My practice exists for the sole purpose of self-expression. It’s a space of personal exploration where I process a traumatic past and, at times, debilitating anxiety. I strive for clarity in the world and the relationships that have touched my life, whether past or present.

The stylings of my work have shifted and morphed as my art has progressed. I have learned to trust my instincts as I create, allowing myself the space to explore without judgment. This style of creating has led to moments of joy and deep pain, emotions that seem permanently tied to my psyche.

Sipe 1 Libby Portrait of Dad Acrylic and cyanotype 20x30 copy

Libby Sipe, Portrait of Dad, acrylic, cyanotype, gold leaf, urethane on cradled wood panel, 20 x 30 in., 2020.

When I first began to delve into a personal exploration within my practice, I leaned heavily on the psychology of color. I was processing pain with brighter hues and creating a sense of absence by cutting and intertwining cyanotypes within the vivid shades. The inspiration for cutting the cyanotypes originally stemmed from my inability to picture my father’s face. He had died five years previously following a long and drawn-out illness. It was this absence that haunted my work. When I realized I couldn’t picture him completely, it devastated me. I began obsessively looking at old photos, printing and cutting his face. I was desperately trying to understand why I was losing him. In this desperation, I began thinking about family lines. Half of me is him. I have his nose. Does it matter if I can picture his nose in my mind if I can go and look in a mirror to see it? This question fascinated me. I began working on that first painting, Portrait of Dad, with that question in mind. It was a turning point in my life as an artist. It was the first piece that helped me overcome an immense internal struggle.

Sipe 2 Crocodile Love 2021 24x36 inches acrylic and cyanotype copy

Libby Sipe, Crocodile Love, acrylic, cyanotype on cradled wood panel, 24 x 36 in., 2021.

Sipe 3 Libby Mustachioed Man Lover of Flamingos Acrylic and cyanotype 20x30 copy

Libby Sipe, Mustachioed Man Lover of Flamingos, acrylic and cyanotype on cradled wood panel, 20 x 30 in., 2021.

As my practice shifted, so did my exploration of materials and tools. I was yearning for a more tactile impression. I began testing the viscosity of paint and exploring a manifold of paint delivery tools and methods. Although paintbrushes have remained steadfast in my practice, piping bags, typically for frosting cakes, were quite handy as a paint-to-canvas delivery method. As I moved forward, this change from the controlled application of a colorant to a more abstract expression became paramount to my process. As I expanded, I removed the use of the cyanotype and focused my attention on layering oil paints in with acrylic. Oil was a more expressive experience, although more time-consuming. I also no longer needed to portray a sense of absence in the work. I was becoming more interested in excess and the creation of complex layerings. I didn’t want to become trapped in a void of absence. I needed to embrace the presence of all the complicated feelings we all feel daily.

Sipe 6 Dreamscape no 1 Libby Sipe oil and acylic 24x36 2400 copy

Libby Sipe, Dreamscape No. 1, oil and acrylic on cradled wood panel, 24 x 36 in., 2022.

Sipe 4 Queen Bee 20x30 inches 2020 copy

Libby Sipe, Queen Bee. acrylic and cyanotype on cradled wood panel, 20 x 30 in., 2020.

As I was exploring the world of oil, I was also in the development stage with a technique of using dry paint as a buildable material rather than using it in its liquid form. I found something magical with the process of building off my canvas with a variety of dry paint and wire. I wanted to push this to the limit, but I needed to figure out how. I began experimenting with the raw components of acrylic paint, creating my paint with differing viscosity and textures. While struggling to understand my practice’s direction, I built wire and foam armatures instead of stretching canvas. I added shredded tires, glass balls, and beads to my paint. In effect, my paintings had morphed into sculptures.

Sipe 11 Lavinia copy

Libby Sipe, Lavinia, urethane, acrylic polymer emulsion, ultralight, pigment dispersion, acrylic, branches, thread, foam and wire armature attached to stretched canvas, 24 x 53 in., 2022.

Sipe 10 Libby Bubbles Acylic and Cyanotype 24x36 copy

Libby Sipe, Bubbles, acrylic and cyanotype on cradled wood panel, 24 x 36in., 2021.

It’s within this realm of sculptural painting that I exist today. I’m building paintings from sheets of dried paint divorced from a substrate. I am draping these “paint skins” over an armature to create a cocoon, if you will, of paint. This idea of a paint cocoon encapsulates everything that my studio represents. It’s the literal embodiment of a safe space for myself to explore the most private of memories and emotions. It’s a physical manifestation of human resiliency, a poem to survival.

Sipe 8 libby Untitled Disruption oil thread stretched canvas 24 x 36 in 2022 copy

Libby Sipe, Untitled Disruption, oil and thread, 24 x 36 in., stretched canvas, 2022.

Each piece can allow complete expression, uninhibited by a subject, leaving ample space for self-reflection as I build each piece. I let my sense of humor come through as I process emotions by adding found objects into the work. This process of collecting found items has allowed my art to again morph and allow a seemingly endless amount of inspiration.

Sipe 7 Field of Wishes copy 2

Libby Sipe, Field of Wishes, acrylic, cyanotype, cheesecloth, 48 x 60 in., 2022.

I’m confident that my work will continue to alter as I continue working. This constant change allows me to process those difficult moments we all face. It allows me to reflect and contemplate my relation to all living things. It reminds me that I am not alone in the struggles I meet, and that with great empathy for others and a genuine and truthful understanding of myself, I can move forward in life. My work will always remain in flux, but my practice will always remain. It is a singular static that allows my understanding of a world filled with a dichotomy of both deep despair and wonderment.

Sipe 9 Libby Popham Beach Acrylic 20x30 copy

Libby Sipe, Popham Beach, acrylic and cyanotype on cradled wood panel, 24 x 36 in., 2021.


Image at top: Libby Sipe, Hush, acrylic and oil on stretched canvas, 24 x 36 in., 2022.