There are folks who love art, and folks who love plants, the recently converted plantitos and plantitas of these pandemic times. What happens when these passions meet? Then you have a sure-fire hit, like the one that has been keeping Lito Sioco very busy these days.
Sioco, a visual mechandising manager for a bestselling local clothing chain, found himself with a lot of free time at home when his work schedule was reduced to six days a month during quarantine. “The consumer and retail industries were the hardest hit because of the lockdown,” he recalls.
During this time, his wife Kathy started a fundraising effort for a sick godchild. A good friend donated some hand-painted pots to be sold for the project, and Kathy encouraged her husband to try making his own.
“I started with several pots that were sold immediately to family and friends,” Sioco recounts. “The fundraising reached its goal. However, we had been continuously receiving messages and inquiries about the hand-painted pots, so my wife and I decided to continue with the work, since this could also mean extra income for us, while making other people happy.” That’s how Painter’s Pots PH was born.
Sioco’s original designs were first promoted among family and friends through Kathy’s Facebook account. His sister-in-law, Marigs Laririt, director of sustainability at El Nido Resorts, suggested that Lito also interpret familiar masterpieces. “She loves and appreciates works of art and nature, so she asked for designs like Mandarin fish and underwater scenes, or the works of Van Gogh, Hokusai, Edvard Munch.”
People started to request for customized artwork, as well. Sioco started painting places, landscapes, artworks and animals, including portraits of beloved pets. In fact, that’s how I discovered him, when I became the proud owner of three signed pots with wonderful likenesses of my dogs. He has an uncanny way of capturing a dog’s personality, whether it’s a naughty smile, an innocent tilt of the head, or a gentleness in the eyes.
“I like animals,” Sioco says. “I grew up on a farm, and had several pets and farm animals. Animals were part of my happy childhood days. In animal portraits, just like human portraits, I start with the eyes to see the expressions and emotions.”
Maybe this is why pet owners have been going crazy over Sioco’s pot portraits. “I think as long as you put your heart into whatever you are doing, people who are kindred spirits will find you.”
The pots, which come at a standard height of four inches (nope, no giant pots, sorry), also offered Sioco another chance to practice his first love. This University of the Philippines Fine Arts graduate, who majored in studio arts and painting, had his eyes set on a career as a painter and sculptor, “doing art exhibits or simply making artworks,” he says.
“However, that did not push through. After college, I had to start working, as I became the breadwinner of our family. My father got sick and I needed to help my mom earn a living. Because of circumstances, painting and sculpture were put on hold. I leaned toward computer graphics, design and layout. I believe everything happens in God’s perfect time, though.”
He describes his style as impressionist. “I like to feel the texture of the paint, and enjoy the bold colors, the brush strokes and the movement. I want to capture the life in what I see and show it to people, as if it were happening right before their eyes.”
He’s a fan of Caravaggio, Van Gogh, Paul Cezanne and Gustav Klimt, and has always been fascinated by the human form and nature. “For me, they are the ultimate artworks.”
Nowadays, Kathy is in charge of sales, marketing, scheduling and deliveries; pots come neatly and securely boxed and protected by bubble wrap, while the pots themselves are glazed so the paint does not rub off. The Siocos have maximized social media for the promotion of products; Painter’s Pots is on Facebook and Instagram, where you can see samples of the beautiful work.
Still, Sioco didn’t opt to go too mainstream to ensure the quality of his artworks. “Each pot is hand-painted by me, and needs a lead time of 10-14 days. I don’t like to rush, as I make sure that I give my best work to each client. We consider our products art pieces, and not just pots.”
A commissioned piece can take between eight hours and two days to paint, without interruption. “I have two young kids, though, and they like to play and spend time with me, since I’ve been home most of the time because of the lockdown.”
When work normalizes, he assures, “whatever struggles or difficulties will come, I will continue painting, be it on a pot, a canvas or any medium. The pandemic, as bad as it has been, still had its good side for me. I think God used this time to give me another chance to use the talent He has bestowed upon me. Through my art, I will be able to glorify God, inspire and help people, or simply put a smile on their faces.”