    echo
  8. Organize – If you are like me, your studio is often messy, and simply organizing your space can make you feel refreshed and ready to create again.
  9. Scribble – Have you ever just scribbled with crayons, paints, markers, pencils, or another medium? Of course we have all done that as children. But have you really tried it as an adult? Just let loose and free your mind. Scribble for fifteen minutes then go back to your work. While scribbling is not likely to turn into a masterpiece, it can get your mind unblocked since you are working like a child instead of an adult. Children are highly creative so try being one again for a bit! Children aren’t afraid to create and they don’t judge themselves the way we do as adults. So just try being a kid again.
  10. Take a break! – Give the creative side of your brain a break and cozy up in a hammock, make some hot cocoa and watch a movie with a warm blanket, or meditate. Rejuvenate, then return to your work later.

 

Hope these give you some ideas to try. As always, leave me a note if you liked this post, or if one of these help you get unblocked!

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Cheers!
Lori

Moving My Sacred Space | Things Learned in the Shudio

I used to have my studio in the back room of the house. I painted there faithfully for several years until one day I was in the shed and had a brilliant idea. I thought, WOW, this space could be transformed into an art studio. We renovated the small space with heat/air, insulation/drywall, and updated electric. Now, a little over two years later, I am moving back to my old studio inside the house and we will use the shudio (shed studio) for something else.

It wasn’t a cheap endeavor converting the shed to a studio, although it was well worth it while the space remained my studio and for future uses. It is a usable space for storage or whatever we decide to use it for now.

Over the past couple years in that space, I learned how to paint with very little water since I didn’t have a sink/plumbing. It was actually a good experience and revolutionized the way I paint. Since I couldn’t change my water often, I usually just wiped my brush off with a paper towel when changing colors. This meant that part of the last color I used got mixed in with the new color, which also meant I was mixing my colors out of necessity rather than intentionally. That turned out to be a good thing. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to rinsing out my brush before every color change again. A thing of the past! My colors turn out much more unique and don’t look quite as flat painting this way.

I also learned how to utilize a small space. I painted directly on the wall instead of using an easel to save on space. I simply placed two screws on the wall level with each other and hung the canvases on those. I also placed peg board on the wall to hang my paints, even though my paints were usually strung out all over the place. You can see my peg board below. I must have just organized when I took this picture, because I’m normally not an organized painter.

paints

I’ve often thought I’d like studio space away from the home. While my shudio wasn’t away from the home necessarily, I did have to physically go outside and walk about 20 feet to the space. There were things I liked and didn’t like about this. On the positive side, it felt like a sacred space…one that I could escape to and be away from everything else. This allowed me to focus, which I have a hard time doing sometimes!

On the downside, even though it was a very short walk, I didn’t enjoy going to and from the house when I needed something in the cold weather. I also didn’t enjoy being out there in the middle of the night if I was up late painting.

Overall, I am really looking forward to moving back in the house. We painted the walls a light grey yesterday. I love the cool grey color and here is how they look.

studio1

You’ll notice there is a treadmill in the above photo. Yes, our treadmill will be in my studio too! At first I was disappointed that I had to compromise with my husband and share space with the treadmill, but the more I think about it, the more I like the idea. I hope to hop on the treadmill often while I am painting in between little sessions. It will be good to clear my mind and get some exercise. Body, mind, and soul work! And boy do I need the exercise!

I will post more photos and share more once I move into my new space. I am so excited for a change of scenery. And here is my piece I created today in the shudio…perhaps my last shudio piece of work!

jacks
Jacks  20×20 acrylic on canvas

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Cheers!
Lori