Category Archives: Influences

Three Pronged Approach

Sharing a new series that includes ladders, from a three pronged approach.

I recently completed a series of work that simply needed to snap on out onto  paper using ink and gouache paint. In my past work, a common theme has been the use of repeated motif’s. Most commonly, of dots, squares, and lines. This little series is no exception. What I added, is the element of ladders.

For the past few years, the idea of ladders has been resurfacing again and again in my daily writing and sketchbook doodles. This series represents the first full use of my previous motif’s with the addition of the ladder as a symbol.

In my research, ladders are chalk full of symbology. Here is a small snapshot of my findings:

  • used for going up
  • used for going down
  • a connection of earth to the heavens
  • a connection to the underworld
  • used as a metaphor as in, climbing the corporate ladder
  • ladder as a way to the glass ceiling
  • Jacob’s ladder
  • DNA resembles a ladder
  • used for escape
  • ladders as a symbol of blue collar work
  • ladders to reach the unreachable

The list of uses for ladders is seemingly endless! I will be continuing my research and my fascination of ladders later this year, possibly for the next few years. I will continue to share more ideas about ladder through what I draw and paint. This blog represents and insiders look and a first time peek at the process I use to take ideas from that initial spark to the realization of a series of works following a theme or idea.

Ladders as a theme and idea can be endless.

What is not endless is the three pronged approach I use to connect viewers to my art: Instagram, Facebook and my blog are the steps to reaching my audience.

Below are sample images from Instagram of my recent series utilizing a ladder as a symbol in the creation of the work. These images are of “in progress work.” Scroll to the end to see the finished series as it hangs on my studio-factory wall.


After quite a few days of working silly dorky doodle darlings last night I felt compelled to work on a more serious series. These 12 pieces are not yet finished-I want to add one more layer of color-but they will be available for sale as a set very very soon. If I have an interested buyer before I load it into My Etsy shop we can privately discuss special pricing. Please feel free to contact me in the comments or from my profile. Typically my small work sells for $65 each. I am excited to have these move to the right person’s home or business. In the next few hours or possibly tomorrow I will post a video of work in progress and some close up images. These are created on Italian watercolor paper with ink and gouache. #smallart #artforsale #sillygirlfactiry #gouache #inkonpaoer #worksonpaper #art #illustration #drawing #abstractseries #abstractart #ladder #laddertheme #dots #circles #line #lineart #happytoshare #fabrianopaper

A post shared by Suzanne Gibbs (@sillygirlfactory) on

More painting.

A post shared by Suzanne Gibbs (@sillygirlfactory) on

The past month I have completed the commission project I spoke about in the image below and I have moved into a new series that I will be working on for at least the next 3-4 months. More information will be available about my next series next week!


Here is how I would hang the work. Either framed individually or as a whole. Please ignore the little magnets. Thank you…

Posted by Silly Girl Factory on Tuesday, April 3, 2018


However, before I put this little gem of a series away into storage or on Etsy, I’d like to offer it here to my blog readers first. $600 buys all twelve pieces of work, including domestic shipping or buy one at a time for $65 each. Simply email me and say YES I want the work! I will send you an invoice and the work will be on it’s way to you!

Do ladders have special significance to you? If so, grab these while you can! Or tell me why I should make more ladder work, I’m very interested in feedback.


sweet territory of silence

Allow me to repeat.

sweet territory of silence

I wrote the words—sweet territory of silence—in my “system” for tracking and keeping ideas for books, blog posts, and essays. I even wrote to myself: This would be one hell of a story if I can find the words to write it.

Then I did. I found a way to write.

In 2017, I took a year off. A year that I called My Year of Separation. My intention was “to get away from it all” and to “remove myself from the rut that was my life.” Of course, we all know that did NOT happen! I never got away from it all and I did not remove myself from my life. How naive I was that I thought that I could!

As humans, we live in community with one another and need other people to stay alive. I wasn’t thinking of this at the time. I had recently suffered from a traumatic family experience, and I had just read Walden a few months prior.

I was dreaming that the idea of a sweet territory of silence and being alone was possible.

I ought to have remembered that even Henry David Thoreau admitted to needing people while he went out of convention and built a cabin by a pond, lived alone, listened to silence in nature, and wrote a book on his personal musings.

I was inspired by Walden.

Years earlier I had read A Year by the Sea by Joan Anderson. She too, left her “normal” life and went to live alone, in search of her own version of silence, I assume, and a way to reinvent her life. She wrote a book about her experiences.

I was inspired by A Year By The Sea.

I was ready to look for that sweet territory of silence. Alone. By a sea or a pond, either one, sure. A forest would work as well. I wanted this mostly so that I could hear my own voice. Also so that I could rest and heal. And like I said, to find a new path in life.

The cabin I retreated to was on a lake, the lake is steps from the ocean. In fact the ocean often crashes over the sand dunes and spills into the lake. I was, in effect, reenacting both Thoreau and Anderson. Instead of a pond and the sea I was on a lake near the ocean. Although, I did not really think of this at the time, how I had copied those that inspired me.

I was searching for the sweet territory of silence. A time for my brain to get quieter and feel more at peace.


New Book Coming in 2018

As many of my readers are already aware, our family lived through a traumatic experience in 2016 that extended into 2017. To deal with this trauma I resorted to my tried and true emotional helpers: making and moving. I wrote, drew, scribbled, and made messes in my journals and sketchbooks almost daily and with great urgency during this time. From these pages a new book emerged. I also practiced yoga and went for long walks outside, even in pouring rain and sometimes snow.

My Year of Separation is my second book and will be self published really really soon. The plan is to have it in your hands by May 7—just before mother’s day…


I hope you are excited! I hope you will want to purchase a copy of my newest book!

There are words of comfort and certainly some unpleasantness in the stories I share in My Year of Separation: A collection of essays examining the impossible task of separation from self.

crayola crayon box pattern, created in my sketchbook during my year of separation, NFS

I have a theory that there are many people attempting to separate from our true selves going on in the world right now. Including myself. Some indicators are: drugs, alcohol, prescriptions, broken relationships, violence, and the list goes on…

I am not saying that I was doing drugs or being violent, but there was disconnect, for sure…

Some indications of the desire to separate from the self are more subtle. My book aimed to look at underling root causes of separation from self in myself, one essay at a time. By sharing my inner journey I hope that others can relate to the journey and intentionally find contentment and joy within themselves as I have been able to do as a result of this journey.

The book is little and not very long—just over 100 pages—so I will not tell all here. I can share that the following quote from the Dali Lama strikes a cord within me having just finished my manuscript and sent it off to an editor:

Outward attainment will not bring real inner joyfulness.
We must look inside. —Dali Lama

While you wait for my much anticipated (ha ha) book, may you have a most glorious and joyful day today—knowing that I care about you, even if I have not yet met you in person. Hugs and Namaste.

Tell a Good Story

I read. A Lot. Tracking my reading in Goodreads because I can. You can follow me if you’re curious about the books I read.

How many of us heard these words of wisdom from our ninth grade English Literature teacher?

The best way to learn to tell a good story is to read. A lot.

To read 52 books was my goal this year. At this point I know I will surpass my 2017 goal. I finished Austin Kleon’s book: Newspaper Blackout last night – number 52. Through reading I will continue to work on learning how to tell a good story. I also write and/or journal daily. My youngest son feels that one of my greatest strengths is writing and that he’d like to see me write more books!

Let me know if you agree.

My dog is snoring next to me as I write this post. Her snorts are a lovely sound with the backdrop of heavy rain outside. It’s early and very dark out. I am sipping coffee with soy creamer and cinnamon sprinkled on top. I awoke ready to start my day, and so here I am…with you!

In the 5 sentences above, a story could evolve. I could take it further. Or not.

Is the Trump thing a good story? Is that why we listen to the drivel? Not knowing the ending. We can endlessly imagine endings. Actually not even knowing how the story started and got so far. So far.

In the 5 sentences above, a story could evolve. I could take it further. Or not.

Austin Kleon‘s weekly newsletter often has nuggets of wisdom. I saved this entry, knowing that one day I would write a blog about telling stories — George Saunders explains about how to tell a good story. So smart! Enjoy!

I have nothing more to say right now about telling a good story. However, if you are curious about what books I have read this year go here.

Thanks for reading.

PS. I get nothing for tooting Austin’s horn!

Baby Records

I have always been an artist. How do I know?

Dorky Doodle Flower Girl. Paper, Ink. 7 x 5 inches.

Dorky Doodle Flower Girl. Paper, Ink. 7 x 5 inches.

My mom kept great records in my baby book.

Nursery School notes from teacher at 4 years old:

She has become much more social. Shows real adaptability to cutting, pasting, drawings, and art work in general.

Favorite types of play at 5 years old:

Always could amuse herself with crayons, paper, scissors, and glue. Enjoyed imaginative play with friends.

Seven Years old, Mom’s notes:

Could pick up a brush and paint for hours, until something was finished. complete immersion for her. Spent hours modeling with clay at ages 7 & 8.  We bought a chalk board at age 7 — for drawing, very good response.

Eight years old:

Started showing interest in sewing clothing for barbie.

I am sure it surprises no one that I haven’t changed! Most of all, my Mom!

Dorky Doodle Ruler. Paper, Ink. 8.5 x 5.5  inches.

Dorky Doodle Ruler. Paper, Ink. 8.5 x 5.5 inches.


The Daily Trend

The daily trend is a “thing.” Have you seen or run into these daily trends?

Do this for 30 days.
Do this for 100 days.
Do this for 365 days.
22 pushups for 22 days.
Start with one burpee and add one every day until you just can’t anymore… (I made this one up just now).
And so on…

As I navigate my way through hundreds of on-line groups, classes, and blogs one thing that strikes me is how often I see “daily challenges.” These challenges — the daily trend — are great, until they are not.

Explore Yes, paper, pen, watercolor, 4.75” x 4.75”

Explore Yes, paper, pen, watercolor, 4.75” x 4.75”

I have joined a few daily challenges from time to time, for example this month’s #inktober. I have also created my own challenge, for example 222 Faces, which I did back in 2010. I have tried to do 222 faces again this year, but I am falling short of my own goal, check out my progress on Instagram.


F-n Good Article

Amateur vs Professional. Can anyone really define the difference, the grey area, the line in the sand between these two categories bestowed on creative people? Artists? Authors? Well, maybe and maybe not.

What I like is that this article tried to draw the line and define the difference. At times the article is gut wrenching. At other parts, I find myself nodding my head in agreement. Yes, yes, so true…

Do you want to know for sure if you are an amateur or professional artist? Do you already know? Read the article here.

This is a fu–ing good article because each time I read it, and I’ve read it many times over the past three years I see more wisdom and I also recognize the lies I tell myself.

In my most recent reading, the advice in warning number 7 gave me prickles on my spine and at the base of my neck. Ugh, yes I tell myself… ugh. Number 7 – “Amateur artists never finish their work.” There are several projects I promised myself I’d complete this year (2016) and they are still on the table. A second Conscious Curiosity book for the self – yep, not yet started, but I said I would. A Dorkey Doodle coloring book that I created – yes, almost complete, yet stalled…. Then there is a set of postcard designs I made initial sketches for… another stall… and I could go on. and on.

I guess I’m still in amateur stage, but this saddens me to say, because on another level I feel like I AM a professional. I have given myself to making art and writing for so long that I cannot even imagine myself doing anything else anymore.

Enough lamenting. Professional vs Amateur. Who really cares? Why label? Why categorize?

Anyway, if you’re interested, it IS a very good article: 9 Warning signs

I dearly hope you are kinder to yourself than I am to myself.

Three Sources for Creative Courage

Three sources of Creative Courage. The never give up attitude!

One: Ira Glass

Two: Elizabeth Gilbert

Three: Danny Gregory and his blog too!

Bonus: Julia Cameron

Obviously, there are many many more sources and ways to keep nourishing your creative spirit. But today’s post serves to remind you to: Go Make Art. Any kind of art. Any kind of creative output. Go!

I don’t want you dwelling on reading my blog. Go! Have creative courage!

Yep, showing you that my images are drawn by hand in a 5.5 x 8.5 Canson Sketchbook for Mixed Media. Using Uniball pen and Peerless Watercolors.

Yep, showing you that my images are drawn by hand in a 5.5 x 8.5 Canson Sketchbook for Mixed Media. Using Uniball pen and Peerless Watercolors.