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

Painting Authentically in 2020

I have done a lot of soul searching since the new year trying to decide what I really want my art to communicate. Last year I did a lot of experimenting, both with still life and portraits, and took several classes of each. I learned a great deal about light, shadow, composition, and form. After my experimental year, I am coming around 360, back to my intuitive abstracts, and applying what I’ve learned.

It seems I keep returning to the same thing — sharing my inner world with others, my emotions serving as the fuel for the painting. The majority of my work consists of intuitive abstracts, which means they are created based on how I am feeling, with one brush stroke guiding the next. I never plan my abstracts, but instead I let the story unfold stroke by stroke. You can interpret them however you wish. There is not right or wrong, and my work will speak to everyone differently.

I’m sure I will still occasionally create my funky portraits and still life, but I am really being drawn to emotion-driven painting. I am drawn to so many different genres.

To be honest, sometimes my intuitive paintings aren’t very pretty. I find that when I’m not feeling as well, the colors may be drab, and the overall feel of the paintings are just very dark.

Above is a darker painting on the left and a brighter one on the right. The one on the right feels joyous, and the one on the left is more muted as if I was feeling sorrowful while creating it. I think even my darker paintings have an energy about them though.

To paint in a raw, emotional way is so therapeutic for me, and above all else, I paint for myself. While I don’t share all of my paintings, this may change. I’m thinking about sharing most of them, even the darker ones. I think I have a natural tendency to gravitate toward brighter colors when I am painting though.

Here are two more of my intuitive abstracts. The one on the left is bright, yet is framed on the edges with black paint. I remember this one so well. “Burning the Midnight Oil” (left) was created near midnight and I was up late painting. I was working a part time-job and was finding it hard to find time to paint. Can you guess what my mood was when painting this piece? The one on the right, “Eat Your Veggies,” (right) I created this year, and I think it is a fun piece.

So…I hope to share many intuitive abstracts this year with you. Not all will necessarily be beautiful, but I can guarantee they will be authentic!

 

 

 

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

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. 🙂

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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. 

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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