March Madness

March seems to be a month where I GO ALL OUT!

Five years ago, in 2014 I had a month-long art sale. I called it March Madness. Nearly 100 pieces of my work went all over the USA—including Alaska and the east coast. This was the year post-graduate school and I have tons of art needing homes. Gratefully, many people where excited to own the work.

Encaustic, string, buttons, men’s shirt pieces, medallion on panel, 6.5 x 7.5 SOLD

Four years ago, in 2015 I made postcards for 30 people in 30 days in March.

Suzanne Gibbs, ©2015, Fixie Bike, watercolor on postcard, Card shipped to Boston.

Three years ago, in 2016 I did the postcards gig a second time, and generated many more takers than the first year. 45 original art cards made and mailed.

Suzanne Gibbs, ©2016, Spring Peeper, watercolor on postcard, Card shipped to Hopewell, NJ

Two years ago, in 2017 I was working for another artist making huge sculptures out of marine debris in an artists residency that lasted a year instead of a month.

Working with garbage necessitated a mask! Behind me is a huge whale tail in process.

Last year, in 2018 I published my second book at the end of February and shipped all the copies I printed in March.

Image of the cover of My Year of Separation, I have a few copies left for sale.

What will March 2019 bring? I am totally unsure! There will be a March Madness game to watch on TV, and as always, I will be making more art.

January 2019 Sketchbook, with a little December and February too!

I am once again showing the pages and the thinking behind keeping a daily sketchbook. The following pages encompass December 2018, January 2019 and a bit of February 2019 sketchbook. I always like a laugh, hear me know—it’s a page turner!

Honestly, if I could help one other person to enjoy the journey of personal sketching and journal pages, I’d be happy! Comment if I have made a difference for your thinking about sketchbook keeping after you have watched the video.

Suzanne Gibbs, December + January + February 2019 Sketchbook

Once in a while the pages of my sketchbook land me a commission fine art sale. This sketchbook was instrumental in one of these types of relationships. I took an idea from the pages of my sketchbook and remade the art on fine art watercolor paper. I am grateful for the work and most especially the ability to bring joy to a client!

While my goal for my sketchbooks are not sales, when I do get a sale from the effort the extra bonus is sweet and keeps me motivated to keep on learning through an exploration of ideas, materials, and musings. I keep the work purposefully playful and messy! The joy is in the making.

Why Walking While Musing

…and why has the series been ended already?

Image of ferns on trail to lake.

My Walking While Musing videos have temporarily or forever ended, because they served their purpose. Now it is time for me to move on. I made them while I was in a state of transition. My studio space at the time was a 2 x 4 foot table that was also where I ate, wrote, and did anything else that required a table. I lived in a space of 11 x 12 feet with a bathroom.

The musings were a form of artistic expression, but also a form of redirecting my visual voice.

I’ve had viewers, fans, and readers asking me: What’s up with these musings?

I’d rather entice you to watch, but, well… instead, now is the time to explain.

I made my Walking While Musing video episodes for three reasons.

  1. My weekly hikes feed my body, mind, and spirit giving me the energy and stamina to create art. I do not exactly get “inspired” by my nature walks, but the time spent outdoors makes me feel better both physically and emotionally.
  2. While I am in nature, I pay close attention to detail. In nature I see all her flaws and imperfections as absolutely right and perfect. A broken tree is flawless. A cloudy sky will not last forever. Soggy ground is muddled. This translates into my work. I am not a precise painter. Spontaneity, mishaps, and even mistakes make me happy.
  3. The musings in nature also serve a bigger purpose, my studio time often follows the walks. Going forward, instead of taking you outside on my walks, am excited to figure out a way to invite you into my studio world and process.

Stay turned, for a look inside the world of my imagination inside my new tiny studio.

Suzanne Gibbs, ©2018, 100 Postcard Series, #9, Mixed Media, varied sizes, NFS

Accepting commissions for personalized watercolor grid paintings. Let’s get the conversation started here.

A Tiny Art Studio

This post is the first peek of what it has taken me to realize the dream of a dedicated place to make art and honor my creativity skills.

We live on a small lot. We also live in a very small house (under 900 square feet). Space is so limited and precisely defined that building a tiny studio, on wheels, seemed to be the best solution for me to have a dedicated place to work.

Last year I went about searching for a work unit that would suit my needs and my dreams. I dedicated two Pinterest boards to my ideas. First, a board for mobile business units, and second a studio setup dreams board.

The dream boards helped me to focus on prioritizing my needs.

I had a list of furniture I already owned, and a list of how I would like the space to function. Every inch counts in a tiny space!

I considered purchasing a used Airstream to gut out to be a work space. I then looked at buying a used tiny house that I then re-tool and remove what I didn’t need to make room for what I did need. In the end, I hired a contractor in a different part of the state to build a tiny studio on wheels for me, from scratch.

My tiny studio was being brought to life miles away, in a different city. A licensed contractor not only built the unit, he also delivered upon completion. I do not own a truck or vehicle appropriate to haul the unit! The communication we had was via phone, texting, and email. Some things went really well, other times, communication or details fell apart.

I do have a space to work. However, the process was not without problems. Many problems. I might have done things differently if I knew then what I know now, but isn’t this the truth in any project worth undertaking? I am happy to share the first few images sent to me from the contractor!

The walls of my tiny art studio went up.

©2018 Suzanne Gibbs, Tiny Studio Build. Door and window.
©2018 Suzanne Gibbs, Tiny Studio Build. Door and window as viewed through the structure.
©2018 Suzanne Gibbs, Tiny Studio Build. Tiny and tall!
©2018 Suzanne Gibbs, Tiny Studio Build. Plywood sheathing is attached. This side will face the street (that was my hope and plan).
©2018 Suzanne Gibbs, Tiny Studio Build. Door and window with plywood sheathing. This side will face the main house.

I didn’t notice, at this stage, that the roof was sloped in the wrong direction. I was completely overjoyed to simply see progress being made and for my dream to come to life! Soon, I’d have a dedicated place to work that was all my own, not rented and if I had to move, I could!

More on this adventure to follow!

Sketchbook for The Sketchbook Project

This video is a page by page view and reading of my January 2019 Sketchbook for The Sketchbook Project in Brooklyn, New York City.

Using found materials and collage I tell a story of creating love.

The Brooklyn Art Library hosts thousands of sketchbook made by artists from around the world. This sketchbook is my third and final submission to the project.

Reason To Draw

Do you need a reason to draw?

Have you set in motion a resolution to draw more, make more art, write more, get better at painting or some other creative journey?

We are in the time of year for resolutions.

For some the resolution is loose weight, or make more money, or find a new job. In the circles I travel in, many people want to up their art practice, they want to draw better, or build on a skill that could make a difference in the art they make. This is all great. But I am also noticing that some people feel like there is a noose around their neck forcing them to think that they must draw and create or else they are not an artist. Or worse, not a worthy human being.

The best reason to draw is because you want to. You have something to say that is best expressed in ink and paint.

Still, you’re stuck. I can relate. Even if I used all my art supplies all year long, I might still have some supplies left over in 2020. Except sketchbooks!

Suzanne Gibbs ©2018, Face Detail, sketchbook page.

Last year when this happened to me—feeling stuck, blue, wanting to give up my creative practice—I simply decided to fill one sketchbook as messy as possible in one month. An anything goes mess. Some days I did nothing. Other days I furiously filled many pages. Then, at some point I began to draw over and even paint over previous days work. Essentially censoring myself or obliterating whatever it was I had to say.

Interestingly when I shared the work on-line the comments I got were that I am not at all messy! This was not what I expected, at all.

What I learned from the experience (I did several months in a row like this) was that I had some pent up emotions that needed a place to land. I used a lot of Stabilo woody crayons (child-like), collage (cutting up and putting things back together), and black or blue paint (moody).

The point is: I showed up as me to fill the pages.

I did not get all hung up in my head about who I think I should be as an artist. I did not project the idea of perfection in my voice. That monkey brain tried to tell me that I was wasting my time. I was simply keeping a promise to myself: fill a sketchbook as messy as possible in one month.

Of course some days I felt like I was wasting my time, I did the work anyway.

Now my sketchbooks are getting more “pretty” again. More focused and more drawing practice. Fine, this is good for now. And I will be OK with that time when I need to get moody and messy on the page again.

Give yourself permission to scribble like a child would, it is ok!

And if I haven’t sparked your desire to draw, maybe this article will!

Suzanne Gibbs, ©2018, Grid Face Fancy Hat, mixed media, 4 x 6 inches.

Thanks for reading, and please share your work with me! Anytime, anywhere.

Keep Your Monkey Happy

What are you going to do this week to keep your monkey happy?

Draw?

Stare out the window?

Sit in you comfortable studio chair?

Suzanne Gibbs, ©2018, Grid Face Happy Monkey, mixed media, 4 x 6 inches.

Read an art book?

Make tea?

Sketch an idea?

Paint?

Eat too many cookies?

Complain?

Stretch a canvas?

Worry?

Order the supply you need to start your next project?

Skip a rope?

Make excuses?

Learn a new technique?

Is it the monkey that you want happy or you? Only you know what will work best for you to move your studio practice forward.

Choose to do that thing that makes your monkey away. We can’t wait to see what you make. Share and repeat. Your art makes a difference to many and to one—you!

Gramps or a Parrot and a Pirate

At first I saw a grandpa-like figure. Today, I see a parrot on the shoulder of a pirate!

Suzanne Gibbs, ©2018, Grid Face Gramps, mixed media, 4 x 6 inches.

As an artist I work hard to make sure I understand the work I am making. That I am being true to my aesthetics and visual voice.

On days like today when my own work surprises me, I am reminded why I love the use of visual communication. The variations on interpretation are endless and enchanting.

If you’re an artist, do you think about how other people perceive and react to your work or do you just go along making work and more work… never considering the audience?

Maybe the only audience is YOU!

I believe that all of our decisions as visual communicators matter. To make work that matters, the details matter. Work is executed from the very first light bulb of an idea and fleshed out, often in series. The completion of the project is a series of important decisions. All of what happens in the studio matters. What we have to say as artists, at any level, matters.

Do’no

I do’no much about many things, but I do know a thing or two about art!

  1. I love being in my studio making.
  2. I love viewing art, especially the tough stuff that makes me think beyond my current visual thinking strategies.
  3. I love being in community with other artists.
Suzanne Gibbs, ©2018, Grid Face Do’no, mixed media, 4 x 6 inches.

Naturally, to keep the love flowing, I keep making art, I view art regularly as a part of my studio habits, and I make a huge effort to hang out with other artists in person.

Yep, my life in a nutshell!