About Lori, abstract art

Welcome, new followers

Periodically I write a post like this one to welcome new followers and introduce myself again. I started painting in 2009, but didn’t start painting seriously until around 2018. I live in Evansville, Indiana with my husband, Mike, our 9-year old daughter, Autumn, and our two cats, Vincent Van Gogh and Mr. Wallace. When I first began painting, I was self-taught and painted things like flowers, trees, and abstracts on occasion. Then I went back to work in 2012 and being surrounded by artists on an almost daily basis reawakened my interest in becoming a full-time artist. In 2018, I left the regular 8-5 work world.

I took still life painting classes last year and learned techniques I now apply to my abstracts. Nowadays, I have decided to narrow my focus solely to abstract work, and growing as an abstract artist. I paint for many reasons, including to improve my mental health and to satisfy my primal need as a human being to create.

Twenty random facts (updated) about my art-making:

  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. Creating something from nothing and out of your head that also looks nice compositionally is challenging.
  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 last year.
  5. My favorite color is turquoise.
  6. I was around 90% self taught until last year when I took a few still life classes.
  7. I tone my canvas with burnt sienna and gray 95% of the time.
  8. When I create abstract art, my process is influenced heavily by the abstract expressionist movement.
  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 canvas when I paint with acrylic.
  11. I have a degree in business, not art, but if I could do college over, I would major in art. With that being said, my business degree has also been invaluable to my art career.
  12. I paint intuitively with no predetermined plan.
  13. I am homeschooling my daughter this year, so I mostly paint in the evenings and on weekends.
  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, eleven 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 more with my artist friends.
  19. I 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!

So now it’s your turn. I’d love to know more about you. 🙂

Artist Tips, inspiration

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 Biscotti & 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?

Artist Tips

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

Artist Tips

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.
    finelinetipapp
  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?
    goldenpaints
  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.
    art
  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.
    echo
  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

art studio

Moving My Sacred Space | Things Learned in the Shudio

I used to have my studio in the back room of the house. I painted there faithfully for several years until one day I was in the shed and had a brilliant idea. I thought, WOW, this space could be transformed into an art studio. We renovated the small space with heat/air, insulation/drywall, and updated electric. Now, a little over two years later, I am moving back to my old studio inside the house and we will use the shudio (shed studio) for something else.

It wasn’t a cheap endeavor converting the shed to a studio, although it was well worth it while the space remained my studio and for future uses. It is a usable space for storage or whatever we decide to use it for now.

Over the past couple years in that space, I learned how to paint with very little water since I didn’t have a sink/plumbing. It was actually a good experience and revolutionized the way I paint. Since I couldn’t change my water often, I usually just wiped my brush off with a paper towel when changing colors. This meant that part of the last color I used got mixed in with the new color, which also meant I was mixing my colors out of necessity rather than intentionally. That turned out to be a good thing. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to rinsing out my brush before every color change again. A thing of the past! My colors turn out much more unique and don’t look quite as flat painting this way.

I also learned how to utilize a small space. I painted directly on the wall instead of using an easel to save on space. I simply placed two screws on the wall level with each other and hung the canvases on those. I also placed peg board on the wall to hang my paints, even though my paints were usually strung out all over the place. You can see my peg board below. I must have just organized when I took this picture, because I’m normally not an organized painter.

paints

I’ve often thought I’d like studio space away from the home. While my shudio wasn’t away from the home necessarily, I did have to physically go outside and walk about 20 feet to the space. There were things I liked and didn’t like about this. On the positive side, it felt like a sacred space…one that I could escape to and be away from everything else. This allowed me to focus, which I have a hard time doing sometimes!

On the downside, even though it was a very short walk, I didn’t enjoy going to and from the house when I needed something in the cold weather. I also didn’t enjoy being out there in the middle of the night if I was up late painting.

Overall, I am really looking forward to moving back in the house. We painted the walls a light grey yesterday. I love the cool grey color and here is how they look.

studio1

You’ll notice there is a treadmill in the above photo. Yes, our treadmill will be in my studio too! At first I was disappointed that I had to compromise with my husband and share space with the treadmill, but the more I think about it, the more I like the idea. I hope to hop on the treadmill often while I am painting in between little sessions. It will be good to clear my mind and get some exercise. Body, mind, and soul work! And boy do I need the exercise!

I will post more photos and share more once I move into my new space. I am so excited for a change of scenery. And here is my piece I created today in the shudio…perhaps my last shudio piece of work!

jacks
Jacks  20×20 acrylic on canvas

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Cheers!
Lori