Category Archives: Philosphy of Suzanne

Walking While Musing, Episode 7

Thoughts on art and life while I am out and about in Denver Colorado.

Enjoy Episode 7 of Walking While Musing by Suzanne. This musing has no focus! I tried, I honestly did! Three times! You’ll have to watch to see what I mean.

I honestly found it nearly impossible to focus on musing while walking in a city. I realize my tiny small town life really is a part of who I am now. Langlois Oregon is only 177 people big! There are more cows and sheep in our little part of the world than people.

However, what I can say is that I know that in building a creative life it is important to get out of our comfort zone from time to time. I did this by creating this video!

Create adventure in your own life by doing something alone that seems just a little bit out of reach. Record what you have accomplished and reflect on what can be learned from the experience.

I know that if I were to record a musing again while in a city I would maybe feel just a tiny bit less uncomfortable than I did on this first time adventure.

My hope for others is that even while living in a city that you may find a bit of respite and beauty in your own surroundings (or watch my videos for nature breaks).

Includes a full deep breath at the end. Please enjoy and feel free to comment.

I will have a chance to try to musing in a big city again soon! I will be in Los Angeles in November and I will record another city video while I am at SketchKon. PS. I am a presenter at SketchKon this year, the first ever SketchKon Convention!

Then in December I will be in NYC and will dare to create a third walking while musing video. I plan to visit my sketchbook that lives in Brooklyn in The Sketchbook Project Library.

Please join me on these adventures! You do not want to miss out!

I would love it if you could go on over to YouTube and subscribe to my channel!

100 Subscribers would mean I can make a custom channel brand name! Only 97 to go! 🙂

Art Break!

Suzanne Gibbs, ©2018, Terrible, Flashe paint and other media on wood cradled panel, 14 x 11 inches, $375

Walking While Musing, Episode 6

In this Walking While Musing episode I follow through on a promise from Episode 1 when I told my audience I would walk around the cabin we are currently building.

Interestingly, what I noticed first when I went to walk around the construction site looking at it through the eyes of my audience is: garbage! Piles of garbage.

To build requires the use of materials. Just as to create requires the use of materials. I don’t think we set out to make garbage, but the garbage is the result of the process.

In short, we need a certain amount of garbage to build a creative life we desire!

I hereby give you permission to make a little bit of garbage in order to make and build your best creative life!

As always I include a full deep breath at the end. Please enjoy and feel free to comment.

 

I would love it if you could go on over to YouTube and subscribe to my channel!

Pretty please!

100 Subscribers would mean I can make a custom channel brand name! Only 97 to go! 🙂

Art break!

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

Crafting a Life, Part 2

Edited. Originally published on May 21, 2012.

These things are true about me, crafting my life.

I made art as a baby, crafted as a child, and studied art as a young adult. As a yound adult I made my living in graphic design work. Throughout my life I studied art again, and then again and again—always a student. My favorite form of communication is visually and in writing. Crafting and creating a life is beautiful and artful living matters.

My childhood can be measured in creative phases: I have painted, drawn, cross-stitched, quilted, sewed, puppet crafted, made art with yarn and fabric, card crafted, knitted, clay + ceramic building, learned batik, made macramé, put together plastic model airplanes, used fire to fuse encaustic, installed art installations, and authored books. Constantly creating with my hands and heart. My mind got involved later when I studied to receive my MFA.

An Original Suzanne Utaski (my maiden name), created in ceramics class 8th grade. Inspired by Goodnight Moon.

In recent weeks I have been consumed with the idea of helping artists to more fully express their visual voice. To calibrate a newly crafted way of life, I believe we need the voices of all kinds of people to mingle, listen, and share.

I feel as though I am uniquely qualified to do this work. As I mentioned, I started expressing my creative voice as a child. In addition to arts and crafts, I regularly created costumes and dressed up. I did performances with friends, for friends, with family and for family. My life as a child was full, provocative, and exciting. Growing up in Mexico and Brazil, I absorbed cultural differences at a very young age. Learning to love all kinds of people. Growing up without TV or the Internet allowed my imagination and utopian vision of our world to flourish.

Crafting or making things was a typical part of my play and my day in my house.

I did not know that I was very lucky to grow up this way. What I’d like to do now is help others to craft a life worth sharing. If you are reading this, implore you to follow your curiosity, and make your ideas sharable (not only on the internet).

The internet is a gift and a hindrance.

We’ve begun to loose the joy of personal expression as we swish our fingers across screens. Vicariously living through other people’s content, we loose sight of our own. I know I am guilty of social media surfing! Children as young as 9 months can be seen “playing” on their parents or their own iPhone’s or iPad’s. I fear loosing touch with their own voice, before it even has a chance to develop.

The inherent joy in crafting a life well lived is beautiful.

Making items by hand: whether we call it crafting, craftivism, studio crafting, making, creating, art, drawing, painting or whatever—the innate desire to communicate and create connection—is of huge value to humanity. Our voices matter. Communication through objects we make to share is worthy and worthwhile.

Fully realizing your voice and then learning how to best express that story is priceless.

I remember going into New York City with my mother as a teenager in 1979. We visited a museum show about American Quilts. Many of the the quilts on display in the exhibition were made by the Amish. Included also was an exploration of the tradition of quilting in America. The quilts were beautiful, the show had a historical framework that enhanced the story of the quilts and all of them were hung like paintings on the walls of the museum. At this show I could feel the passion. Art creation requires the use of the makers’ hand, heart, and voice.

I think this exhibit was possibly the beginning of my love affair with art. More specifically art made by women. The quilts represented art that was both beautiful and practical.

Suzanne Gibbs, ©2018, 100 Postcard Series, #9, Mixed Media, varied sizes.

I enjoyed the quilt show so much that I spent the next year designing and making my first quilt. Entirely by hand with help from my mother.

 I crafted the quilt, for use in my own life.

Later, I took the quilt to college with me. Four years after that, I took the quilt across the country from Pittsburgh to California for my first job and apartment.

My quilt was stolen from me.

One night while enjoying a date in San Francisco my boyfriends’ car got broken into and the quilt was gone when we returned. I hoped the person that took my quilt needed the item for warmth. Instead of anger, I held the image of the thief needing the warmth of a crafted object.

To me, objects made by hand hold more value than those purchased in big box stores.

The objects made by hand can be anything: quilts, paintings, drawings, or books. What matters most is the person who made the work and that they are realizing and sharing their voice.

“Art is not a handicraft, it is the transmission of feeling the artist has experienced.” (Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy)

To me, art is craft and craft is art. My head, heart, and hands have make all the work I have ever created. I have a lifetime of experience in expressive creation.

I now have the desire to understand, share, and cultivate not only my voice but that of other artists as well.

There are those who persist in the separation of Art and Craft, and they should because it helps both sides to stretch and grow as they argue the hierarchy in arbitrarily created constructs. However, I am happy to be the middle person and persist in working and believing in both camps while helping artists to realize the importance of their own voice in whatever medium they choose.

 

Crafting a life, Part 1 can be found in this previous blog.

Walking While Musing, Episode 3

Thoughts on art and life while I am out hiking. Enjoy Episode 3 of Walking While Musing by Suzanne.

This musing focuses on the times when the path ahead feels too long and indecision needs an inner focus!

Along with a long walk comes a vary big reward at the conclusion. I view of the ocean from up high and share the view with you. Included is a full focus deep breath at the oceans edge. Please enjoy and feel free to comment.

 

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.

Strong Point-of-View

A strong point-of-view makes for better art, or so it seems, or does it?

What if, like me, your strong point of view is that all points of view have validity and worth. I have had many conversations that lead to a natural point of me taking a deep breath and wanting to honor both sides of an argument. Never wishing to take a side.

If I have any strong points-of-view they are:

  • Being heard, matters.
  • Use conscious curiosity to dig deeper into issues.
  • Actively listen until there is at the very least a baseline of understanding.

I found myself writing a whole book on this topic a few years ago. Click on image below to purchase or learn more.

Picture of Conscious Curiosity open on a table. A book I wrote in 2014 that shares how I reach my point-of-views. Available signed copies for $20.

Cory Huff of Abundant Artist has put out a missive for artists. He has asked that artists go ahead and make art about, or discuss openly one’s strong point-of-view.

This missive of being asked to declare my strong point-of-view is what lead me to write this blog post.

A “no middle ground allowed” goes in direct opposition to how I think, how I feel, and how I behave.

Very often, if not always, I find myself attempting to see things from every angle. Stepping into the shoes, mind, heart of each person I meet as best as I can. I value both ends of the ubiquitous u-shaped bell-curve of statistics. Research is my friend. Asking lots of questions is a means of declaring my point-of-view.

As for my point-of-view on a few key argument inducers, I offer my thoughts below.

Politics: I would remove corporate dollars, even if this means smaller platforms and action through people not companies—this is obviously not possible within our current framework.

Illustraion Detail, ©2018 Suzanne Gibbs for Silly Girl Factory, Hope, water color and ink on paper, 12 x 9 inches, $75 (inquire through email).

Religion/Spirituality: I was raised catholic, the doctrine will always be a part of who I am. Now I practice outdoor mindfulness, yoga, and meditation (alone and in community). I believe in God, but I also honor and use the words higher being, universal energy, spirit, goddess, and other equivalents.

Illustration Detail by Suzanne Gibbs for Silly Girl factory, Breathe, watercolor and ink on paper, 12 x 9 inches, $75 (inquire through email).

Education: I strongly believe that education alone can heal people and the planet.

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

Money: Money is not the source of all evil. The current distribution of money is out of balance, but there will always be richer and less rich until the day we destroy the construct of money.

Silly Girl Factory, Suzanne Gibbs, Artist ©2018. One in a series of dog portraits in everyday activities. SOLD

Guns: I wish it was infinitely harder to own them, especially in United States.

Suzanne Gibbs ©2016, 222 Faces Series, Watermelon Face, watercolor on Italian paper, 5 x 5 inches, $50

The premise of this post was to honor the missive of declaring my personal strong point-of-view. I know I have missed the mark. I will take solace from a yoga instructor I’d like to meet one day: we can have a strong point-of-view without minimizing others. Do I need to place a lower value on my work because I believe in the value of others and their opinions? I don’t think so. Why should I, my work is my own unique point-of-view, even if I am not an arguer or a bully.

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.

Walking While Musing, Episode 1

Video recording of a walk in a forest, my Walking While Musing, a new project.

This video is the first of a new series of work. I have had to get used to the name I am calling the project and I have made some mistakes. The film is raw. The work is new. I have much to learn.

I have had this idea for a while now to share my thoughts on art and life while I am out hiking.  No doubt I will get better at creating video and curating content as I continue to share a bit of my world.

Thank you for following me on this journey.

Enjoy Episode 1 of Walking While Musing by Suzanne.

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.