I work towards my version of excellence daily, but sometimes I haven’t taken enough time to realize the fun I have been having along the way.
This is what I know.
My version of excellence is softer and more to do with relationships—family, friends, and strangers that learn of me and from me through my work. Connection to others and to our planet/earth in quiet moments of contemplation and curiosity are a special unique gifts. A life well lived, for me, includes plenty of time for rest, writing, drawing, painting, and reading.
Today, I am publicly celebrating a beautiful accomplishment, even though typically I tend to resist celebrating my accomplishments. You see, I was taught that A grades, awards, and/or money are the things worth celebrating. So if I don’t reach the top, then the work doesn’t matter. Right? Only excellence counts! What? Who decides what excellence is? With a limited edition art book, the goal of excellence was never about the awards or money—the goal, the dream and vision, was about connection and growth.
I was, and still am, interested in what I could learn and what others could teach and share. I am curious as to how and if there can be change and evolution in how we value women’s experiences and voices. I am interested in building connections that can grow and nourish my future work.
Now I know. I know that I can celebrate.
There has not been an award, nor has there been a windfall of money from the first round of Shhh book sales. However, I am pleased to report that 50 Shhh books are out in the wild world being enjoyed by readers. Fifty out of a planned 100 limited edition copies are already circulating.
Only 50 more will ever be printed!
I will be doing my next book order in October (for a show I have in Los Angeles in November, more on that later). So, if you are “on the fence” or have thought about getting a copy, but you missed the first round, then please be sure to let me know that you are excited to have your copy.
I am creating an interest list. Please Please Please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org to have your name added. I will let you know as soon as I have ordered some more books!
You don’t want to miss out! 😉 Ahhh, true excellence! You, believing in me, thanks!
Okay! I am off now to have some fun. Also, I have had fun hearing from all the new readers of Shhh, thank you special people for helping me on my way to excellence. Namasté
Hello. I really hope that you are healthy and coping with our new global reality. Times are _________________ (I graciously allow you to fill in the blank with your own word or expletive!). Ok, now that you have gotten this off your chest, let me ask you, what does it mean to you to simplify ones life? Is simplifying to find calmness even possible under our current circumstances? Maybe. Let’s explore.
In its most basic form to simplify means to make things easier. Certainly to live easier is a worthwhile practice and for piece-of-mind these days. But how do we arrive at a simplification of daily life? Especially when everything about life is not the same as it was a few weeks ago.
As a creative, and someone that has spent hours upon hours alone making work, I have a few ideas about simplification and remaining calm. Because, you see, to get to the core of my voice creatively I need to clear away extraneous noise and ideas. My work needs to be simply my own in order to be most truthful and honest. I am compelled to attempt to share with you the importance of moving our mindset to simple moments as well as living with more simplicity to invite a calmer mind.
I will start with the idea of a single weed. One weed. What does it take to remove one weed from the ground? Let’s get down and dirty. Following is a basic narrative of how to pull a single weed in the yard and how we can seek simplicity in a single weed. Let’s begin. I go outside and walk into the yard. I see the weed. The one among many that must be pulled, right now. I bend down, I grab the sucker as close to the dirt as possible, allowing the dirt to gather in my fingernails as needed. I’ll squeeze on that special spot on the plant between the weed that is showing above ground and the roots of the weed that hold it in place underground. Once my fingers find that sweet spot and I am sure I have a firm grip, I pull. As the weed begins to release from the soil, I may reposition my fingers a little lower on the root to get more traction. Then I pull with a bit more force while also making sure to wiggle my arm just so… so that the whole root pulls loose from the dirt, thereby not leaving room for the darn ting to regrow in the same spot from a small root part that remains under the soil. For the duration of time it takes to perfectly pull one weed my mind is fully occupied on the task at hand. There is no room for noise, because if I do then a few things may happen. I find myself holding leaves and not the whole weed, or there are prickers in my skin from the plant that are now hurting the tips of my fingers, or I hear the pop of the root breaking underground and now I know that this root will soon grow back stronger. One moment. All we need to do these days is live in one moment at a time pulling our own internal and external weeds. We can only do our best. If the last moment was not our best, we have the next moment to try again. When we live totally and completely in the moment life is at its simplest.
I have 2 things to share to allow you to expand upon this idea of simplifying.
First, an article that I found at least 2 years ago (and forgot to share with you, but I am now) that seems even more pertinent today, centered around the idea of simplifying one’s life. A link to the article is here.
Secondly, I am sharing a coloring book page. My thought is this, I have art from a few years ago that I can share, and I am happy to give you a gift for allowing me to be in your email box every month.
If you would like to get a coloring book page more often then please join me on Patreon. Every Sunday I will share a new coloring book page—fun for adults and appropriate for kids. Coloring is a proven way to relax ones mind and find a calmer existence. We all need calm right now. Coloring is simple, just you the paper and crayons, marker, or colored pencils.
I wish for the world to be a kinder and gentler place. I wish for all people to be treated equally, or at the very least valued in equal measure.
My wish is to connect with women who want to change the status quo.
I wish for women to bear witness to each others stories so that healing and change can begin.
My obstacle is my introverted nature.
I’d really rather be alone painting, writing, and generally enjoying solitude. However, I realize that connection and change can only happen when people connect with one another. That’s what lead me to watch the following TEDx talk. If Isolation is a dream killer, then what is the solution?
For me, connection happens through research and painting and writing—all jumbled in my own private universe. Imagining utopia of my own creation. Maybe you see this in the work I create? Maybe you think I ought to get out more and interact with the world?
I am strangely grateful for this time with the COVID-19 self isolation recommendations. At the same time, I honestly hope this does not last a long time and I hope that the spread of the disease becomes less and less furious.
Ok, either way—staying in or going out. I know that connection outside of my internal world—will move me closer to my dreams and wishes—eventually! What is your wish and what is the obstacle? Can I help? If not me, then who?
These are such great questions! Let’s reach out and continue to help one another from the phone, internet, and text messaging. Sending my prayers and love into the world.
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?
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.
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!
Maybe I have taught you a thing or two. Cool! 😉
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…
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
First, let me say and send my deepest condolences to the family, friends, and devoted readers of Toni Morrison.
Now I’d like to say what inspired me to write about Toni Morrison today.
I found a quote about her from her family on Lit Hub Daily that touched and rocked me to the core.
Here is the quote:
“It is with profound sadness we share that, following a short illness, our adored mother and grandmother, Toni Morrison, passed away peacefully last night surrounded by family and friends. She was an extremely devoted mother, grandmother, and aunt who reveled in being with her family and friends. The consummate writer who treasured the written word, whether her own, her students or others, she read voraciously and was most at home when writing. Although her passing represents a tremendous loss, we are grateful she had a long, well lived life.”
My whole life—short life at 54—I have wrestled with art vs. family priorities and passions. This quote serves as an example to me to no longer struggle, but to instead embrace the two parts of my passions and deep love as being equally valid and important.
I’ll take a step forward and publicly feel what it would be like if an obituary had been written about me. However, before I do, I’d like to let you know that I have a goal of living to be 100! My grandmother was in her 90’s when she passed away, my goal is 100% humanly possible! So, I am in no way saying: Off I go!
Now for the rewrite, as if I had died:
It is with profound sadness we share that, following a short illness, our cherished Suzanne Gibbs, passed away peacefully surrounded by family and friends. She was an extremely devoted, sensitive, and tender person who reveled in spending time with her family and dearest friends. The inimitable artist who treasured the creative force within all of us was most at home while painting. She filled her soul when playing in nature—on hikes, especially among trees and on water or in water. Although her death represents a tremendous loss, we are grateful she had a long and well lived life.
Again, Toni Morrison, you will be missed and you will always be loved for the creative work you brought into this world. May you rest in peace.
Dear readers, I invite you to consider today what is most important to you—and go for it! There is so much sadness in the world and in our country, I send you love. When we are together, we will hug. Namasté
For inquiry about purchasing art on this post click here.
For the first time I sat down in front of my work—as yet unfinished—and I talked about the work. Unscripted. Unplanned. Raw and real words about the series of work I am calling: Say Nothing. I present my work here as a prelude to a hatching Patreon page later in 2019.
I am a little worried as I share this that I am not the right person to start the conversation, but I feel compelled to do so. In a few weeks time I will keep sharing stories of why I am doing this, and I also hope to bring you the stories of other women.
Would you like to share your story of unpaid labor and the difference it made to the people you care about? Contact me, I’d love to chat!
I have been a part of the sketchbook skool community since 2014! What an honor to be interviewed for a student spotlight recently! Thank you SBS for ALL you do to help others to nurture their creativity. (more…)
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.
Real Estate Professionals
Doctors and Dentists
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.
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.