Art vs. the laundry. It’s an age-old battle — and one that Lori Beneyton faced three years ago during a stressful time in her life.
Spoiler alert: score one for art. On a whim, Lori set aside the laundry, picked up a paintbrush, painted a chicken, and unwittingly set off on a journey to becoming an artist in addition to working full-time and raising her family.
Lori’s vibrant and colorful paintings are currently on display in the children’s wing through November 1. Stop in and enjoy them up close, and read on to learn more about Lori and her creative journey.
When did you know you were an artist?
I was always creative. I wrote and sang. In high school I took a few art classes, using charcoal and pastels. I loved the art history course I took in college. But it wasn’t until 2019 that I started to paint.
Art is often thought of as therapeutic, and I agree. It was a very stressful time in my life. We had moved from our modest Hellertown home to a beautiful 10-acre historic farm in Upper Saucon Township. Within a few months, I lost my job and one of my children experienced a behavioral health crisis. I had no extra income, life at home was full of conflict, and I had nowhere to go.
One evening during all of this, I was folding a mountain of laundry in the guest room. I noticed some art supplies the kids had never used; some acrylic paint, brushes and canvas. I abandoned my chores and sat down to paint, choosing a chicken as my first subject. It took me a few days to complete, after which I posted it on Facebook. I got rave reviews from my family and friends. Since then, I’ve never put down my brush.
I am still working full-time outside of my art, but that part of my life just keeps growing. I took classes at a few places, until I met Adriano Farinella, who I first encountered when I took one of his online classes during Covid. He really pushed me to take my art farther than I thought I could. He helped me get a website up and running, and although I sold paintings prior to that, having my own website made it real to me. I remember I told him “real” was scary, and he said, “Lori, how many successful imaginary painters do you know?”
What’s been your biggest challenge?
Time. I would paint so much more if only I had the time. There are so many things I have to do before I get to do what I want to do.
What successes or achievements are you most proud of?
There have been some nice moments along the way. The first time I showed my art publicly at Gallery840 in Allentown, all three of my children came to the opening and told me how proud they were of me. That was so meaningful. I was also thrilled the first time I sold a sizable work to someone who didn’t know me at all.
In addition to being an artist, I teach some art classes to seniors. I have had some very fulfilling experiences there. I had a 95-year-old tell me she hadn’t painted in 20 years and didn’t think she could anymore, until my class inspired her.
What’s your advice for anyone who wants to explore art, but can’t seem to find the time or feels intimidated by a blank canvas?
You have to free yourself from all that. Don’t have any expectation of outcome. Just draw shapes and play with colors at first. Do it on cheap paper to take away the pressure. I predict your shapes will become something, and will take your attention, and soon your fear will be replaced by concentration and satisfaction.
Did the pandemic have an impact on your work or how you worked?
I contracted Covid in January 2021. I had a very mild case, yet was required to stay home for two whole weeks. I couldn’t go anywhere! It was one of the most creative two weeks in my life. I pushed my art further into abstraction, which is where I always wanted to go. My major influences are Claude Monet, Vincent VanGogh, and Gustav Klimt.
Anything else you’d like to share with readers?
My paintings capture the beauty I see around me. If I see a tree that inspires me, I paint it in a way that makes you feel the early morning chill, hear the rustle of the leaves as the wind picks up, and see the light between the branches and around the leaves. I want you to feel the magic too.
ART@EPL is the library’s exciting partnership with the Lehigh Art Alliance and the Lehigh Valley Arts Council. The series is funded through a grant from PA Partners in the Arts, making it possible for area residents to enjoy free art lectures and workshops from local artists working in pastels, charcoal, sculpture, and watercolor among others.
Visit the ART@EPL page to see all the artists who have led workshops and exhibited work at the library as part of ART@EPL.