Artist Tips

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!

Follow me on Instagram and Facebook @loririvera.art

Artist Tips

Artist Tip: Mounting Watercolor Paper

IMG-4320

Looking for a unique and low cost way to display your acrylic paintings on watercolor paper? Recently, I’ve been working with acrylic on watercolor paper and needed a quick and easy way to get them ready to hang in a show. I love what I came up with; I think they look professional, especially for how little it dinged my pocketbook.

Both of these paintings are on 8 x 8 watercolor paper and I bought a four pack of 10 x 10 cradled unfinished wood panels. They were only $16.04 with my 40% off coupon at Michaels, which made them $4.01 each. I purchased wood that was two inches larger than my paper all around to give the illusion of a 1″ thick frame.

First I painted three coats of white gesso on the front and the sides of the wood, and I left the back unfinished. After the last coat was completely dry, I applied Liquitex Gel Medium with a foam brush to the front of the wood, then laid down the painting and tried to center it as much as possible. Then I pushed down all over the paper with my hands to make sure it was sticking in all places of the paper to the wood. If you have a brayer or a rolling pen, you could also use one of those. I pushed down on the paper for about three minutes.

IMG-4362

I waited a few hours for the gel medium to dry enough so that I could wire the back. The cradled boards are perfect for two eye hooks and picture hanging wire. The last step was varnishing the painting. I took a soft cloth and added a small amount of Gamvar varnish to it and applied it lightly to the painting. It gave it a nice sheen.

I am so excited about this way of displaying my small paper paintings. If you try this, let me know how it goes and how you like the end result!

IMG_4360

Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook (www.facebook.com/loririvera.art) and Instagram (www.instagram.com/loririvera.art).

abstract art

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

Evolution

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

Uncategorized

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

Uncategorized

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”

still life

Why the Switch to Objective Art?

20181220_133446

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

Follow me on Instagram at http://www.instagram.com/loririvera.art

Like my page on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/loririvera.art

art studio

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

Follow me on Instagram at http://www.instagram.com/loririvera.art and Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/loririvera.art

Cheers!
Lori