One of our grandsons will be 6 this year. Wow…this is the age I was when I started taking oil painting and pastel lessons in Mrs. Dyer’s basement long ago. After I had won a ribbon in a local art show for a painting of a clown (I was a weird kid who actually liked them), my Mom thought… “maybe our girl is artistic?” From there, it was all about art and design. I took art in grade school and high school and capped it off with a degree in Graphic Design. (That was the only way to make a living as an artist, said my guidance counselor at the time.)
Just three years after graduating from college, I plunged into starting my own design business. I had NO idea what I was doing. But after over 30 years of amazing clients like Target, Nickelodeon, Bath & Body Works, Universal Studios, and many more…I am ready for the next chapter. Over the years, I have been prone to re-inventions…venturing down a new path every 7–10 years. My poor husband and biz partner has had the great pleasure of figuring things out on the practical side every time I decided to follow a new whim.
By A LOT of hard work, support from family, the talent of designers who worked for us and lots of luck, we are still here…now focused on art licensing. It is thrilling to walk into a small shop while vacationing somewhere, an airport in a distant place, or my local Target and see products showcasing my art. And when I get a note from someone who says that my products and art make them happy, well, that makes it all worthwhile.
I love it, but we are now in the process of several shifts. Our very talented daughter Kenzie now works for us as a designer. We are selling our beloved historical three-story studio. And for me, I want to create art that is more personal. I am longing to paint and make things that come from my heart instead of a design brief or client request. And, after hosting several magical retreats over the last several years (even one in France in 2019), I want to keep orchestrating these experiences for creative kindreds.
I am more than proud as I watch Kenzie come into her own artistically. We have created together her whole life and plan to keep doing lots of fun work together. As we are purging 30 years of collected sketches, paintings and “STUFF” from the building we are selling, an idea kept coming to me.
I have always been a collector of things that I can use to make something new. So, this next phase and body of work that I am dreaming about will be all about “upcycling.” I want to take all of what I’ve saved from the purge…envelopes full of collage material (my own drawings and bits from the last 30 years) and all of the tins, fabrics, jewelry, and “junk” in my stash and reinvent it in a new body of work. I am calling this the “Purge Project.” I am blending my love of tinkering and making 3-D assemblages with my desire to create large mixed media works on canvas.
“There is no life I know to compare with pure imagination. Living there, you’ll be free if you truly wish to be.” —GENE WILDER
FOR THE 3-D PART OF THIS PROJECT
I have always LOVED making stuff. I was constantly bugging my Mom for supplies to make tissue flowers, crayon candles, crocheted purses, dough ornaments…all kinds of little projects. This current making obsession was ignited during COVID lock down. The show “Making It” was hosting a challenge on Instagram called “Making it at Home.” They presented challenges for makers using simple materials from around the house. The first one was “The Junk Drawer Challenge.” I took paper clips, tooth picks, dice, keys, golf tees, and clay and fashioned a funky yellow bird. After that, it dawned on me that I had a HUGE collection of vintage tins, plates, fabric, and all kinds of flea market finds stashed away. I started gathering up my treasures to be used for making more birds.
Curating these materials to make bird after bird became an idea I wanted to share. So, I created an on-line course called “Artful Junk Birds,” which is offered through the Jeanne Oliver website (there is also a link on my site, www.lorisiebert.com). I show each of the steps… sculpting the bird’s bodies, making the wings, curating the materials and adorning each assemblage piece. Students taking the class have been sharing their own junk birds in our Facebook group. They are delightful! I love seeing how each person learns the basic techniques and then makes pieces that are authentically unique to their own style. This fills me with lots of joy.
My own flock has grown to include hummingbirds, roosters, cardinals, and swallows. The latest series are what I call “Boho Birds.” I used crewel work, crocheted doilies, paint brushes, colored pencils and fun fringe on these lovelies that are meant to hang together as a grouping on the wall. Now…I am also on to making “Artful Junk Flowers.” My goal is to unearth and use all of my lovely flea market finds in this growing upcycled little world.
FOR THE MIXED MEDIA/COLLAGE PART OF THIS PROJECT
Since I create tons of art every year for licensing, my flat files were completely overflowing, with drawing, paintings, snips of cut papers, and collage materials.
When we were packing and purging 30 years of stuff after selling our studio building recently, I saved several envelopes FULL of these materials. Instead of throwing away all of what represented my journey over the last 20 years, I wanted to give it a new life.
I am so EXCITED to be working on a series of larger canvases where I am meshing together years’ and years’ worth of my own collage materials. This has been a wonderful exercise and so much fun. Rather than using collage materials from books and magazines, every element I’m adding to each canvas is of my own making. The pieces are 100% authentically me.
I begin with grouping the materials by color way and subject matter. Then, I put down a layer of collage using matte gel medium. When that is dry, I paint, draw stencil, and stamp on top of that layer. Each piece tells a story as the eye travels around, discovering all of the details, textures, and patterns. Most of the pieces are about nature…flowers, birds, and leaves, since that is where I find great inspiration.
“And above all, watch with glittering eyes, the world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.” —Roald Dahl