Lora is a dedicated mother, teacher, and artist. She has been an Elementary Art teacher for over 10 years but loves to create as much as possible. Known for her robust creativity, she has expanded her landscape of expression to lesson plans, interior spaces as well as various visual art pieces.
After the traumatic birth of her son, Lora suffered PTSD, shifting the priority and necessity for recovery and mental health support. This compelled her back into creative spaces and produced therapeutic abstract artworks.
Lora’s work captures the mental conflict between compulsive control and uninhibited chaos. Her work balances the boundaries between letting the paint go as it pleases and restraining it to certain areas, colors, and textures. The juxtaposition creates a visual dynamic of the mind.
"I create art that brings peace home."
Lora implements techniques created layer upon layer of pooled vibrant color that requires many hours of patience, and dedication. In the end, the energy of her work shows a balance between beautiful chaos and thoughtful restraint.
Thus far, her inspiration has been based on her experiences, her faith, and the beautiful surroundings of Northern, Ontario, Canada.
When she is not teaching, painting, or being a mom, Lora enjoys everything the North has to offer. She is usually outside skiing in the winter or swimming in the summer in beautiful Lake Superior. Lora is also an avid collector of mid-century modern everything and she is often known to drive to various locations to score a great Mid Mod item.
What’s your background? Does it influence your artwork? (childhood, where you live or were raised)
I was born in Chapleau, a small Northern Ontario town with wilderness all around me. I had the opportunity to live beside a lake my whole childhood and I have never taken that for granted. As a kid, I have the best memories of canoeing, fly-in fishing, and swimming. As a young teen, I moved to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, and I currently continue to reside here. It is a big city with a small-town feel. The community is amazing and Lake Superior has become my favorite muse. I am constantly finding ways to go see Lake Superior as much as I can whether it is to go swimming at the most beautiful beach called “Bathtub Island” or to walk down the boardwalk and watch the boats dock in the St. Mary’s River.
The experiences I have had outdoors have influenced my work. I find that being by a Lake is a very relaxing experience. I try to mimic that peaceful feeling in my artwork.
When did your love for art first begin?
As a child, for fun, I would draw the people in my books and stories. I couldn’t even read the stories and yet I was trying to replicate how to draw this princess’s hair. As I grew up, I was always into every art project I was given by teachers. I thought maybe I would be an art teacher someday but never thought it could be a possibility. In undergrad, I switched my major to the Arts later on because I eventually figured out I wanted to do “something” in the Arts.
What inspires you?
I am inspired by the balance in life. I know that I am an anxious person and I think my home is my peaceful place. I create art that brings peace home. I find peace in my beliefs and in the nature that surrounds me in Northern Ontario.
How did you develop your style?
I used to have a style that had lots of texture and also graphics. It took about a year for me to work on something I was proud of. I felt my work was visually interesting yet peaceful. I also felt that my work would resonate with many people who wanted to have that calming work of art in their homes. I continue to work at various color combinations and textures to create interesting work that is both reflective and relaxing.
What is your favorite technique and why? How do you make your art?
My work has mixes of both boldness with softness. I like to play with something that is soft and unforgiving like Acrylic Ink. I add layer upon layer, creating movement and depth to my piece. Once I have the right balance, I will add a relief of Abstract White Highgloss medium, something bold that is striking. This white relief acts as another canvas for me to create another layer of texture. I add a variety of textures to this layer to create the perfect combination of flat and matte with texture and gloss. The last layer is a movement layer with a bold color to tie everything together.
How does being a teacher influence your art?
Being an Art Teacher influences the creative and playful side of life. When you teach kids who are in awe of what they can create with oil pastels or watercolor, it keeps you interested in the work that you are doing as well. It helps me see the wonder in something new. This year, being a teacher has been extremely challenging. You have to be amazing at problem-solving and I believe teaching has helped me to problem solve problems in my artwork. I am extremely proud of my career as an Art Teacher and I hope to continue for many years to come.
How do you balance both being a teacher and an artist? What’s your workday like?
My day would probably rattle most people. It is busy and hectic. I come home usually with more than 15 thousand steps on my smart watch. A normal day for me would be working out in the am and going to work an hour before I teach, prepping for my day which would be setting up centers for kindergarten or preparing oil pastel boxes for a classroom. I would teach my classes and on my first lunch, I would share a post on social media about my artwork. I would comment on Instagram and after that lunch is done, back to teaching my art lessons. If I have to watch the kids outside that day, I may not be able to post something. After 2nd lunch, I would teach my last blocks and I would have prep time. During the prep time, I plan out my art lessons for the week to see what I need to prepare in terms of materials. When my day is done, I would go home, make supper, and spend time with my family. After my kid goes to bed, this is when I work on my Artwork. I usually spend 2-3 hours every evening painting, sending emails, creating social media posts, and planning for future projects. Doing both is a balance but I am a creative person and I cannot stop this part of me no matter how hard I try.
What have you been listening to while working lately?
I am an avid reader. When I am off work, I can read 20 books easily in a summer. So when I am painting, I listen to podcasts or audiobooks. I go through phases of listening material so I can’t pinpoint one thing but my go-to is fantasy books or business podcasts.
What's something new you'd like to try this year?
This year I want to paint on wood. It will be an experiment but I am excited to experiment and try new ways to push my process using different materials. I also want to work on painting on paper for the same reason. This gives me lots of opportunities to explore my medium in various ways.
Follow Lora on Instagram: @loracazwell