BY MICHAEL REISIG –
Susan Gibson is one of those people who has been given a gift from above. Even as a child, drawing and art came natural to her, and today she is an accomplished, successful artist. One of her latest works, “One Surprise”, is on exhibit this month at the Butler Gallery in Little Rock, after winning the prestigious Arkansas League of Artists Award.
Gibson was born in Dyersberg, Tenn., but at nine years old the family moved to Los Angeles for two years, then returned to Tennessee and Memphis, where she graduated high school. Gibson will tell you she married her next door neighbor. She met Larry Gibson in 1961, and they were married in 1965.
It was in junior high school that she developed a real passion for art, and later she took lessons from the well-known Florence McIntyre, who eventually became the first director of Brooks Art Museum and the Memphis College of Art, but the talent seemed to be there much earlier.
“I feel like God gave me this talent,” she explained. “It’s something I’ve always been able to do, from a child. I have always wanted to put images down, to record them with pencils, brushes, and paints. I sometimes sense that I’m being told what to paint, and when that happens the painting just blooms. I don’t paint every day, like many artists, I paint when the emotion overcomes me.”
Gibson’s husband was in the Army for many years and they lived in Europe for almost a decade before returning to the U.S. When he was discharged they settled in Memphis, later moving to Jonesboro, Ark. It was during this time tragedy befell them. They lost a daughter, and for many years afterward Gibson gave up painting. But later, in the early 1990s they moved to Batesville and she found her miraculous gift again.
“I was introduced to the Batesville Arts Council, and they asked if I would like to join them,” Gibson recalled. “I decided to, and as soon as I touched a brush again, it all came flooding out of me, like a dam had broken, and I began painting again. It was during this time that a premier artist and instructor at Lyon’s College saw my work, and she made me realize that I had above average talent and encouraged me to begin to enter competitions. It wasn’t long and I was offered an opportunity to do a one-person show at Batesville Art Gallery. The show was a wonderful success – within the first hour I sold seven paintings – and this gave me the confidence to begin to enter major competitions.”
From there it became a collage of successes for Gibson, as she has been privileged to be selected to show at numerous national and international contests, including the 13th Taos National Watercolor Society in New Mexico and the Mississippi Grand National Watercolor Society. Last year she won The President’s Award at the 42nd Midwest Watercolor Society and she has taken multiple awards from shows across the country. In the process she has received “signature status” from these societies, which allows her the privilege of placing that society’s name behind her name on paintings.
Gibson explained, “By that, they are putting their ‘stamp of approval’ on you – something everyone in the art world understands and appreciates.”
Her husband was offered a job with U.S. Motors in Mena in 2006, and they moved here then. When she got here she joined the Mena Art Gallery, and she continues to show her paintings throughout Arkansas and the U.S.
“We love small town living, and we really like the people here – it’s such a beautiful area,” Gibson said. “I love the ocean, but the mountains have always drawn me. Much of what I love to paint is here, in our new home.”