Artist Lori Lebel talks about her process of making art.
The Winter of 2016 was a tough one. I wasn’t ready for the cold, the snow, and the early darkness. And I didn’t have my typical excitement for the holidays, and much of this was because my dad had passed a week before Christmas. It was a struggle to get through each day let alone 4 more months of New England winter.
I have been painting since I was 11, starting briefly in watercolor, moving on to acrylic, and then to oil, which quickly became my favorite medium. I was a Bob Ross enthusiast and watched his shows faithfully, often following along or creating art based on his paintings. When my parents bought our first house, the basement had a little kitchenette, and when not in use during parties we turned it into my art room. It was a little dark, but it was so exciting to have my own space to keep my easel and supplies. I would go downstairs, put on the radio or put a tape in my cassette player and get to creating.
When I turned 13, my dad, always encouraging in my art, had an idea to bring my paintings to work. His bosses decided to hang them in the administrative hallway and soon I was given an award for young achievers. I also sold my first couple of pieces.
I continued to paint (and sell) for a few more years until I turned 17, we moved and I started working full time. Time got away from me- I got married in my mid 20’s and had kids right away, and the brushes and paints were set aside for 15 years to raise my children.
It took Dad’s passing and that long, dreadful winter for me to pull them back out.
I began painting my typical landscapes, but at this point in life I was working a side job as a band manager for a few musicians and music was a huge part of my life. I had this idea one day to try my hand at portraits again (they had always been the hardest to paint for me so I rarely ever did). In color, I couldn’t make a painting I was happy enough with to share with others. I sat down, frustrated but determined to paint a couple of my favorite musicians for my own wall, and began to play with photos in various phone apps. After what felt like hours I found what I was looking for… it was a black and white portrait. I got to work sketching, then painting, and when it was done I was fairly pleased. John Mayer was my first of what I call my “Icon Series”. I then painted two more musicians I was a big fan of and planned on hanging them in my room. Before I hung them I took a photo and posted them online, and immediately I got two orders for other musicians. After completing those, I painted a few more and took them to an art show where a couple sold, and then received another order from a friend as a gift to her husband. From then on, the ball just kept rolling and picking up speed.
I find I enjoy making these paintings; I listen to the music of the artist I am creating, they helped me through a very dark time in my life, and they bring in some extra income. Today, they are taking my art business to the next level and I currently have pieces from my Icon Series on display in two galleries. I have a couple of local bars requesting art, I am fulfilling orders on a regular basis, and I have five large art shows booked for 2022. This year I have decided to venture into different sizes for these pieces, as well. Previously, my black and whites were on 16×20 canvas. I now offer 4”x4”, 8”x8”, 8”x10”, 12”x12”, 12”x16”, 16”x20” and 22”x28”, and prints are on order. I am still painting mostly musicians that have made a mark in the industry, but I have opened up the avenue to painting other inspirational people as well, such as Maya Angelo and Stephen King. I try to find images that capture the soul of the artist or person- I want to see them in their element, or a pose that signifies their personality. I am painting them as a tribute to their talent, the gift they have shared with us, thanking them for taking us temporarily out of our lives, which at times can honestly be very mundane or even dark and depressing, and bringing us up to a level of peace and enjoyment. I know for me, creating them does exactly that.
Publisher’s note-I have known Lori for a number of years and I love her work. Consider a piece for your home or office.