Category Archives: Art Practice

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?

Doodle Characters Under Development

For those of you who have followed my work you’ll have already noticed that I have been drawing whimsical characters for a long time. Mostly, these drawings have remained in my sketchbooks, for years. They have also landed on any paper surface that happens to be under my pen and even on sidewalks with chalk when my children were small. This effort is what I call doodle characters under development.

Repetition and focused effort is the key to improvement.

To see a few of my past character drawings go here. Recently, I’ve been told that these characters need to lose the name: Doodle.

Suzanne Gibbs ©2019, Character 12 for Art-O-Mat. 50 ink drawings on paper adhered to wood blocks.

Doodling has the connotation of being scribbled absentminded work.

I do not fully agree with this definition for my work. Because of this I am forced to reconsider the meaning of my doodle characters and my continued use of the word doodle. Through making the characters I give them life. Once they exist, they have a visual voice.

Suzanne Gibbs ©2019, Character 15 for Art-O-Mat. 50 ink drawings on paper adhered to wood blocks.

The voice I wish for them to portray is to invite curiosity through whimsy. The characters are non-judgemental, full of life, emotional, and as much as possible I make them while being very present in the present moment. They may at first appear childish—but always contain deeper adult meanings.

I am wildly excited to share this new/old work in new ways! Especially since I have mentally re-framed what my doodle work has meant to me over the years.

While I make them and redraw them and paint them and collage them I think about how I will share their voice—which is ultimately, my voice. I have considered making t-shirts, cards, patterns, and yes, even fine art with them in the central role. All these avenues for showing the work can and will happen in the future. Still, I wonder, how will I complete the loop of the conversation that my art can and does ask for if viewers do not have access to the work in real life, right now?

This blog post is to let you know that you can view these characters almost as fast as I am making them!

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