Just Show Up

I love the above quote by Brene Brown. This is how I feel about the painting process. When I go for one or more days without spending time in my studio, I feel as though my “flow” has been interrupted. In painting, and in life, I believe that showing up is half the battle. I try to paint daily, but if for some reason I can’t paint, I try to organize and clean my studio instead. Just spending time in my studio is so important.

Having the courage to show up is the biggest, but most important hurdle. Sometimes I might not be in the mood to paint, but if I show up and spend some time in my studio, many times looking at other paintings I’ve finished will inspire me to paint. Sometimes it’s just a matter of taking a painting I’m not totally happy with, and painting over it.

Some of my best ideas come out of simply spending time in the studio. Being in there with no pressure to “produce” allows me to relax and let my mind wander. I have a nice and comfortable couch that I got from a friend, and I love sitting there while looking through reference photos and reading art magazines or books. This is really just as important as the painting process itself. Allowing my brain to soak everything in helps me gear up for my next painting session.

Sometimes I don’t feel inspired to paint at all. When this happens, I don’t wait for inspiration, but rather just go in my studio and start painting. To me, the act of painting is just as important as the end result of a painting. Many times, this is when I pour my emotions onto the canvas. Sometimes when this happens, something beautiful surfaces, and other times, the outcome isn’t so pretty.

Late Night Biscuit & Coffee
12×12 oil on canvas

Another thing I’ve discovered is that if I’m not feeling inspired to paint, that’s a perfect time to paint a still life — where my subject is already decided, and I can focus on improving my technical painting skills rather than relying on my imagination to paint an abstract.

What about you? What are some ways you tackle being uninspired? Do you spend time in your studio sitting, reading, or doing things other than painting?

20 Random Art Facts

It’s been a week or two since I’ve written a blog post. I’ve been painting pretty consistently and below are my last two paintings. I know…I know…a little early for Christmas themed paintings, but I’m trying to get a head start.

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I thought I’d write “20 Random Art Facts About Me” so you can get to know me better as a painter.

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Painting in my studio

  1. My studio is in a room in our house, which means that it’s extremely convenient, but I also get sidetracked sometimes. It’s small but works for now.
  2. I find abstract art to be the most challenging genre to master. Creating something from nothing and out of your head takes special skill.
  3. I’ve been painting since 2009, but painting on a more serious and dedicated level for the past year.
  4. I made it into my first juried exhibit this year.
  5. My favorite color is turquoise.
  6. I was 90% self taught until this year when I took a few still life classes.
  7. I tone my canvas with Burnt Sienna 95% of the time.
  8. When I create abstract art, my process is influenced heavily by the abstract expressionist movement. I’m not really sure what/who influences my still life yet.
  9. I dread cleaning my brushes after I paint. It’s probably what I dislike the most about the painting process.
  10. My favorite surface to work on is hardboard panels.
  11. I have a degree in business, not art, but if I could do college over, I would major in art.
  12. My current favorite subjects to paint is different kinds of fruit and vegetables.
  13. I try to get started painting by 10:00 a.m. on days that I paint.
  14. I listen to all kinds of music when I paint but my favorites are Enya and 80s music.
  15. I’m a late bloomer. I didn’t start painting until I was 34, ten years ago.
  16. I always have something to drink when I paint…coffee, tea, soda.
  17. I believe even the most masterful artists need to continue learning. Painting is a never ending journey.
  18. I hope to start plein air painting next spring.
  19. I sit down when I paint still life but stand up when painting abstracts. My whole body gets a little workout when I paint abstracts. That’s when I can get the most energy into a piece.
  20. My studio is usually messy!

I would love to get to know you too. Feel free to leave a comment with random things about you.

Lori

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.
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  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?
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  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.
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  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.
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  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