Sybilla posing with one of her sculptures
Recently I wrote a story on some of the wonderful women who are out there in the woods investigating reported encounters, and searching for the truth that Bigfoot is still roaming the forests even today. There are just so many wonderful ladies in the field, and I’m hoping to highlight as many of them as I can for you, so you can to get to know what they do, and why they do it.
I was very lucky recently to have caught up to both a great researcher and artist that I admire. A wonderful role model for the future women of the Woods, Sybilla Irwin, just before she goes off grid and spends full time in the National Forests of Eastern Tennessee collecting and investigating witness accounts.
Here is that chat,
What is your earliest memory of drawing?
As a kid I adored horses. I loved to read stories and taught myself how to draw by studying the books illustrations. I would sit on the floor and pour over those illustrations for hours.
How long have you been interested in art?
I wasn’t seriously interested In art till I took an art history class at Texas A&M. In that class, one of the projects was to do two art pieces. It could be sculpture, or painting, In any medium. I chose to do two oil paintings. I had never painted In oils before. I chose to do two self portraits. One was in a very modern style, from a photograph, and the other was done sitting in front of a little mirror. I painted all through the night. (I still have both paintings).
When my professor saw them, he pulled me aside after class and begged me to leave the Theater Department, and transfer into the Art Department. He tried on multiple occasions to talk me into becoming an art student. I think that the turning point for me, when I realized from his reaction to my paintings…that I had some talent.
Sybilla creating her magic
Do you have a favorite medium?
Whatever medium I am currently working in…that’s my favorite.
I so enjoy the process of creating. Each medium has a different feel. I tend to work in cycles. I may paint In oils for months, then switch to wood burning. I may start the underpainting in acrylics and finish it in oils. I also love the immediacy of pastels.
Then there is sculpture…which I also adore…just so many mediums and so little time. Alas!
Sybilla working on one of her sculptures
I see that you have taught art as well, did you have a favorite class to teach? Or an age group you preferred working with?
I am a Certified Special Education teacher, and honestly my favorite classes we’re learning disabled children. There is nothing that compares to having a student advance four grades levels in their reading ability because you’ve had the time to spend with them.
I taught junior high art classes for nine years, they are my favorite age group to work with. I loved teaching children how to break a complex subject down into its basic shape, then make it look three dimensional with tonal values.
Does the idea for some pieces just jump in your mind, or are they triggered by something you’ve seen, what is your process?
Sometimes the shape of a piece of wood will suggest a sculpture. My creative juices get triggered by everything and anything, including dreams, and music. It can even be a spoken phrase. It’s crazy living with this brain.
How long have you been interested in Bigfoot?
I’ve been interested in Bigfoot, Aliens, Ghosts and all Cryptids since I was a little kid. I experienced a lot of weirdness growing up so I knew if these things were happening all around me, than there must be more going on in this reality than what meets the eye. Some of us are just wired differently.
How long have you been a Bigfoot researcher?
I became a member of the BFRO in March of 2008. Before joining the BFRO I had been reading reports and books on the subject since 2000.
Are you a skeptic or a believer?
I had my first visual encounter in October of 2008 in Honobia, Oklahoma. After you’ve seen, and heard them, you are no longer operating on belief, you’re a knower.
So you have seen them, felt them?
I have seen multiple. And I have definitely felt them around. I am a very sensitive person, I can feel when other things are around as well.
What made you put the two subjects together, the art and Bigfoot?
Another BFRO investigator asked me if I would be willing to work with one of his witnesses. She had found an image that was close to what she saw, but it needed some modifications with the hair. That’s what got me started. Other investigators then began approaching me to help with their witnesses as well.
I absolutely love working with witnesses. My heart goes out to the ones that have been traumatized by their encounters. Sometimes the drawings help them. For some…the nightmares stop.
Witness sketch from an encounter between a researcher and a Bigfoot in Oklahoma in 96′
What has the process like painting from witness encounters?
Typically when I am working with a witness, it starts with a long phone conversation. They tell me about their encounter, and then I ask a gazillion questions. I have to create an image in my mind before I can start. I know what questions to asks to help me build that image.
At the end of the session I will ask them to go to my web site and look at the witness sketches to see if there is anything there that resonates with what they saw. Sometimes they find one that looks very close, sometimes not.
I create the first iteration based on the interview, and I will send it to them. They tell me what corrections to make, and then we ping it back and forth until they tell me it’s perfect, or at least that it’s close as we are going to get. It is rewarding work.
Sketch from an encounter in 76′ in California
Is it harder to put a piece together if it’s a story you are struggling with?
It would be hard to put a piece together for someone that i did not believe was telling the truth.
Have you had Bigfoot art shows? Or are you planning too?
I speak at conferences, and show the witness sketches while telling them about witness encounters.
I have no plans to for an art show at this time, but will be working on a book.
Sybilla doing a convention presentation
Do you have a site where your art is available for purchase?
My art is available for purchase from my website and store.
Do you take commissions?
I do take commissions. Anyone wishing to inquire about a commission can reach me by email at:
or they contact me through my website above.
Is it hard juggling family, art and BFRO time?
My children are grown, happy and successful people. That enables me to travel and do the research and art that I love.
I am about to embark on a brand new research adventure, living off grid in my little camper in the National Forest, doing art work, and research full time. I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to do what I love.
Could you tell us a bit about your blog?
I started the blog when I was living at a research location in northern Kentucky. I would share some of the daily happenings at that location, including audio, photos. I will probably pick it back up once I am doing field work again full time…Soon!
Do you travel often?
I have been away from my home state of Texas since 2012. I lived on active habituation site for five years. I have been in Northern Georgia, working full-time at “Expedition Bigfoot” The Sasquatch Museum, for a year and a half. If you haven’t been to the museum it’s fabulous!
Now it’s time to get back into the what I love the most…Field work.
copyright March, 2019, property of Sasysquatchgirl and bigfootmountain, all rights reserved
All pictures from Sybilla Irwin’s collection, used with artist permission