Artist: Lisa Gibson

Painter Lisa Gibson presents her colorful portfolio inspired by the natural world. She shares a story of transformation.


"Inner Light", Acrylic & Colored Pencil, 16"x 20"

“Inner Light”, Acrylic & Colored Pencil, 16″x 20″


ABI:  How did you evolve from a self-proclaimed “math and science geek” to an artist?

LG:  I had myself placed in that “math & science box” since elementary school since those were easy subjects for me, but I also always had a creative outlet just for fun. Ever since I was young I would squint at things that were appealing to me to see the patterns, even though I didn’t know why I did that until I became an artist.


​"Beneath the Surface", Acrylic & Ink, 24" x 12"

​”Beneath the Surface”, Acrylic & Ink, 24″ x 12″


I enjoyed photography in high school, quilting as a young wife & mother, then pine needle basketry in my 40s. When I injured my tendons to the point of having to give up the basketry – and anything else with my right hand for a whole year – I realized how important that creative outlet was to me. I spent many months looking for a new hobby I could do with my left hand but didn’t find anything that sparked my interest.


"At Ease", Mixed Media, 19" x 29"​

“At Ease”, Mixed Media, 19″ x 29″​


Depression set in as I felt there was nothing I could do to creatively. My husband suggested that I take up drawing and I just scoffed at him & said “I can’t draw!” He had seen me draw off and on over the years with our children while just goofing around, and thought I had a knack. I was always one of the people to chime in with “yeah, I can’t even draw a stick figure” whenever the topic came up, so in my mind I was not an artist. I still don’t draw a stick figure very well! Just after New Year in 2012, I sat down in a huff & said “fine – I’ll try drawing!” I was desperate & figured I had nothing to lose. The 1st thing I drew was our couch, which looked ok. Then I sketched more items around the house which led to getting library books and starting to actually enjoy it and having good results – all with my non-dominant left hand.


"Journey", Acrylic & Watercolor, 10" x 5"

“Journey”, Acrylic & Watercolor, 10″ x 5″


I bought my first set of colored pencils by February and became obsessed with color and ideas of things to draw. When I had some dreams about drawing and color it dawned on me that maybe, just maybe, I was an artist! After some success with paintings and getting feedback from other artists, it finally sunk in that yes, indeed, I was.


"Showin' Up for the Ball", Mixed Media, 30"x 40"​

“Showin’ Up for the Ball”, Mixed Media, 30″x 40″​


ABI:  What is your most recent project?

LG:  This winter I had the opportunity to license my images to a new greeting card company, St. Thomas Greetings. It was pretty exciting since I’d had in mind to look into licensing but hadn’t done so yet. They needed 48 images and I already had 44 that were suitable. I painted 4 more images to round out the collection and the line launched last month. So far, the response has been very encouraging!


Card collection licensed by St. Thomas Greetings

Card collection licensed by St. Thomas Greetings


ABI:  What insights do you have for other artists who want to be in business?

LG:  I hear often how much the business side of being an artist can be a huge obstacle in deciding whether to go pro or not. Some artists never take their work to a sustainable level solely due to a lack of business skills! It’s important to learn as much as you can about record-keeping, marketing, shows, galleries, pricing and salesmanship. If you don’t already have a background in those things, it can take a lot of time to learn and research, which some artists don’t have.


"Assimilation", Acrylic & Ink, 40" x 30"

“Assimilation”, Acrylic & Ink, 40″ x 30″


Since my “past life” was in business and accounting, I had a huge advantage in that area. I had also helped my husband with his business website, so was able to transfer those skills to my own site. But most artists I know don’t have that background and many don’t realize the importance. If you want to be in business, you must consider yourself a businessperson as much as you do an artist. I’m fortunate to live in Montana where we have a well-known program for artists called the MT Artpreneur Program. There are similar programs in some other states and in some colleges, so if you have that resource where you live, it’s extremely helpful and has also been invaluable to me for the networking.


"Spring Rising", Mixed Media, 24" x 12"

“Spring Rising”, Mixed Media, 24″ x 12″


Through paying or bartering, it’s wise to hire out the things that you don’t want to or can’t do. Having, for example, a bookkeeper or web person on your team is worth the weight in gold and is a great investment in your business.


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