Online Abstract Acrylic Painting Workshop

How is everyone doing during this difficult time in our world? We are faring well here so far. We haven’t left our house at all in the last few days except for a drive in the car. Let’s just hope the dire situation in the world improves soon!

With the state of the world, is it time for you to take up a new hobby? If so, join us by painting along in this beginner abstract acrylic workshop. My daughter and I recorded our first video today, which explains what supplies you will need. She is my “cutie patootie” assistant and will be helping me with some of the videos.

I thought this was perfect timing for an online workshop, which will be completely unscripted and impromptu! We are just going to go with the flow and tap into our creativity.

Painting has been a lifesaver for me as I struggle with depression and anxiety periodically. Art is really a form of meditation and it is so helpful for my emotional state. I hope you will get as much joy out of painting as I do. Just have fun with it; Don’t put too much pressure on yourself and just have fun!

This is a free workshop, however, if you’d like, feel free to donate via PayPal to loririveraart@gmail.com.

Hope you enjoy this video and I expect the first “painting” video to go live within a few days from now. The supplies you need and links to buy them are in the description of the video. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below or email me at loririveraart@gmail.com.

Stay home. Be safe. Tune in. ❤

Until next time….

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

Top Five Tips for Beginning Artists

I am a visual artist living in Southwestern Indiana who publishes art related blog posts. Sign up to receive updates from my blog at the bottom of this page, and don’t forget to follow me on Facebook and Instagram under @loririvera.art.

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I thought it would be fun to look back and see what my first post was on my Facebook art page. If you scroll through my photos, you’ll see that the first one was the left one above. To make sure I was comparing apples to apples (or as close as I could get), I took the one on the right that I created this year that is close to the size of the one from 2015, and is also abstract. I am happy with my progress and I can’t wait to see how much further I get by 2025!

Most importantly, though, is how I’ve arrived to where I am today. I am going to share what I think were the five most important things that got me from the 2015 painting to the 2020 painting above.

  1. Create art daily. Even if it’s just for a half an hour, that is better than nothing. When you do this, you are exercising your creative and technical muscles in your brain — or at least — that’s what I believe. On days you absolutely cannot make it to your studio/creative space to create, spend some time in that space meditating, cleaning, organizing, reading art books, or whatever you can do to stimulate your brain.
  2. Don’t compare your work to others’ work. Instead, compare your current work to your previous work. Every few months or every year, revisit some of your older work and see how far you’ve come. This is a difficult one, but it’s imperative, because when you compare yourself to other artists, it’s not fair to you or them. You might love their work, but they might have started their craft way before you. Not only that, I do think artists progress at different rates. Some artists pick things up faster than others, but there’s nothing wrong with that either. There’s no wrong way to make progress in art. It is an individualized journey and everyone’s path is unique!
  3. Set SMART Goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time Oriented. For example, a SMART goal would NOT be “to paint more,” but instead “To create 100 paintings by the end of the year.” I only used 100 because that was one of my goals last year, and according to my records, I painted over 115 paintings last year. Are all of them big paintings? No. Are all of them good paintings. No. But did I paint some pieces that I am proud of. Yes! Not every painting will necessarily be your best.  I am a firm believer in setting SMART goals because those are the only ones you can truly measure. More sample goals include:
    • Participate in three art festivals by the end of the year.
    • Create a website to showcase my work by the end of the month.
    • Attain gallery representation with at least one gallery by the end of the year.
  4. Find at least one supporter of your work to give you honest feedback. Hopefully this person will be someone who can be honest about where you can improve, and what you are doing that is going well. For me, my family is my first filter, naturally I think because I talk to them daily. My husband will almost always have something positive to say about a work of mine, but also give me an honest critique and tell me what he thinks needs work.
  5. Take a class. Don’t be afraid to take a class…any kind of class. It could be drawing, painting, ceramics, or anything else you want more help with. I do believe that any kind of formalized art training will help you along the way. I say this because I have taken classes with a few artists. Even if you are a professional artist, there are always things we can learn from each other.  I really had to step outside of my comfort zone to take classes, as I had never really painted in front of anyone. At first it is really uncomfortable, but the more you do it, the easier it gets.

Now that I’ve shared my top five things that helped me get to where I am today, I’d love to hear from you. What has helped you in your craft?

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

Getting Inspired Again

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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

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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 was 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?

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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?

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Communicating Feeling Through Art

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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. 🙂

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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