Self Portrait Creativity Challenge

By nature, I am more of an abstract painter, one who relies on intuition rather than being influenced by the world around me. However, last year I took a few still life painting and figure drawing classes with the very talented Holly Storlie at Gamut Gallery. I just felt like I needed that extra boost, and I don’t think I could have executed this painting last night without Holly’s guidance from last year in class.

The Arts Council of Southwestern Indiana promoted a Self Portrait Creativity Challenge this week and I painted mine late last night. I spent more time on this portrait than any other one I’ve ever painted. To get better at portraits, I plan to paint a self portrait every month for the rest of this year. I may also paint portraits of others in addition to my monthly self portrait.

Really the only part of this painting I’m not happy with is my nose. It appears flat and I’m sure I can fix it with more shadows and highlights. I reworked it a couple times already and I’m still not happy with it so I think I’m going to grab a canvas panel tonight and paint my nose however many times it takes to get it right. Then I’ll copy the same technique of the best one onto my self portrait.

I would love to hear from others who paint portraits and how you gained some mastery in creating them. For me it’s practice, practice, practice from here on out!

Cheers!

P.S. And maybe I should change the title of this one from “Self Portrait 2020-2” to “I Hate Painting Noses.” 🤣

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!

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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!

 

 

 

Book: #1 New Release

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. 

paintnaturally

I have wanted to write a book since I was in my early 20s. I always thought I would write a book about living with a mental health issue. Instead, I wrote a book about art — a beginner acrylic painting abstract art book.

My book is helping people, but in a different way. I am not an art therapist, but I do find art to be therapeutic and I enjoy sharing my love of art with others for that reason.  Painting is one of my favorite wellness tools.

You can purchase my book from Amazon in both Kindle and paperback versions. Right now my book is the #1 New Release in the “Craft and Hobby Painting” category. In the book you will find eight step-by-step paintings you can follow or use as inspiration. I also discuss supplies, share a painting challenge, and share abstract art tips.

I had so much fun documenting my work for this book and creating the written sections too. I’m looking forward to begin working on my second book and I’m tossing around a couple ideas in my head.

Cheers!
Lori

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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

gooddayIt’s Gonna Be a Good Day
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. 🙂

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. 

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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

Why I’m Falling in Love with Still Life

I know I seem to be all over the map with my art, and while I am starting to develop a style in my abstracts, still life painting keeps tugging at me. What draws me to still life is that setting up your scene is an art in itself. The possibilities are endless and I think I am most drawn to still lifes that are a bit quirky, meaning the objects in the still life don’t really relate at all. An example of this is this still life painting by Leonid Afremov — a high heel shoe with fruit. Another example is the piece I created in still life class recently, below.  That is what I love about still life — the ability to create unique set ups — essentially creating an imaginary world. I can’t take credit for the setup in the painting below though. My art instructor set that up.

StillLifeFiveObjects

My Dad is currently building a still life setup for me, one that adjusts up and down with a shadow box. I can’t wait until it is finished so I can continue on with my still life painting. Not sure what I will paint first with my setup, but I’m thinking I might use some objects I got from a second hand store. Second hand stores are great for finding interesting objects.

Here is an interesting article and two YouTube videos about still lifes that are awesome.

Setting Up a Successful Still Life

Composition Setting up and Lighting a Still Life for Oil Painting by Stefan Baumann

Composition – Eye Movement and setting up a still life for painting -Alla Prima -Stefan Baumann

~ Lori