In the Studio with Lori VanEtta
I have made art since I was little. It is hard to say how it started. No matter what other things I have done from teaching, to rowing, and traveling the world, art has been a constant. It is my home base. It is me. Art is what I notice. While watching movies, I am looking at the paintings and sculptures in the background.
When I create, I feel calm and focused. I have always had a strong, compelling need to create. I love to make something substantial that was not in the world before. I have created jewelry, thrown pots, made stained glass windows, sewn crazy clothes. I am staying with painting for a while so that I can improve that skill.
Paintings often surprise me because the art takes on a life of its own, directing my hands. I look at my old paintings and wonder where they came from. It is somewhat like looking at a 30-year-old photograph of yourself. It is part of you, but not the current you.
Art also satisfies my need for variety and novelty. One cannot be bored while painting because there is always something new to try. There is always another artist to inspire me. I marvel at the talent out there.
We can all make art with about any tool. What is important is the ability to silence the inner critic, trust your intuition and be able to analyze what you see. After that, it all amounts to massive hours of practice. One must persevere and love the process.
Music is especially important to me while I am painting because it takes me out of my critical space and into the having fun mode. I can paint without music, but music frees me.
The hardest part of the process for me is to stop painting so that layers can dry. I want to keep going, which can lead to lack of objectivity about the composition or overworking something that is simple and beautiful. Lately, I have worked on several paintings at a time so that I can satisfy this urge to continue.
I am also not a big fan of self-promotion. I forget to even post online or to contact galleries. I know that I need to work on this, but I just want to paint! I started painting late in life because I was a full-time elementary teacher for 35 years. Teaching well takes all of your energy. Now I teach art part time to adults with dementia issues and to children in Bellingham schools. I love doing both and I have the energy to experiment and create.
It is difficult to choose a favorite part because I love it all. I love mixing new colors, trying new techniques, completely changing an underlayer, framing a finished piece, sharing my art with people. I like listening to others while they look at my paintings. Everyone sees something different because everyone has a different history. Many people have told me that my paintings make them feel happy. That makes me extremely happy.