Category Archives: Philosphy of Suzanne

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.

Memories

Step into my world, for just a moment, into memories.

Certain thoughts can still bring up pain. Moments later my thoughts bring overwhelming joy. The image below was drawn in the hospital ICU 2 days after my son’s accident.

Suzanne Gibbs, ©2016, Sketchbook image, Boulder Community Health Hospital

When I think back I am amazed that I thought to bring a sketchbook and pen, but not a change of pants!

I remember that while in the ICU, I sat with him for hours coaching him to breathe using the knowledge I had learned during yoga teacher training. We did not know if he could hear us, but I could see that he was breathing with me. Using the squeeze of my hand in his to indicate inhales and exhales we breathed together. He was with me, and yet he has zero memory of these hours. At one point the nurse came in and was amazed that he was still breathing on his own without oxygen less than 24 hours from having his breathing tube removed. She walked away, happy for him and for me.

I also recall simply sitting. The hospital room had a window seat. So I sat. I breathed. I relied on every moment of meditation practice that I could summon. Being frantic, upset, crying uncontrollably was not going to help him heal. Being  there was all that mattered, for him and for myself.

These are the happy-sad memories.

The sounds of an ambulance made my heart rush for many months post-accident, even though I was no were near his ambulance and there was no way I could have a real memory of the sound of his ambulance. What I had was empathy for the other families about to go though what inevitably happens along with the sound of an ambulance.

Sometimes I still jump when the phone rings. The phone brought me the information about his accident.

Now there are new moments replacing these older memories and thoughts.

When I walk, breathe deeply, and spend time outside I can easily find myself overflowing with gratitude for the beauty in my life.

When I looked at the calendar today and realized that he is almost 21 years old! How exciting! He will get to celebrate this birthday! He lived.

In my book, My Year of Separation, I did not share the image above. I did not share these tougher memories. I spent the year writing and looking for hope and healing.

If these thoughts and details stir something in you, consider buying my book. Or share this email, story, blog post with someone that you think could be helped by what I’ve shared.

Soon, I will have moved past these memories. In their place will be new adventures and most likely further pain. The yucky moments are a part of a life lived fully. How we deal with our emotions is what creates either more pain or opens us up for further joy than we ever thought possible.

I choose joy. When I hit send/publish on this post I will go outside. Breathe deeply and know that I can share moments of meaning. Ideas that helped me, and that might help another fellow human.

I would love to sell you a book, but more than that I’d love to share the idea that even in pain we can look for and notice moments of joy. I believe it IS OK to be silly even at inappropriate times, but also to be reverent. A constant balance of good and bad. Happy and sad.

Memories are in the past, the now matters.

 

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.

(more…)

Passionate

Do you ever think about your passions? I do.

I mean, do you really hone in and decide what is most important to you? It seems, since we have just this one life, that this question of passion is worth pondering. The more I ponder it, the more that I realize that:

All my work is about passion. The search for meaning. Yep, it’s true! Always.

Suzanne Gibbs ©2016, Line and Dot. Paper, Ink. 12 x12 inches, $75

For me, I find passion even as I draw line after line after line after line, because my mind is quieting, living in the moment, yet still thinking…

I am passionate about these things:

  • Communication—visually and through stories.
  • Painting, drawing, collage, and writing.
  • Expanding community through sharing my art and art experiences.
  • Good health. Mind. Body. Spirit. (Yoga helps this mix.)
  • Reading. Reading. And more, reading.

I am also passionate about being generous.

To extend my generosity to you, this year for my birthday, which is tomorrow on February 22, I am doing a birthday in reverse sale. I am giving my readers a gift of 20% off on my original art in my ETSY shop. A 2 day flash birthday sale of 20% OFF. The funny thing is… I wanted to give you 22% off—to match my birthday date—but ETSY did not allow for that silly number, so I settled on 20% off. Sure, it’s enough, right? I hope so! It is my gift to you!

Currently my shop has 24 items for sale. All original art. No prints.

I know, I know… it is a WILD IDEA to give you the birthday gift! But that’s me! Silly and passionate too! Passionate about getting my work to you! I ship fast, same day usually!

Clicking on any image will send you to the Silly Girl ETSY shop, so easy!

Then there is more art… In a Perfect Life, this image would not have bullet holes in the diamond sign post. But we all know, life is made up of good and bad. The good and the bad when woven together is what creates perfection, the Perfect Life. To find joy, we only need to focus on the moment. For example, that a huge fresh lemon can exist on the same painting as a bullet hole. How cool is that! With this image you can imagine the possibility of walking the path of passion. There are blue shoes on the painting to help you imagine a Perfect Life.

OK, you asked… no you didn’t but here you go, one more example of the art that is available on the flash 2 day only Birthday Sale. Remember there are 24 pieces in this series! Actually there was 25, one sold recently.

Please, allow me to tell you a little about this painting. Wouldn’t you love a pair of purple boots! I would! That’s why I painted them. Yep! Boots remind me of winter storms. Let’s send this winter into oblivion! Right?!?! Why not!

Today as I write this blog post there is wind, rain, and hail ripping their way through the sky and seeping into the cracks below the doors and rattling the windows. Making for a very exciting studio experience because there is so much energy in the air!

Energy is the bright half of life!


Speaking of energy!

Are you curious about the release of my next book? Ha ha, how is that for a switcheroo of going from art to books? Ha ha. You do know I write books as well as make art, right?

My second book, My Year of Separation is hitting the press this month! The first shipment is already on it’s way to my factory here!

I can’t wait to start shipping orders!

My Year of Separation will sell for $15 plus shipping. However, pre-orders from now until February 28, 2018 are $12 each, plus shipping. What a deal! An extension of the Birthday deal, 20% off! Preferred Method: Simply go to my Factory Store and hit Buy Me, this will take you to a PayPal payment page. If you like personalized service, you may email me before February 28, 2018 and I will send you an invoice. These will be signed editions.

Clicking on the image brings you to the Factory Store as well, easy peasy.


Oh my gosh! This has been a fun post to write and send! If you do not need art right now, or a book, that’s ok! As a birthday gift to me, could you simply share this post with a friend or a few friends who like art and read books! Just use that handy FORWARD button that e-mail allows you to do…

Or, buy art for a friend that needs a little cheer and Touch someone’s life.

 


That’s about enough for now!

Oh, wait! There is a new project on my studio table! The factory is bringing you even more goodness!

I made a sketchbook for The Sketchbook Project for the Brooklyn Art Library. Yep! It has been a busy factory, Silly Girl Factory has been running full tilt! Here is a sample of one page of the sketchbook.

Sketchbook of Dorky Doodle Darlings, single page image.

This little sketchbook is 36 pages and full of silly dorky doodle characters getting ready for their trip out of Silly Girl Factory. A silly nonsense book, made with the love of working spontaneously. The images are raw and real and fun because they are made in an actual sketchbook, not on fancy art paper.

In march copies of this sketchbook will be available for sale here at Silly Girl Factory.

Never a dull moment!

Please e-mail me if you’d like to be placed on the pre-order list for this little gem. I am not even sure of the price yet, or how many I will print. The project is fresh and raw and just now wanting to come to life outside my studio walls.


Today I shared my passion, a Birthday Blast Sale, Separation in book format, and a NEW project! Oh , so much! So much!

With so much news coming from Silly Girl Factory, are you overwhelmed? Do you have a specific question for me? Please use the contact page for your inquiries. I check my in-box daily!