Category Archives: Source Material

Nothing To Say

Since January of this year I have been working on a new body of work. The working title for this series is: Nothing To Say.

The work is challenging me in new ways. Instead of painting spontaneously and with great emotion, I am slowing down. Creating tons of drawings in my sketchbook leads to many more ideas than I could ever execute. Spending at least a half hour early every morning morning—before coffee, before the sun wakes up—writing in a notebook I sift out and capture what I wish to say visually.

I began the year thinking I had nothing to say. A day at a time my thinking has changed.

My morning view

Below is a video of one of many full sketchbook of faces and character studies.

Each larger painting begins with a fully realized smaller study. Using collage, I cut up security envelopes and assemble them into abstract faces. This satisfies my fascination of how we use pattern to obliterate information.

Suzanne Gibbs ©2019, Nothing To Say Series, Tea Cup Brow, flashe paint, ink, gouache, collage on paper, 5 x 7, $200

After sizing up the study to fit the new format on a cradled wood panel of 14 x 11 inches, I begin to lay down the paint on the new larger size.

Work in progress.

Seeing the work larger has me thinking of so many new ideas. I now have more visual problems to solve, based on what I want the painting to communicate.

I am finding that I do have something to say!

Somehow the idea of a zipped mouth came to me. Maybe during a brisk cold morning walk? Anyways, once the idea came I knew that the execution needed to be flawless. The paint I use and the message I want to communicate has no room for “do overs” or layering of paint to make it right. I want the work to BE just so and correct on my first try. This required drawing studies of zippers, over and over again.

Zipper study.

When the pieces are fully complete, I include a great deal of detail on every piece. With that comes the need for just the right sized brush!

Sampling of brushes. The smallest ones are 0 size, the largest are a 6 flat.

I add details over the flat surfaces of paint. I have skipped discussing my color choices in this blog post for brevity sake.

Zipper detail.
Eye and nose detail.

The final work made me feel really excited about this new direction. I have since completed 4 more pieces that I will unveil soon. And this morning I began a sixth in the series.

Suzanne Gibbs, ©2019, Tea Cup Face, flashe paint and posca pen on cradled wooden panel, 14 x 11 inches, $450

In Nothing To Say, I have combined faces or characters, household objects, and flat areas of color juxtaposed with painted patterns. The deliberate creation of detailed patterns represent repetitive labor that goes under-appreciated and often unpaid.

Security envelope detritus.

My inspiration came from the insides of security envelopes—a product made as protection for the contents within. However, in actuality they obliterate the message, and usually the contents are related to financial affairs.

The zipped mouth alludes to the unheard voices of the unnoticed many. And, once again, I am finding I do have something to say.

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!