Told by a college art teacher that she had no talent, Sybil Gibson defied that statement and adhered to her belief that “true art” comes from within. Gibson grew up the daughter of a wealthy coal merchant and was offered many opportunities to succeed. Yet her extreme need for privacy led to occasional lengthy disappearances, often leaving everything and everyone behind. She achieved her B.S. in Elementary Education from Jacksonville State Teachers College and worked various elementary school teaching positions throughout her working career. Gibson’s interest in making her own pretty wrapping paper was inspired by paper she had seen for sale in shops; she deduced that she could easily create her own in her kitchen at home. Gibson often moved between the two states of Alabama, her birth state, and Florida, the home of her daughter from her marriage to Hugh Gibson.
Gibson’s images are often ephemeral and dreamy and her colors are soft hues and muted tones. She had a preference for brown paper bags and other used papers salvaged from the trash. Gibson acknowledged that good quality art paper “turned her off” while something destined for the trash bin “turns her on.” Sybil Gibson’s work shows an evolution in style; her early period shows she found her direction and subject matter – yet the works show evidence of hesitation. Gibson’s mature period, where her style became solidified and exuded confidence, lasted fifteen years ending in 1985 when she took a hiatus from working to focus on her health.