Caitlin Tibbs is an Indiana native living in Bloomington with her husband, two children, cat, chickens and pigeons. She attended Indiana University, where she received her BFA in 2013. Caitlin’s artwork is “inspired by the little moments in everyday life.”
Although Caitlin didn’t start painting until college, she has always found ways to be creative. Whether it was collecting discarded items, making pipe cleaner creatures or drawing, she has always found joy in creating. She says, “I have always been bombarded with thoughts and ideas. Being able to create a thought into something tangible is very exciting. I feel honored to get these ideas out of my head and give them life.”
She typically gives her ideas life through the act of painting, “There is something about pushing paint around on a palette to create a rich, creamy color and applying it one stroke at a time. It is a forgiving medium allowing me to play and explore without too much risk. For me painting is much more about the physical process of using blocks of shape and color to create an image than conveying a message.”
Caitlin is drawn to creating works of animals, which she finds to be “incredibly mysterious.” She points out that we can spend time with them, study their behaviors and habits, but can never fully understand them. She says, “I love how they all seem to have their own unique personalities that are expressed through body language.”
One of Caitlin’s favorite subjects is birds, which she says are “visually odd” creatures. They stand on two very skinny legs and have robust bodies that come in all sorts of variations. They are intelligent creatures and coexist with other much larger animals. Most of all, she reminds us, they are all around and often go unnoticed (“like flying ninjas”).
Her other favorite subject is livestock which she describes as “beautiful animals.” She has always enjoyed cattle, but not until recently have they become a true obsession. She explains that when her own life becomes noisy and chaotic, livestock can provide a calm, still moment.
“You can stop, look out into a field and just watch them standing. Take a deep breath in and forget about life just for a second, admiring their beauty. Also, I absolutely love the smell of cows.” Although she is not able to “just hang out with cows” too often, they are always there on the side of the road to remind her to slow down and remember how simple and beautiful life can be. With regards to painting cattle, Caitlin notes that they have lots of sharp angles as well as soft curves, which she sees as a fun challenge.
Her two favorite subjects happen to have a great relationship with one another. Cattle stir up bugs from the grass for birds to eat, and birds eat parasites off the cattle. She says, “If that’s not true friendship, what is?”
When Caitlin is not painting, she often finds herself enjoying the outdoors with her husband and two children or at the sewing machine. She has taken it upon herself to sew her own wardrobe, and says, “It’s a liberating process and is great for someone who dislikes shopping for clothes.”