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?

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

 

“The Imaginaries” – daily small charcoal portraits

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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It’s a new year, and as usual I am trying new things with my art and having a blast. This week I signed up for figure drawing/painting classes at Gamut Gallery as I have no formal training in that area and would like to learn as much as I can. Just in the first class I learned so much. The three portraits above are ones that I have completed since class on Monday and the one below is from class, where we drew from a live model.

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Laura, Charcoal, 2019, created in figure drawing class

I’m finding charcoal drawing to be so much fun because it’s so dynamic. The charcoal nearly lifts off the paper so you can change, add, and subtract easily.  Another reason I am quickly starting to love charcoal is that it is extremely portable and great for on-location projects. This morning I went to Starbucks to draw, which is where Chandler was born (the portrait at the top right).

My supplies are minimal and consist of just vine charcoal sticks, a few charcoal pencils for fine details, an eraser, and a sharpener. I mostly just use the charcoal sticks so far though because the thickness of the sticks helps me create looser drawings. I keep all of these supplies in a very small pencil case that is easy to carry around, as shown below.

I never thought I would enjoy drawing so much and this is the first time I’ve ever used charcoal. I will always paint, but I plan to incorporate charcoal drawing into my life via daily (I hope) quick, small drawings. These small 5x7s I can complete in a short enough time that I should be able to finish one each day…or at least on most days, and still have time to paint as well.

I am using reference photos for these drawings but I am calling them “The Imaginaries” because they don’t really exist, not in my world anyway. They aren’t people I know. I’m having fun giving all of them names, too. It feels as if I am giving birth each day to a new character. 🙂

If you are looking for a dynamic and portable drawing medium, try charcoal!

Cheers!
Lori

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