Category Archives: Art Practice

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!

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 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.

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 trajectory).

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.

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 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.

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.


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!


Keep Making Art

Most of my followers know by now that I closed the doors to Silly Girl Factory. The question I keep getting is why? Aren’t you going to keep making art?

The answer is yes, yes I am and I will keep making art.

I will keep making art under my own name: Suzanne Gibbs.

My art will now only be sold through me or my website.

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

Basically, these are the only changes. All other changes are hair splitting categories and arbitrary divisions.

I will keep making art, because I love sharing the work I do!

Here is a video of a happy customer. She is an Art Coach, Business Owner, advocate for the arts, and patron of the arts! Whew! Thanks Alyson B. Stanfield for all of the work you do!


24 Hours Left

In just over one full day, a short 24 hours, Silly Girl Factory is closing.

At midnight tomorrow July 2, 2018, I will be closing production and sales as Silly Girl Factory. She’s served me well as I inched my way back into making my own art, again… life is a process of learning and re-learning.

I opened Silly Girl Factory for business 24 days before my son’s horrific accident in October of 2016. I closed factory while I lived in Boulder Colorado to help him heal and navigate hospitals. Silly Girl Factory stayed closed while I worked for another artist in 2017. This was the year I began to heal from the trauma of being with an adult child 24/7 that needed to learn everything from scratch, including learning how to breathe.

I search for strength and resilience.

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

Then I felt compelled to re-open my Silly Girl Factory production in January of 2018.

I reopened my Silly Girl Factory Etsy Shop and launched a Zazzle shop—PLUS I operated an actual bricks and mortar shop too! Three months in, and I began to wonder why I was making the work I was doing. I was finding that I was unable to finish projects that initially felt so exciting and intriguing.

It hurts when this happens. When the list of projects is long and compelling, but not juicy enough for my creative energy to follow though. I doubted myself, I doubted my artistic abilities. Studio time was getting ugly, still I persisted.

I called friends, mostly artists.

I wrote in my journal regularly.

I sketched in my sketchbook everyday.

I kept making art—it was admittedly all over the place, in style and in content. I even wrote and finished a book!

During my time of confusion, I did not neglect my feelings or my business. I kept posting to social media, but now I had 2 locations! Both Silly Girl Factory and Suzanne Gibbs Art. This quickly got tiresome and confusing. I kept asking myself: What is my identity as an artist?

I took time alone in odd places to reevaluate. A solo trip to a dive diner was one of the places I sought refuge!

Salt Shaker at Stars Diner

A juicy commission came along during this time. The client requested 5 dog portrait paintings!

All of a sudden I was awake nearly 24 hours a day. Working day and night, then working through the day again. I was excited to make really good work for her. Painting on wood cradled panels and using Flashe paint for the first time, I was smitten!

My confidence soared.

My confusion did too!

Silly Girl Factory as a brand was feeling restrictive rather than expansive. I began to wonder if I was hiding behind silly, when much of the time I am actually quite serious, albeit also often very naive. Even as I write this I wonder, why am I letting go? I am letting go because I am hoping my voice as an artist will come through, without Silly Girl as the face and branding of the work.

Illustraion Detail, ©2018 Suzanne Gibbs for Silly Girl Factory, Hope, water color and ink on paper, 12 x 9 inches, NFS

Please join me as I move into this next journey. One of owning up to and living and painting as me—Suzanne Gibbs—my art.

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

In 24 Hours I will close the doors to Silly Girl Factory and put this chapter behind me.

On July 4th I leave for a trip to go fly fishing with my father in Canada. I will be back in the studio and in production on new work on July 16, 2018.

While I recharge I urge you to live my fortune cookie: Be brave enough to live creatively.

Excellent Fortune Cookie! Cracked open be Suzanne Gibbs in 2018.

The sky is the limit! For all of us, if we let our heart speak. Namaste.

Image of sky

Everything in my Etsy shop is 33% off. Last day, last chance, then the work goes into my archives. Use SHOPCLOSING to get your discount.

Silly Girl Factory is CLOSING

On July 2, 2018 I will be closing the doors of Silly Girl Factory forever.

Until then, please visit my Etsy store with a generous Store Closing discount and help me bid farewell to Silly Girl Factory.

I am going to focus ALL my efforts on my Fine Art paintings.

Grids From Within is a series of multi colored checkerboard paintings that are personal portraits made as an invitation for viewers to move into contemplation and curiosity. Several pieces are already for sale.

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

I am super excited about the new direction of my work and business, I hope you’ll join me in my nervous and excited journey!

New Art. New Style. New way to reach me!

You can now reach me at my new email address: Please take a moment to update your address book.

Thank you

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