The bottles in our collaboration series are some of our most popular bottles, and it’s not hard to see why. They give you the chance to express your personality and get creative, and sometimes even serve as a talking point when you’re out and about with your SIGG collaboration.
We love working with artists who share our values: sustainability, creativity, and community, which was why we were thrilled to connect with Lizzie Keenan from OriginaLizzie. A self-taught watercolour artist from Portland, Oregon, she regularly finds inspiration from the creativity of the community in which she lives (we all know Portland has a bit of a reputation in that regard!) and the natural beauty of her home state.
We were looking for an artist to capture the essence of the USA, and Lizzie was exactly who we were looking for. We sat down with her to chat a bit more about her painting, her inspiration, and home country. Join us as we go ‘behind the bottles’ and learn more about our current feature collaborator, OriginaLizzie.
SIGG NA: What is it that provokes you to paint? Is it an idea? An observation? An image or a video?
OG LIZZIE: To be honest, almost anything and everything inspires me to paint. Sometimes it’s an image or idea that I come across that sparks my imagination, and I rush to paint it out. For example, after seeing the latest Star Wars movie I immediately ran home and painted a Porg because they were just so damn cute. Other times I just get this overwhelming feeling that I need to art (yes, I am using art as a verb here).
For me, painting is like meditation. It’s a great form of stress relief when I have the chance to forget everything around me and get lost in the art right in front of me.
SIGG NA: Why do you work with watercolours? What is it about them that helps you articulate your creative pursuit?
OG LIZZIE: I found watercolor by luck. In the past I’ve dabbled in various arts and crafts: knitting, drawing, decoupage, string art-gone-wrong, etc. A couple of years ago I found myself with some additional free time on my hands and thought, “I’ve always wanted to watercolour, I’m just gonna do it.” So I went to my local art store, picked out the cheapest watercolour pan set I could fine, grabbed some paper, and headed home. I was utter crap at first because I didn’t know how the whole water and paint situation worked, but after a couple days of diddling about and watching some YouTube videos, I finally painted some carrots that I really liked. And I thought to myself, “oh hey friend, I like you.” I kept on painting from there and soon realized that a) I really loved painting and b) I might not be half bad at it.
I love the bit of surprise and unknowing nature of watercolour. I paint a lot of wet on wet, so often I don’t know how the pigment will bleed into the water that it sitting on the paper, and that’s part of the fun. And if/when it doesn’t come out very well, you can always add more colour, more water, or try to dab it all away with a paper towel and start anew.
SIGG NA: What’s your creative process when you’re working on a painting?
OG LIZZIE: It depends what I’m painting, but I usually start with some reference materials. Pinterest and Google Images are my favourite tools for this; I search around for photos of the object I want to paint, or the shape I want to explore, and bring them all up on my computer screen. Then, I get out a pencil and sketch out a rough outline of my object. Then, I just have a go at it.
Since I’m not formally trained, I don’t really know the right and wrong way to approach a watercolour painting. I tend to start loose and messy first, then as things dry I come back in with more details and the thing I was hoping to paint starts to take shape.
SIGG NA: When you first started working on this collaboration project, how did you choose which American symbols to paint?
OG LIZZIE: I am not really the flag-bearing American type. Heck, I ran off to England two times for school. So when you came to me asking about a ‘Stars and Stripes’ collaboration, I had to ponder a bit on what that meant to me, and how I could paint what I love, while showcasing the American spirit.
Bald eagles were one of the first things that came to mind, mainly because they are our national bird, but also because of the freedom and wild power that they represent. I get glimpses of them regularly where I live in Oregon, often in the Columbia River Gorge while on a waterfall hike. I love the way they soar through the sky, catching the natural air currents.
I then looked into other national American symbols (because I forgot everything I learned in elementary school) like the American bison, which is our national mammal, the oak tree, which is our national tree, and the rose, which is our national flower. I also milled about with ideas like our national monuments: the Statue of Liberty, Mount Rushmore, and the Washington Monument.
I still wanted to give a shout out to the flag, which is so iconic for the USA, but I wanted to paint it with a bit of whimsy: less structured than the original but still strong in its symbolism. Plus, I like that the stars (which I swapped for blue) kind of look like fireworks, which I love, but also look like rain (which it does a lot of in Portland).
The result is a really cool collection (in my opinion!) of some of our most beloved icons.
SIGG NA: What is it about America that inspires you in your art?
OG LIZZIE: It has to be that fact that art is all around you in America. Take Portland, my hometown, for example. You can barely go a couple of blocks throughout the city without seeing a giant colourful mural on a wall or crosswalk. Or a mini library constructed at your neighbour’s house. Or a gorgeously wild landscaping effort in someone’s front yard. There could be poetry being spoken on a street corner, and even a Darth Vader unicycling down the streets playing flaming bagpipes. When your community is oozing with creativity, it’s hard to not be inspired and jump right in, and I think every community in America has its own version of truly inspiring creativity.
SIGG NA: What’s your favourite thing to celebrate about being American?
OG LIZZIE: Freedom is certainly a word that rings true in what is worth celebrating about being American. That, and the fact that our country is a home made up of immigrants. America is a melting pot of so many cultures and ways of life: you can see it in our streets, in our shops and restaurants, the mix of celebrations and traditions in our homes. The abundance of culture here is incredibly inspiring and worth celebrating.
And fireworks on the 4th of July. I love fireworks.
For more OriginaLizzie, follow her on Instagram and Facebook, and check out her website.
The SIGG collaboration collection with OriginaLizze features Lizzie’s original watercolour art of American symbols, including the soaring bald eagle, majestic American bison, proud Statue of Liberty torch, iconic American flag, and the mighty oak tree. Shop for your favourite now in our Collaborations section.