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Lori Young

By Melanie Moffett
In Bayou Artist
Jan 1st, 2014
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Photography by Joli Livaudais | Article by Mary Napoli

It all began with a Renoir print that her parents hung in her childhood bedroom in Houston, Texas. As a little girl, she would gaze at the vibrant colors and dramatic brush strokes of the impressionistic artwork and daydream.  There was something about that painting that spoke directly to her soul.  It fed her creative imagination and nourished her artistic temperament.  The memory of that painting inspired a starry-eyed girl to trust her talent, channel her creative energy, and blossom into a remarkable artist in her own right.

Lori Young may be as southern as the magnolia blooms that she paints, but her delicate exterior belies the tenacious drive that exists beneath.  She has a gentle touch and a demeanor as enveloping as a warm blanket, but it’s that twinkle in her eye and the ease with which she sports her cowgirl boots that assures those who know her that she is a belle that can hold her own.  After raising three sons with her husband, Joey, she formed L.Young Studio in 2008 and embarked on a successful career as a prominent local artist with a following that reaches far beyond the Mason-Dixon.

At the Young family home on Tri Oaks Farm, a picket fence surrounds the picturesque grounds.  Cherished horses, nosy geese and chickens of all colors gather around the bright red barn that is positioned beside a small, peaceful pond.  The interior of the barn is far from what is expected.  Alive with energy, it is the epicenter of her creativity.  Young transformed the space into her personal workshop when L.Young Studio was born.  From top to bottom, the studio is a warm, interesting space with countless objects of inspiration.  Examples of Young’s breathtaking canvases line the walls and sentimental objects that inspire the artist–like dried flowers, photographs, vintage fabrics and sculptures–can be found throughout.  In the middle of the room stands her easel, brushes and the delicate china plates that she uses as palettes for her brightly colored paints.  Watching her stand thoughtfully near her easel at the room’s center, it seems to be a window into her subconscious.  Her artwork is her passion and comes from deep within the center of her  tender and gracious heart.
Chances are, you may have come across one of Lori Young’s stunning canvases without realizing it.  The artist has countless collectors of her work and is a mainstay at fine interior boutiques, the closest in proximity being Haven on Forsythe Avenue in Monroe and Townsend House in Ruston.  The incredibly popular canvases are praised for their handmade, one-of-a-kind quality, and  are admired for their remarkable beauty and captivating composition.
Young creates an enchanting multi-media collages that begin with a central image, which she hand paints in watercolor.  Before depicting that image, Young studies it thoroughly so that her representation is accurate and realistic.  After the watercolor image has been completed, Young begins to incorporate other aspects of the collage into the piece.  She then chooses the perfect passage or quote to accompany the artwork.  Often, the text that is included on the canvas has a historical and regional significance.

“I’ve been here (in Monroe) over thirty years now, so this is home.  But growing up in Texas, there were so many classes taught in school that revolved around Texas state history.  Immersing myself in the history and culture of Louisiana has been such a joy in my life,” says Young.

Although she grew up in Texas, the unique culture of Louisiana has long since settled in her bones, and this lady from the Lone Star State now has bayou in her blood.  This meaningful connection to the Bayou State is apparent in her artwork and served as the inspiration for her most popular collection.

Young’s “State Collections” have grown rapidly over the last several years and now include depictions from each of the fifty states, but the series originated with Louisiana-based artwork.  During the years she served as part owner of The Chartreuse Pear, located in downtown Ruston, many visitors came looking for artwork that reflected the charm and culture of Louisiana, but did not have the common, kitschy look that so many souvenirs have. Young’s Louisiana Collection has a timeless and elegant design and celebrates the natural beauty and unique heritage of our state. The highly recognizable pieces are created in the artist’s signature collage format and feature a central image that corresponds with a letter of the alphabet.  Think “A” for alligator, “B” for Louisiana black bear, “C” for crawfish. The culture, regional dialect and colloquialisms of each area of the country often form their own local “language.”  Young represents the individual languages through these alphabetical associations.    Some canvases feature quotes and sayings in French to reflect Louisiana’s grand past life.  Fans of her work often collect letters that have strong meaning to them, like their personal or family monogram, or they choose an image that speaks to their hearts.  For instance, collectors who enjoy hunting or have fond memories of days spent with a friend or family member at the hunting camp might choose Young’s canvas that features the letter “D,” and noble white tailed deer.  For those with a family history of cotton farming, the billowy cotton boll represented by the letter “C” may ignite a connection.  It brings Young great pleasure that people feel such strong, personal associations with her artwork.  Her creations are not only visually breathtaking, but are representative of personal journeys or collective experiences.

“Often, people may do an all-state collection, or they may collect different places they have lived or traveled to.  I look at it as if they are creating their own personal storyboard of their life through my art.  I don’t want them to see me when they see it (the artwork).  I want them to see their memories,” says Young.

Each canvas or print, regardless of its size, is an individual creation.  She paints the sides of each gallery wrapped canvas, applies the multi media collage and hand pours a shellac-based resin on each piece to create a high-gloss seal that preserves the high-quality giclee print. The individual canvases receive the artist’s personal signature on the front and back as a sign of authenticity.

“I am very hands-on with each of the canvases.  I paint the sides before the collage is transposed, and the resin is hand poured on each one.  Each canvas is an individual work–I am definitely a one-girl show.”

Young’s experience in retail drives her to make sure her artwork remains accessible to local customers and those beyond the delta region.  L.Young Studio has a presence on the web at her website, www.lyoungstudio.com, and on etsy.com.  Her work is available at these fine interior shops:  Haven in Monroe, Townsend House in Ruston, Lewis Gifts in Shreveport, Grandmother’s Buttons in St. Francisville and John Ward Gifts and Interiors in Alexandria.

What began with a dedicated local following grew quickly, and Young began to receive requests that other states have representation in the collections.  It wasn’t long before she was commissioned to create artwork in her signature collage format that portray other countries in various parts of the world that have special meaning to a specific collector.  It is a challenge and an adventure that the artist enjoys.

“The fun thing about being online, is that you are in contact with people from everywhere.  I personally don’t have a connection to Budapest, but I have been asked to create artwork for it to add to a personal collection.  It is exciting to meet so many wonderful people from just everywhere,” says Young.  In addition to Budapest, she has also created work that features Germany, Australia, Spain and Mexico.

The Louisiana Collection is so popular that it also spawned a companion collection, the Cuisine Collection.  These watercolor prints feature stunning representations of famous southern dishes, like beignets and raw oysters.  Young has also created canvases that feature fleur de lis, initials, birds, bees, butterflies and other local flora and fauna.  While the State Collections would be a phenomenal gift to give or receive during holiday time, Young also has a Holiday Collection that features the Twelve Days of Christmas–southern style.  The elegant 4×4 canvases could be displayed individually as a striking tree ornament or better, as a spectacular collection.  The first in the series presents an adorable bullfrog and reads, “on the first day of Christmas, my Boudreaux gave to me a bullfrog under a Cypress tree.” These whimsical creations are as exquisite as they are playful and will be treasured long after the holiday season has passed.

In her timeless artwork, Young magnificently captures so much of what is memorable about our land–its natural beauty, fascinating history, unique dialects.  Each piece is as individual and extraordinary as a rare Louisiana snowflake. However, the matchless beauty that this endearing local artist creates will never fade.