Crafting a Life, Part 2

Edited. Originally published on May 21, 2012.

These things are true about me, crafting my life.

I made art as a baby, crafted as a child, and studied art as a young adult. As a yound adult I made my living in graphic design work. Throughout my life I studied art again, and then again and again—always a student. My favorite form of communication is visually and in writing. Crafting and creating a life is beautiful and artful living matters.

My childhood can be measured in creative phases: I have painted, drawn, cross-stitched, quilted, sewed, puppet crafted, made art with yarn and fabric, card crafted, knitted, clay + ceramic building, learned batik, made macramé, put together plastic model airplanes, used fire to fuse encaustic, installed art installations, and authored books. Constantly creating with my hands and heart. My mind got involved later when I studied to receive my MFA.

An Original Suzanne Utaski (my maiden name), created in ceramics class 8th grade. Inspired by Goodnight Moon.

In recent weeks I have been consumed with the idea of helping artists to more fully express their visual voice. To calibrate a newly crafted way of life, I believe we need the voices of all kinds of people to mingle, listen, and share.

I feel as though I am uniquely qualified to do this work. As I mentioned, I started expressing my creative voice as a child. In addition to arts and crafts, I regularly created costumes and dressed up. I did performances with friends, for friends, with family and for family. My life as a child was full, provocative, and exciting. Growing up in Mexico and Brazil, I absorbed cultural differences at a very young age. Learning to love all kinds of people. Growing up without TV or the Internet allowed my imagination and utopian vision of our world to flourish.

Crafting or making things was a typical part of my play and my day in my house.

I did not know that I was very lucky to grow up this way. What I’d like to do now is help others to craft a life worth sharing. If you are reading this, implore you to follow your curiosity, and make your ideas sharable (not only on the internet).

The internet is a gift and a hindrance.

We’ve begun to loose the joy of personal expression as we swish our fingers across screens. Vicariously living through other people’s content, we loose sight of our own. I know I am guilty of social media surfing! Children as young as 9 months can be seen “playing” on their parents or their own iPhone’s or iPad’s. I fear loosing touch with their own voice, before it even has a chance to develop.

The inherent joy in crafting a life well lived is beautiful.

Making items by hand: whether we call it crafting, craftivism, studio crafting, making, creating, art, drawing, painting or whatever—the innate desire to communicate and create connection—is of huge value to humanity. Our voices matter. Communication through objects we make to share is worthy and worthwhile.

Fully realizing your voice and then learning how to best express that story is priceless.

I remember going into New York City with my mother as a teenager in 1979. We visited a museum show about American Quilts. Many of the the quilts on display in the exhibition were made by the Amish. Included also was an exploration of the tradition of quilting in America. The quilts were beautiful, the show had a historical framework that enhanced the story of the quilts and all of them were hung like paintings on the walls of the museum. At this show I could feel the passion. Art creation requires the use of the makers’ hand, heart, and voice.

I think this exhibit was possibly the beginning of my love affair with art. More specifically art made by women. The quilts represented art that was both beautiful and practical.

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

I enjoyed the quilt show so much that I spent the next year designing and making my first quilt. Entirely by hand with help from my mother.

 I crafted the quilt, for use in my own life.

Later, I took the quilt to college with me. Four years after that, I took the quilt across the country from Pittsburgh to California for my first job and apartment.

My quilt was stolen from me.

One night while enjoying a date in San Francisco my boyfriends’ car got broken into and the quilt was gone when we returned. I hoped the person that took my quilt needed the item for warmth. Instead of anger, I held the image of the thief needing the warmth of a crafted object.

To me, objects made by hand hold more value than those purchased in big box stores.

The objects made by hand can be anything: quilts, paintings, drawings, or books. What matters most is the person who made the work and that they are realizing and sharing their voice.

“Art is not a handicraft, it is the transmission of feeling the artist has experienced.” (Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy)

To me, art is craft and craft is art. My head, heart, and hands have make all the work I have ever created. I have a lifetime of experience in expressive creation.

I now have the desire to understand, share, and cultivate not only my voice but that of other artists as well.

There are those who persist in the separation of Art and Craft, and they should because it helps both sides to stretch and grow as they argue the hierarchy in arbitrarily created constructs. However, I am happy to be the middle person and persist in working and believing in both camps while helping artists to realize the importance of their own voice in whatever medium they choose.

 

Crafting a life, Part 1 can be found in this previous blog.

Walking While Musing, Episode 5

In this episode of walking while musing the wind almost got the better of me.

I am sharing the content anyway because the message is poignant.

Please turn down the sound on your device. I published this video at 18% of the volume of sound that I captured, but it is still very loud! Try to imagine wind at 100% volume and speed—that is what I was experiencing while balanced on top of a fallen log at the top of a sand dune and rotating 360° while talking and filming.

Like me, I invite you to use the wind to let go of past pain and hurt, and/or allow the difficulty of change to blow through you.

Please enjoy the following painting with curiosity and contemplation calmly after the storm of the video.

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

May you go into nature to heal. Breathe. Namaste.

Art Mastermind Workshop

In early October 2018, I traveled to Golden Colorado to go to an Art Mastermind Workshop.

The reason for the trip was to gain clarity on the future of my work as an artist. The focus of the art mastermind workshop was primarily on business practices artists can use to sell more art. A lucky few walked away with 6 month master-plans for their business. This did not happen for me. Something bigger happened.

Pluses from the art mastermind sessions.

  1. A room full of motivated artists learning from one another and sharing business success practices.
  2. Alyson B. Stanfield and Cynthia Morris—2 dynamic coaches that really want the best for their clients.
  3. Learning how much I had to share with others + how passionate I am about the success of other artists’ careers.
  4. The evening events were fun! See picture below from a boutique shopping party.

© Suzanne Gibbs trying on a pink viking knit hat.

Minuses from the overall experience.

  1. Two days of art mastermind workshop material felt really short for the amount of travel time I took to be there (2 flights plus 2, 4-hour car rides). I might have liked another 1/2 day morning session.
  2. I felt uncomfortable emotions while listening to other artists. Particularly when hearing how other artists sabotage themselves.
  3. My workshop takeaway came to me a few days after the event.

As I was preparing for the art workshop my intent was to listen, observe, and gather as much information from as many people as possible. Thinking I’d be the silent one, with little to add to the discussion, I was wrong.

The art mastermind workshop was a magic room. I learned how passionate I am about helping others to succeed in their art practices and business.

©2018 Suzanne Gibbs, notebooks of daily writing from January – October 2018.

I would have thought that my passion would be obvious to myself after 30+ years of teaching art to people of all ages. Instead, I had to learn this through how stuck I felt attempting to focus on things I thought I was supposed to do. Things like approaching galleries and other venues to show my work, or planning open studios or art and craft festival participation in 2019. Ugh, no! Sure, I want to show and share my work. I am generous! I do not make my work for my eyes alone. But I have never ever been excited about hustling to get my work in public. Not ever! I have had shows, oh yes! The best ones were when I was approached to show my work, not when I did the approaching.

I am getting off track here.

I enthusiastically endorse the Art Mastermind Workshop retreats with Alyson. You may walk away with a new 6 month focus, or like me, you may walk away with a new business plan all together. Either way, do the work and you will see results when you put yourself in a room to study art business practices with 20+ motivated and ambitious artists.

Thank you Alyson B. Stanfield!

Walking While Musing, Episode 4

This walking (sitting) while musing video focuses on the search for a path.

The constant search for a path in life, art, relationships, and more is explored while I sit on a log in this video. For many years now my exploration for a best path as an artist has been relentless. Thankfully, nature gives me pause and room to breathe.

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

Through these walking musings I will eventually learn to explain what the words unrestrained containment mean to me as the underlying concept in my work. You’ll see and hear in this video that discussing the meaning of unrestrained containment is currently very difficult for me. In time, I suspect more words will be available to explain my ideas, for now I will allow my art to do the communication of ideas.

Instead of walking, I am sitting in this video. Nature is my muse. Enjoy the video.

 

Continue to give yourself the space for contemplation and curiosity. Breathe. Namaste.

Art-O-Mat Doodle Character—Second Set of 100

I make 100 pieces of art for Art-O-Mat about twice per year.

This blog post is dedicated to showing you my process of making Art-O-Mat Art, my second Set of 100 doodle characters for 2018.

As soon as the blocks arrive, I open the box, dump them out and line them up for paint on 5 sides. This initial step is the groundwork for the fun part of the project.

The fun process starts with paper and watercolor or gouache, I paint the bodies on heavy paper. Working intuitively and trusting that I will be able to fit “bodies” onto the limbs in the form of clothing that I collage over the stick figures. I always make about 20% more than I need so that I have room for error and do not have to come back to this step.

Suzanne Gibbs ©2018, Dorky Doodle Darling for Art-O-Mat. 100 drawings on wood blocks made with flashe paint, ink, watercolor, PVA adhesive, and paper.

Collecting and ripping up tons of security envelopes that I have saved to be repurposed in this project is a job I can do while talking to my husband. These small pieces of patterned paper will become clothing.

Suzanne Gibbs, ©2018, Doodle Art Blocks for Art-O-Mat, series of 100, process image

Gluing the “outfits” onto the limbs is so much fun because at this stage the character that they will become begins to be obvious to me.

Suzanne Gibbs ©2018, Dorky Doodle Darling for Art-O-Mat. 100 drawings on wood blocks made with flashe paint, ink, watercolor, PVA adhesive, and paper.

Once they all have clothes on, I cut the heavy paper in half and stack them up for the next step.

Suzanne Gibbs ©2018, Dorky Doodle Darling for Art-O-Mat. 100 drawings on wood blocks made with flashe paint, ink, watercolor, PVA adhesive, and paper.

The faces! The mouths are the most fun, so I started with them. I forgot to take process pictures of the rest of the embellishments I do. I think this is mostly because I have to concentrate to add precisely the right details to keep the characters fun, but to also give them a story of depth beyond the stick figure they started out as.

Suzanne Gibbs ©2018, Dorky Doodle Darling for Art-O-Mat. 100 drawings on wood blocks made with flashe paint, ink, watercolor, PVA adhesive, and paper.

Once I am happy with all of the further drawing and details, then each card is glued to a block with PVA adhesive (a type of archival adhesive used in book binding). I stacked them with additional paper between each one while they dried to make sure the front images stayed clean and unmarred.

Suzanne Gibbs, ©2018, Doodle Art Blocks for Art-O-Mat, series of 100, process image

After I cut around the edges and clean them up, each block gets a word on the bottom side of the block. Often the word matched the character, or at least in my mind and imagination the word makes sense!

Suzanne Gibbs, ©2018, Doodle Art Blocks for Art-O-Mat, series of 100, process image, words for thought.

Once they are dry and checked for quality, I ship them off, back to Art-O-Mat for distribution.

Suzanne Gibbs, ©2018, Doodle Art Blocks for Art-O-Mat, series of 100, process image, stacks of finished product.

This little character stayed home with me, I simply could not part with the adorable expression.

Suzanne Gibbs, ©2018, Doodle Art Blocks for Art-O-Mat, series of 100, process image

From my previous batch of doodle characters, 10 were sold at The Smithsonian in Washington DC! The rest were sold in different places in batches of 10 or 20. I find it very exciting that my art gets to go all over the world!

Suzanne Gibbs ©2018, Image of SOLD location of a Doodle block.

Art-O-Mat Doodle Character Art, Second Set of 100 is finished!

September 2018 Sketchbook

Suzanne Gibbs Art September 2018 Sketchbook is ready!

Each month I fill a sketchbook and share it here on my blog. Comments, suggestions, ideas, and questions are welcome!

My sketchbooks are made for ME, and generously shared!

  1. Sketchbooks are my dumpling ground.
  2. I see something that I feel like drawing. I pick up my sketchbook and chunky Stabilo Woodies, gouache paint, or watercolor and just make the mess that needs to be expressed!
  3. I do not have a plan for these pages.
  4. Sometimes the pages are ugly.
  5. Sometimes the pages are notes, because the paper happens to be the most handy paper around when I need it.
  6. Sometimes I am doodling or capturing ideas from phone calls.
  7. Anything goes!
  8. I do not rip pages out!
  9. I do not work in sequential order.
  10. I do sometimes go back to a page and add more to it on a totally different day.
  11. I sometimes vandalize my own work with a thick layer of paint or collage.
  12. My sketchbooks are raw and unedited work that lays the groundwork for more specialized fine art work.

Suzanne Gibbs ©2018, Face Detail, sketchbook page.


Suzanne Gibbs Art ©2018, video sketchbook tour.

Suzanne Gibbs ©2018, 1/2 Faces drawn in my sketchbook.

Page spread from September 2018 sketchbook of Suzanne Gibbs.

100 Postcards Project

In September 2018 my goal was to make 100 painted art postcards.

Suzanne Gibbs, ©2018, 100 Postcard Series, Mixed Media, varied sizes.

100 Postcards Project required that I paint every single day. Painting smaller did not take take less time to accomplish and finish than my larger grid paintings (see below). I thought they would, I was mistaken. I found I was more concerned with details in these smaller sized art postcards. Also, necessarily I had to work with a much smaller paint brush.

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

Unfortunately, I must be honest here and report that I did not reach my goal of 100 finished postcards in September. However, I did get paint on 100 postcards in September. Through shear tenacity, late nights, and early mornings I almost reached my goal. I have 10 to finish as of this writing. How did I do it?

I kept making 100 postcards!

Even when the project seemed endless I continued to paint. When I was questioning my own sanity, I changed things up a bit. Below is an image of a card I did when I challenged myself to paint with watercolor in 1/8 inch squares! Yes, you read that right! Very tiny squares.

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

I hope to do a large painting in 2019 using this method of 1/8 inch squares + watercolor. Can you imagine how exquisite watercolor squares would be to view from far away and from close-up in tiny 1/8 inch increments of paint?

As I made more and more work, and as I was sharing the project on social media, I began noticing more fans and likes on Instagram. As a spoof on my own excitement at the momentum I was generating I began taking images of my 100 postcards in batches of 3-10—in fan shapes!

Suzanne Gibbs, ©2018, 100 Postcard Series, Mixed Media, varied sizes, $9.

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

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

Were you wondering if I use a ruler to draw straight lines?

A few people asked me this question during my month of creating 100 Postcards. I do not use rulers. Everything I painted and drew freehand. However, I do work on a cutting board that has a grid and this gives me visual reference of a grid and straight lines.

I mix paint in batches of 6 colors, with lots of water!

Suzanne Gibbs, ©2018, 100 Postcard Series, sample of mixing paint tray.

My singular focus on grids veered into a new direction when I had leftover paint and not enough time. I grabbed a larger brush and made organic shapes with the left-over paint on Fabriano postcard paper. I set these aside to dry. A few days later I saw faces in the paint. Faces! If you have followed my work at all, you already know I love painting faces almost as much as I love painting grids.

Suzanne Gibbs, ©2018, 100 Postcard Series, Mixed Media, varied sizes, $9.

Even the faces I painted were treated to grid treatment!

Suzanne Gibbs Art postcards were mailed around the world throughout September. The art that did not find owners are still available for sale.

Suzanne Gibbs, ©2018, 100 Postcard Series, Mixed Media, varied sizes, being shipped out to lucky people.

For the time being my 100 Postcards Project has come to an end! Stay tunes for my next adventure in art and books!

Walking While Musing, Episode 3

Thoughts on art and life while I am out hiking. Enjoy Episode 3 of Walking While Musing by Suzanne.

This musing focuses on the times when the path ahead feels too long and indecision needs an inner focus!

Along with a long walk comes a vary big reward at the conclusion. I view of the ocean from up high and share the view with you. Included is a full focus deep breath at the oceans edge. Please enjoy and feel free to comment.

 

Walking While Musing, Episode 2

I am happy to report that I have continued with this project! I am on number 2 of my proposed 1000 videos. Ha! Two is good. 10 is a lot. We shall see how far I get with this project! In my first video I suggested I’d make 1000 Walking While Musing episodes! Ambitious, I was.

My hope for you?

  1. Enjoy nature that I present while walking.
  2. Enjoy a deep breath.
  3. Possibly work on a creative project of your own while you listen to or watch me in the background.
  4. Get tiny glimpses into my life as a creative.

Enjoy Episode 2 of Walking While Musing by Suzanne. This musing focuses on getting rid of POOP! That which is not working in your life. Please enjoy and feel free to comment.

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.