Sketchbook On Tour

The sketchbookDorky Doodle Darlings ^prepare to Visit NYC, that I made for The Sketchbook Project is on tour, again! This time in Atlanta, GA.

Dorky Doodle Darlings ^prepare to Visit NYC is an illustrated Journal by Suzanne Gibbs. This little book of illustrations with a silly story about doodle darlings that are going to NYC but don’t yet realize they will be living in in NYC! Now they go to visit Atlanta, GA—this part wasn’t even IN the story!!!!

To find out more look here.

Sketchbook of Dorky Doodle Darlings

To see the book in digital format click here.

If you live in or near Atlanta big news! My sketchbook Dorky Doodle Darlings is on tour and stopping in Atlanta this weekend. September 21-23, 2018. Bonus! Read below!

Take a picture for me—of you with my Sketchbook—and I will send you 3 free copies of the printed version of my sketchbook! Thank you!

Link to the event here.

Strong Point-of-View

A strong point-of-view makes for better art, or so it seems, or does it?

What if, like me, your strong point of view is that all points of view have validity and worth. I have had many conversations that lead to a natural point of me taking a deep breath and wanting to honor both sides of an argument. Never wishing to take a side.

If I have any strong points-of-view they are:

  • Being heard, matters.
  • Use conscious curiosity to dig deeper into issues.
  • Actively listen until there is at the very least a baseline of understanding.

I found myself writing a whole book on this topic a few years ago. Click on image below to purchase or learn more.

Picture of Conscious Curiosity open on a table. A book I wrote in 2014 that shares how I reach my point-of-views. Available signed copies for $20.

Cory Huff of Abundant Artist has put out a missive for artists. He has asked that artists go ahead and make art about, or discuss openly one’s strong point-of-view.

This missive of being asked to declare my strong point-of-view is what lead me to write this blog post.

A “no middle ground allowed” goes in direct opposition to how I think, how I feel, and how I behave.

Very often, if not always, I find myself attempting to see things from every angle. Stepping into the shoes, mind, heart of each person I meet as best as I can. I value both ends of the ubiquitous u-shaped bell-curve of statistics. Research is my friend. Asking lots of questions is a means of declaring my point-of-view.

As for my point-of-view on a few key argument inducers, I offer my thoughts below.

Politics: I would remove corporate dollars, even if this means smaller platforms and action through people not companies—this is obviously not possible within our current framework.

Illustraion Detail, ©2018 Suzanne Gibbs for Silly Girl Factory, Hope, water color and ink on paper, 12 x 9 inches, $75 (inquire through email).

Religion/Spirituality: I was raised catholic, the doctrine will always be a part of who I am. Now I practice outdoor mindfulness, yoga, and meditation (alone and in community). I believe in God, but I also honor and use the words higher being, universal energy, spirit, goddess, and other equivalents.

Illustration Detail by Suzanne Gibbs for Silly Girl factory, Breathe, watercolor and ink on paper, 12 x 9 inches, $75 (inquire through email).

Education: I strongly believe that education alone can heal people and the planet.

Suzanne Gibbs, ©2018, Lost Voice, Flashe paint and other media on wood cradled panel, 10 x 10 inches, $300

Money: Money is not the source of all evil. The current distribution of money is out of balance, but there will always be richer and less rich until the day we destroy the construct of money.

Silly Girl Factory, Suzanne Gibbs, Artist ©2018. One in a series of dog portraits in everyday activities. SOLD

Guns: I wish it was infinitely harder to own them, especially in United States.

Suzanne Gibbs ©2016, 222 Faces Series, Watermelon Face, watercolor on Italian paper, 5 x 5 inches, $50

The premise of this post was to honor the missive of declaring my personal strong point-of-view. I know I have missed the mark. I will take solace from a yoga instructor I’d like to meet one day: we can have a strong point-of-view without minimizing others. Do I need to place a lower value on my work because I believe in the value of others and their opinions? I don’t think so. Why should I, my work is my own unique point-of-view, even if I am not an arguer or a bully.

13 Lessons from Open Water Swimming

For the past two years I have been working on a huge project that I have mostly kept quiet. My husband and I have been building a cabin on a lake. A place where open water swimming is possible.

Image of lake from construction zone.

In order to realize our dream of building a lakeside cabin I have been living in Oregon, apart from my husband, for nearly two years. For months on end, I lamented to him about how I miss our local gym and the ease of going to fitness classes or to swim laps. In a moment of true clarity he said, “You have a huge pool! The lake! Get yourself a wet-suit.”

I happen to love swimming in open water so I have no idea why it took 17 months for this idea to surface!

Amazon sent me a wet-suit.

Nearly a dozen swims later and I am still so excited to get out into the water more often. Every swim feels like an adventure. Like living on the edge. My whole perspective of the world is shifting.

The water, nature, and my new perspective from the middle of the lake offers lessons for life (and for my art trejectory).

Below are a few details about my feelings and observations while swimming.

13 Lessons from Open Water Swimming

  1. There are no walls, so there are no longer any flip-turns or walls to butt up against. Sure, there is the shoreline but it will be quite a while before I can explore the full extent of the lake. Possibilities are endless.
  2. The perspective of seeing our neighborhood from the water is a revelation to me! Each family has a dock into the water (we don’t, at least not yet). These docks are a swoop of many steps into the water from long stairs directly from homes along one side of the lake. Each family has built their version of entry in to the water. We all reach goals differently.

    Image of our stairs to lake.

  3. The characteristics of the homes look so different to me from the water. Unlike traditional neighborhoods, the lakeside of homes are more welcoming with lots of windows, yet rarely seen, except from the water. Judge not the surface of places and people, I think to myself.
  4. The possibilities for exploration of wildlife is endless, or at least only constrained by my personal fitness level. You see, the opposite side of the lake from our cabin is raw, unfinished, and undeveloped land. Therefore, when I swim to the opposite side, all I get is trees, birds, weeds, plants, and the occasional fish jumping. I feel wild every time I reach the other side. Wild freedom of expression is exceptionally wonderful.
  5. To get into the water to swim, I need to crawl over and under plants and trees because our lakeside entry into the water is overgrown and wild much like the opposite side. The path I take is beginning to take shape with each swim I take. I am learning that to create a path to reach my goals much stumbling, blazing, and repeated habits is necessary.

    Image of overgrown trail to lake.

  6. Once I get to the waters edge I need to wade through reeds and mucky ground to get to deeper water. Each step is a step of trust. I have no idea what I might step on. The first two times I wore shoes, but that did not work because swimming with floating feet is awful and hurts my back. Walking through the muck barefoot has not gotten any easier. The 30 or so feet I walk through is enough to motivate me to get into the deeper water more quickly so that I can float above the muck and swim. One day we will build a dock… so that I can avoid the muck. For now, the muck serves as a reminder that to get to a goal sometimes there is muck to move through.

    Image of lake muck and the glorious swimming possibilities beyond.

  7. One evening while I was swimming it was quite windy. I thought that by putting my head down, closing my eyes, and swimming strong I’d get to where I wanted to go. I veered so far off course while swimming in the wind that I actually had to swim far more than I intended to get back to the shore of our property. A great lesson about setting a course that I can clearly see and to consider outside challenges. Plus, had I looked up and paid attention to my course from time to time I would have noticed the problem sooner. As it is, my whole body was quite wobbly getting to shore and through the muck after that swim.
  8. I decided I needed to wear goggles to swim. The problem with goggles in open water is that I can only see my hands ahead of me splashing in the amber water with each stroke. The rest is darkness with occasional rays of sunlight that disappear into more darkness. The water is very fresh and smells clean, but like any open water there is only a small amount of visibility. The goggles are a prop that help and hinder. A reminder to only use what is really needed and that seeing more clearly is not always possible.
  9. When I arrive at the other side of the lake, with my goggles on, the shore is suddenly visible underwater and so are the plants and the many roots of the plants. This frightened the crap out of me until my eyes focused. I wear glasses so it took my mind a while to make sense of what I was seeing. I nearly raced back to the other side thinking that I was going to get entangled in all the plant life, roots, and tree trunk parts! Change is frightening for me, always.
  10. When I took a deep breath and looked again, under the water on the opposite shore, I realized I was now given a whole new perspective on the life underwater. The beauty of the plants that nourish the other creatures in the water is spectacular and interesting, once I got to know and understand what I was seeing. The water is teeming with energy and life! My life is teeming with energy and possibility.
  11. The other day while I was in the water swimming I saw a boat out on the water in the distance and people fishing from the boat. I kept swimming. Moments later they were gone. Completely disappeared. To where, I do not know. There is a lesson in this, but I can’t think what. I lost the people. I guess, sometimes in life, we loose sight of our goals, purpose, and even our connection to others. Still, all I could do was to keep swimming.
  12. I have a fear that swimming alone in the open water might make me disappear. After all, who even knows I am in there? Who would care if something happened? From this fear has come trust. Trust that if something happened I’d remember that I can back-float, it’s easy for me. I am a strong swimmer. Once already, I choked and gobbled up too much water, and I was ok after a few moments on my back. Trusting—that there are people, in their houses, that can see that I am out in the lake swimming—is my new mantra. They have docks and boats. Surely, if something were to happen to me a neighbor would want to be sure I was ok. From the open water I am learning to trust that I will be supported, when and if needed.

    Image of ferns on trail to lake.

  13. Open water swimming is altering my perspective on what is possible. I really want to keep improving my fitness level so that I can explore more of the lake with each successive swim. I also am finding a deeper inner voice that is calling to be put into my art.

The open water is delightfully cool and full of life lessons. None of these marvelous revelations would have been possible in a swimming pool in a fitness club. Not only because the pool has walls, but because the pool was familiar. This lake is a part of a chapter in what is newly possible for me.

  • I now have two kids in college.
  • I live apart from my husband, for now, for a time.
  • Swimming in open water is not new to me, but to do it in a nearly private lake, and not be in a public place or in an organized race/event is truly and spectacularly new to me.

Once I took the time to buy a wet-suit and dive into the unknown I also decided to slow down and notice the new life I am creating. My hope for others is that I can inspire the same: slow down to grow into a life you create…or buy art from someone that inspires this in you 😉

Peek-a-boo image of lake and trees. Goals sometime do not show ALL of themselves.

Thoughts On Art

Here are some thoughts on art: fine art versus fun art.

Let’s begin with a sickeningly simple explanation:

  • fine art is the stuff of galleries
  • fun art is work found in children’s books or on household products

Of course, this crude distinction between fine art and fun art is arbitrary and the world of art is much more complex. My thoughts and philosophizing need so much more room than a lowly blog post. I could possibly even go as far as to say that a PhD thesis could be expelled from my thoughts on art. Maybe. Here is a simple illustration of the arbitrary distinctions I am considering.

Suzanne Gibbs ©2016, Art I am looking for, paper, pen, watercolor, 4.75 x 4.75 inches, $65

Two examples:

  1. Eric Carly wrote and designed children’s books. I would define his art as: very fine and distinctive work.
  2. Andy Warhol ran his factory, and is well regarded as a fine artist. I could easily classify much of his work as fun art.

My thoughts on art resemble splitting hairs. There is no precise answer. I am creating an unnecessary distinction.

Yet, the topic of fine art vs fun art is very interesting to me. For example, people spend more time studying and looking at illustrations in children’s books than we do liking and looking at great works of art. Simply consider the hours upon hours of nighttime reading spent with children. Or, in the days of newspapers, reading the “funnies, ” as we used to call them.

Many people find joy searching for the perfect fabric on a throw pillow, but rarely spend more than a few seconds in front of world-class art in a museum. I work to fill my life with both fine art and fun art. Then I write my thoughts on art and to drive the point home I make art.

I make all kinds of art. Fine art and fun art.

I tend to label the painting below fine art. But is it?

Suzanne Gibbs, ©2018, OPEN, Flashe paint and other media on wood cradled panel, 16 x 16 inches, $480

The work below I would consider as fun art. I know, incredibly arbitrary.

Illustration Detail by Suzanne Gibbs for Silly Girl Factory, watercolor and ink on paper, 12 x 9 inches, $75.

My thoughts on art is that, for me, my dream is that my art fits in both realms. I want to create art to be art for all people and worthy of different applications. I work towards: Approachable. Meaningful. Art.

From Small to Big

I will work from small art to big art.

I tried in grad school—to make BIG art. The paintings I made were very large at 6 x 5 feet and 32 pounds, without paint. However, I fractured my fibula while moving a large painting in progress. Requiring 6 weeks of wearing a boot! Then therapy. This was a set back.

Then, I got horrible feedback/critiques from my professors on my bigger art work. My art practice is not their art, and feedback is fabulous and so…I continue.

My plan is to move from small to big, again.

My new series, Grids From Within, are personal portraits in words, paint, and collage. Each one has at least one layer of handwritten diary type writing in and on them. Going big with my internal chatter does not feel intimate. I almost feel as though I might be screaming.

So far, Parent Sandwich, below is the largest painting at a modest 24 x 24 inches. I have plans for larger works.

Suzanne Gibbs, ©2018, Parent Sandwich, Flashe paint and other media on wood cradled panel, 24 x 24 inches, $720

I started these paintings at 14 x 11 inches and 10 x 10 inches.

Suzanne Gibbs, ©2018, My Voice Matters, Flashe paint and other media on wood cradled panel, 14 x 11 inches, $375

Suzanne Gibbs, ©2018, Lost Voice, Flashe paint and other media on wood cradled panel, 10 x 10 inches, $300

Doubling and tripling up the process, the amount of paint, and the system I use to make these requires more of me. More mental focus and more confidence, plus of course, more time.

Before I began I wondered: Will the concept of the grids hold up to a bigger format? What size squares should I employ? Should my handwriting stay at the intimate size? As well as other internal chatter on the large vs smaller format.

I worked up incrementally. The painting below is 16 x 16 inches, I made it before I made Parent Sandwich.

Suzanne Gibbs, ©2018, Don’t Know, Flashe paint and other media on wood cradled panel, 16 x 16 inches, $480

Even though the bigger pieces might feel like screaming to me, for the viewer the experience of a bigger painting is to be enveloped in the image and the message. An advantage worth considering while I work from small to big.

Going Beyond Painting

Going beyond painting is about collaboration, not just me alone making art.

Although, this is how I work, alone-making art.

I am envisioning a way to collaborate. I plan to offer my art—drawn and made especially for YOU—on postcards! This is how it will work:

  1. You send me a picture or pictures, and your postal address, plus a small fee of $10 (USA).
  2. I draw and paint for you.
  3. I mail you your art.
  4. Your original art postcard is yours to keep.

That’s it! A 4 step process that gets a lot of my work into the hands of—HOPEFULLY—a lot of people like you.

Here is a link to the page to get your art.

Suzanne Gibbs, ©2018, Backbend. Art available on a throw pillow via Zazzle.com. The inspiration for this image started out as a picture in a yoga magazine.

Going beyond painting means my work belongs in the hands of others—your hands, through the mail system.

Let’s call these mini-commissions. Send me your image—I make you art.

The LOW price of $10 is for the first 100 cards I ship.

You can, if you wish, do a few extra things:

  1. Post an image of yourself with your new art on Social Media and tag me at Suzanne Gibbs or Suzanne Gibbs Art.
  2. Tell a friend where you got your new art.
  3. Hire me to make more art for you, because art in multiples look amazing!!!

Going beyond painting means that I create an experience that goes beyond painting—a collaboration between us and hopefully a happy YOU.

Once again, Here is a link to the page to get your art. Thank you.

My Friend, The Sketchbook

One of my favorite things these days is my friend, the sketchbook.

My sketchbook gladly accepts scribbling.

Page spread from August 2018 sketchbook of Suzanne Gibbs.

The handwritten word lands on each page.

Page spread from August 2018 sketchbook of Suzanne Gibbs.

From other artists art I find inspiration and draw to my hearts content.

Page spread from August 2018 sketchbook of Suzanne Gibbs.

Getting glue all over the place, I make collage.

Page spread from August 2018 sketchbook of Suzanne Gibbs.

I make nothing in particular. For no particular reason and for no one in particular, except maybe me. To see more of my sketchbooks, try my YouTube channel.

Page spread from August 2018 sketchbook of Suzanne Gibbs.

I capture ideas—they come to me, they are not mine.

Page spread from August 2018 sketchbook of Suzanne Gibbs.

My sketchbook is my friend.

I am on a journey of unknown destination. My friend, the sketchbook allows the meanderings and musings to be captured, recorded, honored, and saved.

I’m in that liminal place between where I’ve been and where I’m going. I am uncomfortable and a little scared. I will stay here, in the pages of my sketchbook, until I know exactly which direction I’m headed next.

Will there ever be an exactly? A knowing? A clear and undeniable answer?

Likely, not. My sketchbook is one of my favorite things, and my friend, because I can rely on the pages to take what I have to offer.

When I need comfort, she’s here for me. When I need an outlet, he takes a beating.

Page spread from August 2018 sketchbook of Suzanne Gibbs.

My friend, the sketchbook knows that to be silly is to use one’s highest intelligence because laughter heals.

I have learned in life, that what I write down, and what I pay attention to grows and becomes  real life, eventuality. The sketchbook, knows this too and the seeds spread far and wide.

The impossible becomes possible and what is impermanent becomes permanent inside the pages of a sketchbook filled from curiosity.

Picking up images, words, and musings everywhere I go, and everyday absorbing and applying them in my friend, the sketchbook. This is a place of unrestrained containment. My favorite place to be, with a friend—myself.

Getting Organized—A Forever Task!

As an artist on the go, getting organized is a BIG job!

Currently, for me, organizing is a slap and dash activity! Rather than the sustained habitual method that I could cultivate.

Here is an example of under-organized or forgetful, you pick!

Yesterday I made a video of my work (I made the art earlier this year). I wanted to create content, share my art from a different vantage point, and generally look for ways to reach out and share what I do.

The whole time I was creating the video yesterday in PremirePro CC, I felt like this was the very first time I had ever created a video!

I shared yesterday’s video creation on YouTube then on social media announcing it as my first ever video!

Suzanne Gibbs ©2016, Explore Yes, paper, pen, watercolor, 4.75 x 4.75 inches, $65

Then I woke up this morning.

I have made 6 videos and posted them on YouTube! What?!?! SIX! When?

Clearly I need to be more organized, or get focused. What am I doing here? Why do people follow what I do? Why do I keep making art?

I want to get organized and stay hyper creative and generally free from structure—I treasure my flexible lifestyle.

BUT…

Here I am, it is August 1 and I am feeling the pressure. The pressure of 2018 coming to a close. We are well past the 1/2 way point of the year! This is about the time each year that I start asking myself questions. Questions like: have I reached my goals for myself? Did I sell enough art? How much is enough art to share my voice? Have I reached as many people as I’d like to? Do I have new goals for the back half of 2018?

There are new-old goals. Yes, I want to keep a smoother work flow. I’d like to solidify my daily habits. A wonderful miracle would be for my art business to be organized and linear.

This all eludes me!

Nothing is linear or smooth. Habits do help! Being organized could help even more!

To complicate things I have been living in two places for nearly two years now (October will be my 2 year anniversary of not living in one place). This is a whole other story!

I wonder if I should buy and use a mobile art studio!

I even want to get all the ideas and stuff I read online organized in electronic format so that I can share info through my books and blog posts. But what about starting with organizing my own content online!?! Clearly this ought to take priority!

Today I added a page to my website. There are links to all my videos, not just the one I made yesterday!

One organizational task—off my list!

Getting organized is a forever task, but I started with one thing today.

Thanks for reading. Now it’s time for me to get even more organized! Or make more art!