Category Archives: In The Studio

Sketchbook March + 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!

An Artist’s Way of Working

Since I spend a lot of time thinking about Visual Voice + Studio Habits I naturally also begin to wonder about an artist’s way of working, specifically tables.

Let me start by acknowledging that there are very likely as many ways to work as there are artists in the world. The purpose of this post is not to expound upon ALL the possible ways of working!

I do want to take a look at work tables.

In my mind, there are 3 types of tables that are non-negotiable, then another list of tables that “come in handy” in an artists work space.

First, the top 3

  1. Digital
  2. Analogue
  3. Research

Let’s take a look at these tables in more detail. First the digital table.

Let’s face it, today’s artists spend time on a computer. A lot of us spend as much as 50% of our time on administrative stuff, most of which is work done digitally. There is also digitally made art, digital art records, and more. A dedicated digital desk is paramount to success. Below is a screen shot of my screen creating this post!

What I find interesting about this table is that the work can be done almost anywhere, sometimes without even having a physical table. I have been known to write a months worth of Social Media postings while sitting on a comfortable living room chair.

Some artists may prefer bringing their laptop to a local cafe. As I mentioned already, there are as many ways to work as there are artists. What we know is that a digital desk is essential.

Second, we have the analogue table.

For me, an analogue table is non-negotiable. I need a place to gather ideas through drawing and to mess around with my preferred supplies. My analogue desk is a huge 8 x 3 foot standing work table. I’d be lost without it!

©2019, Suzanne Gibbs at analogue art table.

I love to work with collage on paper. My art includes painting, drawing, and of course, use glue! The eight foot table is just barely enough space to accommodate my method of production and art process because I almost never work on just one piece of work at a time.

A second version of an analogue desk that I use frequently is a table at a cafe or restaurant with either my sketchbook or my journal at hand.

I love to draw in public. And yes, even though I love to draw in public I get stage fright every time. However, to show up in public to draw keeps my drawing skills sharp and allows others to see me working. As an artist who lives and works alone most days, these drawing field trips are an excellent extension to my studio practice. Drawing in public is something I do not do often enough because I seem to get stuck in my studio routines! Still, drawing in public is an important part of my studio habits.

An analogue desk with a sketchbook is a great place to work.

Then, there are my journals. I write in a journal every single day! Usually, my writing happens before the sun wakes up! I keep so many notes in my journals that sometimes I simply need to sit down and sort through the pages to make sure I have not missed something that I feel needs follow through. Some of the ideas need the trash bin, but I leave the work to linger in the journal anyway.

Being away from the studio or my digital desk allows new perspective on my previously written thoughts. Also, I can of course, write out more ideas and sort through things that are not working in life, or in the studio. Therefore, I build into my schedule a once a quarter analogue review session of my journal pages. A typical review session can take as many as 4 hours!

If my brain or work feels clogged, I may schedule an additional spontaneous review sessions. I can recall a few sessions where I went to a park table and sat outside to work on my creative life instead of in a cafe or restaurant. The point is always to move out of habits that are not working to shake new ideas into a workable project.

The third type of desk is the research table.

The word research desk will often conjure up a library setting. And yes, libraries are one great place to begin to do research. However, sometimes research comes in the form of field trips, conversations with others, reading books, reading magazines or newspapers, and also looking through previously made art. Any and all art practices require some research at some point, either qualitative or quantitative.

A place to conduct research is a part of a working artists practice.

I have noticed that in photos of famous artists and in the studios of the many artists I have visited, nearly all have a research desk or as seems to be more often, a research chair. This is a place where a painter, for example, sits and contemplates their work. A painter might sit and rests their eyes—blur their work into submission, looking and researching the thought, what comes next or what was the point of that move I made?

My research desk is sometimes a place to sit and look back through my old work or even newer work and let the work “talk to me.” I cannot move forward until I know what the work was made for in the first place. Since I work spontaneously and instinctively I do not always know what my work says visually.

When I take this research table work seriously, the work will often show me what I need to know to move my ideas further along.

There are so many other types of tables that are helpful in crafting the creative life. I’ll list them for you, but these other tables are not as essential as the top three listed above. The others are:

Personal table—home, kids, family and a place to eat

Finance—this table might be more of a file cabinet or a visit to an accountant or money manager

Taboret—a fancy word for paint mixing table, or a dolly type table that can be wheeled around the studio keeping supplies handy

Mailing and shipping table—an important table for artists who primarily sell work online or who need to frequently ship work to galleries or shows.

Feeds-the-fire table—I think of this as sort of like the junk drawer in the kitchen, so many artists have a messy table full of items that for one reason or another inspire their work.

I personally have a feeds-the-fire box, not a table. My box is an 8 x 7 x 3 inch box full of random toy-like objects that when all else fails, I open this treasure box and draw an item from the box or just play with the toys and then put them back and close the lid. Ooops! My private playpen is no longer private! 😉

I wonder if anyone will ask to see my special feeds-the-fire box after reading this post.

A Tiny Art Studio

This post is the first peek of what it has taken me to realize the dream of a dedicated place to make art and honor my creativity skills.

We live on a small lot. We also live in a very small house (under 900 square feet). Space is so limited and precisely defined that building a tiny studio, on wheels, seemed to be the best solution for me to have a dedicated place to work.

Last year I went about searching for a work unit that would suit my needs and my dreams. I dedicated two Pinterest boards to my ideas. First, a board for mobile business units, and second a studio setup dreams board.

The dream boards helped me to focus on prioritizing my needs.

I had a list of furniture I already owned, and a list of how I would like the space to function. Every inch counts in a tiny space!

I considered purchasing a used Airstream to gut out to be a work space. I then looked at buying a used tiny house that I then re-tool and remove what I didn’t need to make room for what I did need. In the end, I hired a contractor in a different part of the state to build a tiny studio on wheels for me, from scratch.

My tiny studio was being brought to life miles away, in a different city. A licensed contractor not only built the unit, he also delivered upon completion. I do not own a truck or vehicle appropriate to haul the unit! The communication we had was via phone, texting, and email. Some things went really well, other times, communication or details fell apart.

I do have a space to work. However, the process was not without problems. Many problems. I might have done things differently if I knew then what I know now, but isn’t this the truth in any project worth undertaking? I am happy to share the first few images sent to me from the contractor!

The walls of my tiny art studio went up.

©2018 Suzanne Gibbs, Tiny Studio Build. Door and window.
©2018 Suzanne Gibbs, Tiny Studio Build. Door and window as viewed through the structure.
©2018 Suzanne Gibbs, Tiny Studio Build. Tiny and tall!
©2018 Suzanne Gibbs, Tiny Studio Build. Plywood sheathing is attached. This side will face the street (that was my hope and plan).
©2018 Suzanne Gibbs, Tiny Studio Build. Door and window with plywood sheathing. This side will face the main house.

I didn’t notice, at this stage, that the roof was sloped in the wrong direction. I was completely overjoyed to simply see progress being made and for my dream to come to life! Soon, I’d have a dedicated place to work that was all my own, not rented and if I had to move, I could!

More on this adventure to follow!

Keep Your Monkey Happy

What are you going to do this week to keep your monkey happy?

Draw?

Stare out the window?

Sit in you comfortable studio chair?

Suzanne Gibbs, ©2018, Grid Face Happy Monkey, mixed media, 4 x 6 inches.

Read an art book?

Make tea?

Sketch an idea?

Paint?

Eat too many cookies?

Complain?

Stretch a canvas?

Worry?

Order the supply you need to start your next project?

Skip a rope?

Make excuses?

Learn a new technique?

Is it the monkey that you want happy or you? Only you know what will work best for you to move your studio practice forward.

Choose to do that thing that makes your monkey away. We can’t wait to see what you make. Share and repeat. Your art makes a difference to many and to one—you!

October 2018 Sketchbook

Suzanne Gibbs Art October 2018 Sketchbook is ready!

Each month I fill a sketchbook and share it here on my blog via video. Below you can find my October 2018 sketchbook. Comments, suggestions, ideas, and questions are always welcome!

My sketchbooks are made for ME, and generously shared with you!

This month I found I barely had any drawing in me and only a little bit of painting. Instead writing filled my pages. The important thing was that I showed up for myself. By doing this my creative spirit knows it can trust me. I believe soon, my drawing and painting will come back. I am patient with my creativity. Are you?

I invite you to make your sketchbook pages 100% personal!

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!

My Friend, The Sketchbook

One of my favorite things these days is my friend, the sketchbook.

My sketchbook gladly accepts scribbling.

Page spread from August 2018 sketchbook of Suzanne Gibbs.

The handwritten word lands on each page.

Page spread from August 2018 sketchbook of Suzanne Gibbs.

From other artists art I find inspiration and draw to my hearts content.

Page spread from August 2018 sketchbook of Suzanne Gibbs.

Getting glue all over the place, I make collage.

Page spread from August 2018 sketchbook of Suzanne Gibbs.

I make nothing in particular. For no particular reason and for no one in particular, except maybe me. To see more of my sketchbooks, try my YouTube channel.

Page spread from August 2018 sketchbook of Suzanne Gibbs.

I capture ideas—they come to me, they are not mine.

Page spread from August 2018 sketchbook of Suzanne Gibbs.

My sketchbook is my friend.

I am on a journey of unknown destination. My friend, the sketchbook allows the meanderings and musings to be captured, recorded, honored, and saved.

I’m in that liminal place between where I’ve been and where I’m going. I am uncomfortable and a little scared. I will stay here, in the pages of my sketchbook, until I know exactly which direction I’m headed next.

Will there ever be an exactly? A knowing? A clear and undeniable answer?

Likely, not. My sketchbook is one of my favorite things, and my friend, because I can rely on the pages to take what I have to offer.

When I need comfort, she’s here for me. When I need an outlet, he takes a beating.

Page spread from August 2018 sketchbook of Suzanne Gibbs.

My friend, the sketchbook knows that to be silly is to use one’s highest intelligence because laughter heals.

I have learned in life, that what I write down, and what I pay attention to grows and becomes  real life, eventuality. The sketchbook, knows this too and the seeds spread far and wide.

The impossible becomes possible and what is impermanent becomes permanent inside the pages of a sketchbook filled from curiosity.

Picking up images, words, and musings everywhere I go, and everyday absorbing and applying them in my friend, the sketchbook. This is a place of unrestrained containment. My favorite place to be, with a friend—myself.

Dart Tossing

I believe in giving things a try. Dart tossing means that I have been operating under a personal motto: ”Give stuff a try, toss a dart, you never know what will work without trying.” When I have a new idea, or something interesting  repeatedly calls for my attention, I will usually pick up the idea and give it a go. I liken my style of creating to tossing darts, I have needed to toss many to hit the ever elusive sweet spot.

Dart tossing is no longer working for me.

To perfect my craft and my voice though art, I’ll need to stop picking up every fun and interesting idea and begin to work towards one direction, at least for a little while. From May—October of this year I plan to do one body of work with one singular focus! No more darts! Hard work ahead!

You heard it here first!

To test the waters of Silly Girl Factory vs Fine Art by Suzanne Gibbs, I have opened a new and second Instagram account that will focus on my Fine Art. The plan is to make work that matters, work with my heart and soul poured into it. Two Instagram accounts means I am having an art identity crisis in public on social media.

What kind of work can you expect from my fine art focus?

Below are images of work from 2014 from a Solo Show (the work is currently hanging in my living room, and can still be purchased) I had shortly after my MFA in 2014. I called the show Blemish, finding beauty and peace in upset and discomfort, this link takes you to a blog post about the work.

The work from my Blemish show included abstract works made in layers. The idea for this body of work was to have my viewers question what I covered up vs what I left visible. I made the work using acrylic, oil paint and encaustic. In my current studio I cannot use encaustic , and I no longer own a full set of oil paint, but I can continue to make work.

My new body of work will be drawing and painting abstractions from the abstractions I see in the world. Simply complex, sometimes repetitive. I cannot fully visualize the work yet, as I begin to put pen to paper or paint to wood I will allow my intuition to be my guide. I am excited to share this journey with you, and I hope that I have (actually I KNOW that I have) a team of supporters that will keep me on my path for the next 6 months.

Please nudge me away from my days of dart tossing!

Call me, email me, scream at me through social media… any way you can get my attention, please do! I welcome the support and the nudge to focus! In the past, I have always been a go it alone type of person. I now realize that I need a team, support, and a community to build this thing called an art career. Dear reader, I count you as a part of this team and community! Love my followers!


In the meantime, I am finishing up a project for Art-O-Mat! An example of a possible location can be found on this blog post (click on link). This Art-O-Mat project is one example of dart tossing! I sent in my work for review and I was accepted. I am drawing and painting 100 small works of art that will be sold through re-purposed cigarette vending machines! Below are images of work in progress, to see more work in progress join my Silly Girl Factory Instagram here.

That’s all I have for you today. The adventure called life continues. I continue to create and share the journey, even as I am floundering (a little) and re-evaluating (a lot). To support the work I do, buy a book, some art, or share this post with a friend. Thank you!

I Goofed, Sorry :(

Hello! Suzanne here—artist, author and instructor at Silly Girl Factory

Image of the door of Silly Girl Factory in Langlois, Oregon

For the past few weeks I have been attempting to figure out how to “revive” and “grow” my email list in order to tell more people about the new stuff I am making and selling. In the process, I accidentally added personal contacts to my current blog subscriber list—you may not have asked to be here!

What I really wanted to do was make a separate list to invite new readers to join my blog list. But I am a bit of a newbie doing the technical work in Mail Chimp… and…

I goofed, and I am really sorry.

Now you are on my blog subscriber list. This is how I initially got your email address: Once upon a time we have met in person, worked together, or I have admired your work via social media links (yes, I am a website snoop). We may or may not remember each other or where we first met! But here I am, in your inbox!

Because of my goof, I decided to just go ahead and tell my whole new list what I am up to!

I love to stay in touch.

I invite you to view the new work going on at Silly Girl Factory via my website. My factory makes art, writes and publishes books, and teaches both yoga and creative art workshops. Silly Girl Factory may be a new brand—however making art, writing books, and teaching are not new to me, and you may know me as Suzanne Gibbs or Suzanne Gibbs Studio.

Suzanne Gibbs and new puppy Zoie.

When I paint or draw my art is idealistic, plural, and impractical. I make the work in a spontaneous and direct manner. I call upon a viewer’s understanding of daily production and repetitive work. The strength lies in my art’s elegance and confidence. I paint reassembled patterns as seen on quotidian objects, spaces, places, and people. Culling ideas and inspiration from my own painting and drawing as well as popular media and a plethora of other inspiration. I flatten the hierarchy of all that I see. Making meaning out of meaninglessness.

Yep, basically I draw and paint while staying silly and having fun doing the serious business of making art.

Suzanne Gibbs ©2016, Alive! LOOK, paper, pen, watercolor, 4.75 x 4.75 inches, $65

When I write, I dive into my own life and I record, represent, distort, fragment, distill, celebrate, challenge and evaluate all that I know—blurring the boundaries between what I think I understand and what I wish to understand. Then sharing what I write via books and blogs.

In a few short weeks I will have my second book, My Year of Separation: A collection of essays examining the impossible task of separation from self, complete and ready for an audience—the first published shipment is already on it’s way to my factory. I am hoping that you might be one of the people interested in this project.

My Year of Separation, book cover, written and illustrated by Suzanne Gibbs is my newest creation.

Now, back to my mistake. I Goofed

  • If you do nothing. You’ll stay on my e-mail list and receive regular notifications.
  • Additionally, you may decide to go over to Instagram or Facebook and follow me I post images of the projects I am working on, almost daily.
  • Lastly, there IS an unsubscribe button, and you are free to use this option at any time, no hard feelings, after all you may not have elected to be here, but you are now due to my mistake!

Except, you might miss out…

I want you to hear about when my second book is being shipped!

Also, I am currently working on my next project—another book— this one is being done almost entirely by hand, I will go digital when I scan the sketchbook, but the creation of this new work is paper, pen, ink, watercolor, crayons,colored pencils, and glue in a sketchbook. I am creating drawings, writing, and doodles—oodles of doodles. I am creating this project for The Sketchbook Project in NYC. The working title of this little gem is:

Dorky Doodle Darlings ^prepare to Visit NYC

I am over the top thrilled to have found a way to have my art on display and available for viewing in NYC! This is a dream come true! Many many years ago (1982) I wanted to attend art school in NYC, but I didn’t. Now my art can go to NYC to live in The Sketchbook Project library, and I can go visit the work andy time I want. Seriously, very hugely exciting!

Let’s do the Happy Dance!

Well, I will happy dance once I finish this next project! And… of course… since Silly Girl Factory IS a factory and in high production mode, there will be other projects announced later this year. You want to know about these, right? Sure you do!

I may or may not have your permission to email you in this way, and because of this I appreciate that it is a privilege to write to you today. Thanks for reading!

I adore my FANS! Hugs and Kisses and Happy Dances!

Happy Valentine’s Day too!

Toodle-loo! Until another time!

Suzanne at Silly Girl Factory