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.” 🤣

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

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!

 

 

 

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?

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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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

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

Painting My Way Through Anxiety

IMG-1104“Pepper Medley” 2019
9×12 oil on canvas panel

They say that depression is when you dwell on the past and anxiety is when you worry about the future. If you struggle with either of these, or even stress, painting can help you manage your symptoms.

My anxiety has been terrible lately…worrying about anything and everything…things that may or may not happen. All the time I spend worrying could be spent so much more productively, and I’m happy to say last week and yesterday I was more productive. I’ve painted three pieces in the past week and when I was painting I noticed something. I wasn’t worrying at all. It’s as if my anxiety disappeared for those several hours, and my anxiety also seemed to be at bay for some time after I was done painting. It’s like painting resets my brain.

I’ve been painting for years and I’ve never noticed the healing power of art as much as I have in the past week. I don’t know if it’s because I’m dealing with anxiety instead of depression for a change or if it’s because my anxiety has been so terrible. Or maybe I just simply noticed something I haven’t paid attention to in the past.

All I know is that I think this is my newfound motivation for staying on a painting schedule. The fact that I can dwindle away my anxiety to nothing is a big motivator!

Painting has always helped relax me, especially when I’m stressed. But what has happened over the last week is just amazing to me. If you are struggling, give painting a try. It may prove to help you too.

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