Susan Libby Illustrates “Summer Escapes” as Cairns

“Summer Escapes” is the exhibit currently showing at Desert Artisan’s Gallery, bringing together all the feelings and images Tucsonans identify with during our hot monsoon season.

The sizzling temperatures in Southern Arizona often conjure up dreams of cooler places. These dreams are translated by our local artists into representations of unique locations.

Susan Libby, one of the gallery’s long-time artists, and a past gallery president, has envisioned and created three strikingly unique cairn paintings to fit this theme. What is a cairn? It is a word derived from Scottish Gaelic for a handmade stack of rocks. Cairns were frequently used as signposts, marking physical as well as spiritual pathways.

Seaside Cairn

Where do you think of when you dream of escapes from the Tucson summer? If you said ‘the beach’, you would be in great company. The first of Susan’s cairn series depicts a seaside stack. You can almost hear the ocean through the painting if you put your ear close enough.

Well-known local artist, Susan Libby, creating in acrylic, has produced these vividly colorful pieces full of whimsy for the summer show.

“Seashells by the Seashore” by Susan Libby

The balancing act of seashore treasures is magical in Susan’s painting entitled “Seashells by the Seashore”. The cairn clearly points the way to clear waters lapping at your toes and a fresh sea breeze tousling your hair if you allow your imagination to follow its path. Sand dollars, sea urchins, a starfish, a little snail, and smooth driftwood conjure up happy memories of special beach days. In addition, the relaxing turquoise ocean colors form a perfect backdrop in this 24” x 12” painting on canvas.

 The three tiny ocean-smoothed pebbles on the side, allowing the whole cairn to balance, are my favorite parts, personally. What are yours?


If cooler, pine-scented air is your preferred escape, then the destination might be closer than you think. Arizona’s own mountains are cool, tranquil islands above the hot valley floor.

“Pinecones and Acorns in the Forest” by Susan Libby

“Pinecones and Acorns in the Forest” is equally creative and mesmerizing as its seaside counterpart. The relaxing forest greens and blues transport you to a cooler, shaded spot under a large pine tree, surrounded by pinecones scattered on the ground. I love the trio of acorns balancing the tiny pinecone to top off this cairn.


“Home Sweet Home” by Susan Libby

The contentedness of a lazy day at home is evoked in this third cairn painting. The backyard oasis of our own Tucson desert home is illustrated by the pieces of cactus balancing amongst the rocks in “Home Sweet Home”. This colorful painting by Susan Libby will arrive for our August show, entitled “Spirit of the Desert”.

The design matches the artist, since Susan is a Tucson Native. As you can see, Susan expresses her love of all that nature has to offer through her paintings.

All three of Susan’s creative, original paintings are 24″ x 12″ and are priced at $420 each.

Visit our gallery on or after August 10th to view our new show and all three of Susan Libby’s cairn paintings. Desert Artisans’ Gallery, 6536 E. Tanque Verde Rd, Tucson, Arizona. 520-722-4412. This special cooperative gallery, featuring all local, juried artists, is over 30 years old!



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