Category Archives: Art Practice

Ever Wonder…

Have you ever wondered what goes on inside an artists studio or better yet, have you wondered where artists get their thoughts and ideas, how the research is conducted, and what decisions are made for the subsequent output?

Suzanne Gibbs, ©2019, Never Ladder, painting on wood panel with mixed media collage, 24 x 24 inches. $4,200

Wonder no longer…

I have decided to share as much of what I do and how I do it as possible. In fact, I have already been sharing my story on this blog for years. I have been giving away my time, ideas, and research energy in blog posts for 10 years now!

Ten years is a long time and a lot of blog posts (and videos). Over 550 posts on this website.

I am forever grateful to all of my devoted readers. Some of you are so devoted, that I could hug you! Do you feel my love? 😉

The time for change has come! I have found a platform online that allows me to cater to my audience (you) and also supports the work I do to make sharing my journey possible.

  1. Maybe you are one of those people who gets really inspired creatively when you hear about the art I am making, sharing, selling, and exhibiting—and how I go about doing this. I am so glad!
  2. Maybe I have taught you a thing or two. Cool! 😉
  3. Maybe I have made you smile or think about something that without me dropping into your in-box, you would not have veered down that thought path…yippee!

I am sure you can tell (especially those of you who read every post) that I love to share what’s going on in my life and creative journey.

The thing is… blogging these days is not like years past. Having a steady and consistent presence on the internet is not free (it never was, but it has gotten more expensive). I am ready to go out on a limb. I need your help. I am searching for a two-way street. One where you get the information you have come to enjoy and trust, and one where I get paid to do the work I love. Are you with me?

There is a way for me to share blog posts, images, stories, video, have chat rooms, and more…

The place I am taking about is: Patreon.

Patreon is a site where art lovers like you can support the work of creators you admire and artists who make work that matters—to you.

Let’s stop for a little video break! Just because! 🙂

OK, back to regular programming and the Ever Wonder… theme of today’s post. For many years now, especially when sales were slow or non-existent, I self-financed my art career (many artists do this). Did you ever wonder how I did and do the work I do? Of course, I am prepared to keep financing my own work if I have to, however the power of patrons, supporters, and fans—whatever you’d like to call YOU—would make a tremendous difference in what I could create and share.

Being a financial fan goes way beyond a dollar amount… way way beyond. You see, a single dollar or five thousand dollars a month tells me:

Suzanne, your work matters to me, you’ve touched my life, I have loved watching your career, I am excited for you, I want to be a part of your success, watching you has been an inspiration to me, and I can’t wait to see what you’ll do next!

I am an artist. I share my vision of the world and what the world could be like with the ideas we imagine and discuss, together. Patreon can help us.

Two things happened that led me to the path of choosing to ask for patronage via Patreon.

Thing One—In 2011, my father asked me a question about my blogging. At the time I was writing 2 or more articles per week; including artist interviews with photographed, curated studio visits and researched essays. He asked me: “How do you get paid for all the work and hours you put into these articles? It is clear to me that you are not rushing through the writing, the research, and your ideas. What is your plan for income.” I could chalk this up to a “Dad comment,” but he had and has a good point. How DO creatives get paid?

Allow me to continue.

Thing Two—In 2016, a friend and collector told me that it was hard to follow and understand my work on social media and my blog because she wasn’t sure what I was focusing on (we met in 2012). She felt like even though she loved my work and cared about my success, she wondered why my projects were all over the place. Ouch! She, like my father, had really good insight for me!

When my Dad and a collector friend send me clear love and support, I listen.

It was really hard to hear this feedback and harder yet to change. You’ll notice the 8 and 3 year gaps until today in 2019! I’ll be honest, when I dug deep (the problem was hidden) I realized that I was scrambling to find and make that “thing” that would sell. I thought that shear hard work and constant blog and social media posting would be enough to get “found” and my work would fly out of my studio and off my gallery walls. I had some growing up to do.

I had to face facts. I was chasing the elusive carrot and the brass ring on the merry-go-round. Hoping for easy sales and growth of my fan base.

The chase is over… because I expect more integrity from myself and the work I make.

If I were to continue on the path I had created, not only would my work never improve, neither would my income or my reach. My passion for making visual statements through painting insisted that I find an alternative.

Suzanne Gibbs, ©2019, Black & Blue Double Smile, painting on wood with mixed media collage, 36 x 36 inches. $7200 Available directly from my studio.

Ever Wonder… how I came to the conclusion that my integrity as an artist matters? I started with the idea of doing less. I had only one goal for 2019. Make better art.

If you have followed me this year, you have watched me make better art. I wish you could see the work in person, because I have made really solid work. Visually exciting from far away and even more interesting from up close! Plus a whole lot of research and craft going into the work.

Also, I still write blog articles and make video of my work. This can be shared via Patreon just as easily as it has been here on my website and in your email box.

Thankfully.

Now back to Thing One and Thing Two.

Thing One, My Dad still reads my blog, and comments, and reminds me (along with my Mom) that I have been making and sharing the artists path since I was 6 years old. When he thinks I have forgotten my way he’ll say: “remember when…” and he’ll share yet another story of a time when I led our immediate and extended family through art projects that were my own, and I included them in the process. Wow, we sure have had fun throughout the years! And about my friend, Thing Two, hopefully the next time I see her, she will have a different nugget of savvy business feedback for me. And she will not be telling me that, “you are all over the place.”

So, dear reader, this blog post has been long and heartfelt. I have written to say:

Wonder no more, I am an artist, and I wish to share this journey with you.

This is my last blog post from my website (unless things change, as we all know they always do). To follow my journey, and to get inspired on yours—join me on Patreon.

Look for this button (it will be smaller). Click it to support this artist. Thanks!

PS. There will continue to be a tiny bit of free content on Patreon, to get your free content follow the link to Patreon and use the follow button instead of the green become a Patron button.

PSS. Did this post make you interested in my past forays of blogging? See how far I have come: Blogger 1, Blogger 2, Blogger 3. No comments! Haha, practice makes perfect!

Foundwork, a new online community

This is a super short blog post. Perfect for people looking to connect directly with artists around the globe.

Foundwork is a new community online that showcases artists work. This is NOT a place to buy art. This is not a place for looking at random feeds of art and scrolling along. Foundwork IS a place to go for original art—searchable by artist Suzanne Gibbs), format (painting, collage, mixed media), attributes (abstract, figurative), location, and schools.

Find me on Foundwork here. Or you can stay here on my website.

And of course, eye candy from me to you.

Suzanne Gibbs, ©2019, Boa Constrictor, painting on wood with mixed media collage, 48 x 36 inches. $4200

PS. Wish me luck! I applied for a $10,000 grant from Foundwork. If I am chosen, this would be a game changer! What would I do? Rent a space and show my work! Make a catalog and solicit galleries and art agents! I will still do all of this, but of course money can make things happen faster.

 

Venturing Out

For those of you following my journey, you’ll know that in late June I embarked on a personally created artist residency (typically artist residencies are about going somewhere else to make art in a new community, I reversed the idea and focused in from home-base).

I am pleased to report that I have nearly 20 paintings finished. I found so much joy while working 8 to 16 hour days painting, thinking about painting, preparing and finishing paintings, imagining the next painting, mixing colors, and having a photographer come to my studio to take professional images.

My world has swirled with flurried activity—then crashing into deep sleep late at night or even occasional mid-afternoon naps.

Now the time has come to venture out of my studio and bring the work to my community—you and others!

Suzanne Gibbs, ©2019, Tea Cup Face, painting on wood with mixed media, 14 x 11 inches. $1000

This new series began to take root last summer. I was re-purposing envelopes. Specifically, the inside patterns from security envelops to create art for Art-O-Mat. The more envelopes that I cut open and tore apart the more I began to think about the use and meaning of a product as banal as an envelope.

Security envelopes are taken for granted. They do their job of hiding critical information. The envelopes gave me entry to a question I have had locked inside of me for years. Are social norms that we all, and especially myself, take for granted working like security envelopes?

I questioned the function of the product—and by extension, my role in social norms. For me, my new series: “Shhh, Say Nothing” is about stories hidden inside ourselves.

The curiosity and confusion I feel is expressed through abstract portraits.

Below, is an image of one of the first collage pieces I made when I was in the development stage of this new body of work.

Suzanne Gibbs, ©2019, Shhh, Say Nothing Series study, Flashe paint mixed media collage.

Nothing To Say

Since January of this year I have been working on a new body of work. The working title for this series is: Nothing To Say.

The work is challenging me in new ways. Instead of painting spontaneously and with great emotion, I am slowing down. Creating tons of drawings in my sketchbook leads to many more ideas than I could ever execute. Spending at least a half hour early every morning morning—before coffee, before the sun wakes up—writing in a notebook I sift out and capture what I wish to say visually.

I began the year thinking I had nothing to say. A day at a time my thinking has changed.

My morning view

Below is a video of one of many full sketchbook of faces and character studies.

Each larger painting begins with a fully realized smaller study. Using collage, I cut up security envelopes and assemble them into abstract faces. This satisfies my fascination of how we use pattern to obliterate information.

Suzanne Gibbs ©2019, Nothing To Say Series, Tea Cup Brow, flashe paint, ink, gouache, collage on paper, 5 x 7, $200

After sizing up the study to fit the new format on a cradled wood panel of 14 x 11 inches, I begin to lay down the paint on the new larger size.

Work in progress.

Seeing the work larger has me thinking of so many new ideas. I now have more visual problems to solve, based on what I want the painting to communicate.

I am finding that I do have something to say!

Somehow the idea of a zipped mouth came to me. Maybe during a brisk cold morning walk? Anyways, once the idea came I knew that the execution needed to be flawless. The paint I use and the message I want to communicate has no room for “do overs” or layering of paint to make it right. I want the work to BE just so and correct on my first try. This required drawing studies of zippers, over and over again.

Zipper study.

When the pieces are fully complete, I include a great deal of detail on every piece. With that comes the need for just the right sized brush!

Sampling of brushes. The smallest ones are 0 size, the largest are a 6 flat.

I add details over the flat surfaces of paint. I have skipped discussing my color choices in this blog post for brevity sake.

Zipper detail.
Eye and nose detail.

The final work made me feel really excited about this new direction. I have since completed 4 more pieces that I will unveil soon. And this morning I began a sixth in the series.

Suzanne Gibbs, ©2019, Tea Cup Face, flashe paint and posca pen on cradled wooden panel, 14 x 11 inches, $450

In Nothing To Say, I have combined faces or characters, household objects, and flat areas of color juxtaposed with painted patterns. The deliberate creation of detailed patterns represent repetitive labor that goes under-appreciated and often unpaid.

Security envelope detritus.

My inspiration came from the insides of security envelopes—a product made as protection for the contents within. However, in actuality they obliterate the message, and usually the contents are related to financial affairs.

The zipped mouth alludes to the unheard voices of the unnoticed many. And, once again, I am finding I do have something to say.

Curiously Creative Life

I have been thinking about how I can best share with you about how I live a curiously creative life—most especially in respect to visual voice.

My entire life has been about creating connection with others, typically through my creative pursuits. I use my unique visual voice to create, inform, delight, teach, and coax curiosity in others. I share of myself generously with all kinds of people because this really matters to me.

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Business Owners
  • Contractors
  • Artists
  • Real Estate Professionals
  • Doctors and Dentists
  • Landlords
  • Cafe and Shop Owners
  • Market staff (I did a lot of grocery shopping while raising two boys)
  • Post Office Service Clerk(s)
  • …and so on.

Each of the people most dear to me in my life seem to choose to live outside of a ho hum ordinary existence. The thread that I see is creativity and curiosity. Not the “draw a straight line” creatives! No, what I mean is the people that do what they love, and find meaning in menial or even repetitive work.

People that do their jobs with joy are endlessly curious about how to do things differently and more collaboratively.

I live my curiously creative life by constantly asking questions. I add play into every week—usually outside or in my sketchbooks. Laughing and crying become fodder for innovation in my work. On a good day, I know that what I feel and think matters.

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

I want my art to help others to see the world differently— I whimsically initiate curiosity.

I start with a million questions.

Every single day I write in my journal to capture barely awake before coffee musings. I ask myself questions over and over again. What is it I wish the world to know? What matters to me so much but I am afraid to tell anyone?

How do I want to brighten the existence of other humans through my creative voice?

When did I first realize I have a unique vision of the world? Have I realized my unique vision and voice yet?

How can I best help myself to express my most prized and dearly held ideas, innovations, love and angst?

I pursued a graduate degree in both communication and fine art, that’s how much the idea of sharing my gifts with the world matters to me—4 years in classrooms and library study + studio time beyond college.

Visual voice matters to me.

In my lifetime, my dream is that I can bring about positive change through my and our collective voices. The world is full of too much information these days (and not all of it is positive or helpful). I can post on social media like crazy and reach no one at all or millions of people!

It makes sense to me to know my deepest core values and artistic voice so that I am getting heard for what matters most. The rest is useless extra noise.

A curiously creative life takes daily effort.

My new work is challenging me to dig deeper into my artistic visual voice. Below is the first of a new series of work.

Suzanne Gibbs, ©2019, Tea Cup Face, flashe paint and posca pen on cradled wooden panel, 14 x 11 inches, $450

Sketchbook March 2019 + Plus

Recently I had to move out of my studio. While doing so I found two sketchbooks that I had started, but never finished. Determined to not let the pages go to waste, I began filling the back half of the sketchbook(s). Shared here is one of the two books.

In the beginning I found that a few pages were not as complete as I wished so I went ahead and drew on top of what I had created in 2017 and then also moved forward and filled the book.

Filling an older book is not nearly as much fun as taking out a new book to fill and imagine the rules and possibilities for the pages. However, I did find that by following through on the idea of filling what had not been filled I was forced to look back at my work. With that came some self evaluation. A good step in a solid studio practice.

The pages did get filled, but the more important part was the lesson I taught myself.

Primarily, I kept a promise to myself—I filled the pages.

Keeping promises can be tough when there is no boss, no one clamoring for the work, and what I promised to myself felt dull once I started. Still, I did the work. So, without further explanation I bring to you my March 2019 plus previous work from 2017, sketchbook page turner!

As always, if you like the work and even if you don’t feel free to comment. Let’s have a dialogue about keeping studio promises!

Sketchbook March 2019

My March 2019 sketchbook is a different size than February’s book. Due to travel, I worked in a smaller sketchbook that I could carry in my bag.

Join me below for a sketchbook page turner!

Represented in these pages are drawings made in several locations. Dinner guests in Eugene, Oregon. Railroad museum in Portland, Oregon. Lunch in Arcata, California. And I even stopped in the Redwood National Forest in Del Norte California to draw elk in the wild.

Interested in more sketchbook pages? Please visit my blog (and use the search feature to find sketchbooks). You may prefer to visit my YouTube Channel. When and if you do, please hit like or subscribe to follow the work as I make it, thanks.

Mini-Art Book

The following video is made for you. Contemplate whether you have room in your life for your creativity and visual voice.

In February, a friend sent me a handmade mini-book. In return, I made one for him. Then I filmed the pages before I sent the work.

I believe that sharing and gratitude creates joy!

Sharing a Suzanne Gibbs original Mini-Book here, brings me joy. I believe that we can live our best life when we open up to our creativity no matter how small the project, no matter how trivial that work might seem.

In my studio practice, I hope to always have room for even the tiniest of projects, because little sparks of joy make room for larger good work.

To share your gratitude, click on over to YouTube and hit like!

February 2019, Art-O-Mat Project

Every few months I create art for Art-O-Mat. Why? Because the art is sold for a mere $5! This allows people who would normally not purchase original art a chance to own an original Suzanne Gibbs piece. And for those that do often purchase original art, a bargain piece for their collection.

Here is a look into my process for making 50 art blocks.

An insiders look at the process I use to create art blocks for the Art-O-Mat project.

This project is also known as Artists In Cellophane. This time I created 50 blocks with drawings on both sides.

For more on this project view these previous posts here and here.

Deepening Your Visual Voice

Artists become more successful when they tightly focus their work and visual voice. I am currently exploring ways to deepen my visual voice.

Let me tell you, this is NOT easy!

Suzanne Gibbs, ©2019, Character from a collection of 50 blocks for Art-O-Mat Artists in Cellophane.

While I work on my work I also find myself helping other artists.

I love this work. To help fellow artists with the work of deepening their personal visual voice and message—such joy. This seems to come naturally to me, especially when I visit artists in person in their studio space.

But… seeing my own work with an objective eye has been ever so much more difficult!

I’ll keep working on being more me, I know it will be worth it in the end!

Suzanne Gibbs, ©2019, Character from a collection of 50 blocks for Art-O-Mat Artists in Cellophane.

I also adore talking to artists about getting unstuck when their work begins to feel stale or uninteresting. I could talk about studio habits for a long time. I have all sorts of ideas for encouraging the nagging inner voice that wants to squash ideas. Allowing the personal voice to emerge, when our earthly existence wants to resist, is the work of a creative.

Resistance is real, folks!

Resistance can derail a great project before it even gets a grip, roots, or a body. Resistance can leave a seed of an idea bereft and dead. Steven Pressfield calls this work the war, the battle, that thing that needs to be wrung or beaten into submission.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be kinder and gentler to myself.

Suzanne Gibbs, ©2019, Character from a collection of 50 blocks for Art-O-Mat Artists in Cellophane.

For me kindness = asking questions and remaining curious.

My curiosity has led me down many wonderful paths. I’ve written books, produced art and drawings, and worked as a graphic designer. My kindness and refusal to go to battle with my creativity has made my work better. I appreciate the gentle generosity in myself that has led me to wonderful relationships and a sweet life.

My visual voice is emerging from me with continued practice, not fight.

Suzanne Gibbs, ©2019, Character from a collection of 50 blocks for Art-O-Mat Artists in Cellophane.

I can attest to the fact that as a human I am more and more content these days with who I am and where my art belongs. The space I take physically, emotionally, and spiritually in the world seems just right.

I practice self care along with studio practice, do you?