One thing surfaces pretty quickly in any discussion of Yianna Seibold’s art.

The preteen paints not just figures, but fully layered characters constructed of her fanciful imagination that swirls like a writer spinning a complex tale.

Take Seibold’s work “Plumed Hat” (pictured at left), her depiction of a Henri Matisse classic, which highlights a middle-aged woman sporting an elaborate, grandiose topper that triggered the local artist’s wondering in grand style.

“She looks like a rich lady, maybe a queen,” Seibold, 11, wrote of the stern-looking female she painted at age 8. “She stares ahead with cold eyes, in her elegant yellow robe with a fancy, hairy hat. She looks impatient. Maybe she’s not happy with her rich husband.”

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Seibold seems a bit of a deep and humorous character herself. And, make no mistake, she’s more than a youngster brushing a few simple strokes on a canvas.

Her watercolor work last year was included in an adult exhibit of local, professional artists at Gallery 506 at the Columbus Area Visitors Center.

Her show painting, “Good Girl,” later sold for nearly $500.

Her success also includes her work being featured on the Bartholomew County REMC annual calendar for the past three years, with her work chosen from more than 3,000 entries. Her artwork also was among winners earlier this year in the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department Crime Prevention Poster Contest.

The Chinese-native Columbus resident, who will be a seventh-grader at Central Middle School in August, began drawing at about age 5.

“I especially remember one picture I did,” Seibold said. “It was absolutely horrible. I wanted to just throw it away. But my mom (my only teacher) kept it and now says it shows how much I’ve grown (as an artist).”

Her mother, May Seibold, sitting nearby, smiles at the memory. The budding painter and sketch artist recently sat to discuss her work.

Q: You love art, obviously. But you also take weekly piano lessons with an Indiana University Jacobs School of Music professor?

Art is definitely something I like to do in my free time. And piano — yes, I do like it. But art seems to come to me more naturally.

Q: For several years, you regularly have researched on your own the lives of some of the artistic masters. Why?

I love stories a lot. And it makes me feel more connected to the artists, such as Amedeo Modigliani. I went to his grave when I was in Paris, France. And I kissed his tombstone.

Q: What has been among the highlight of your art contests and competitions?

I think I liked it the most maybe the first year here (after moving from China) because I got to meet Mrs. (Karen) Pence (also an accomplished artist, and wife of Columbus native and United States Vice President Mike Pence). That was pretty cool.

Q: Would you like to pursue art full-time?

Actually, it can be a side job for me. I can always be something else in a regular job, like maybe a nurse practitioner.

Q: How do you feel about your upcoming school year and middle school?

I’m kind of excited, because I want to be in the orchestra and try the violin. I also want to take French.

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Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5672.