Elizabeth W. Gibson's family migrated from a small town in a southern part of mainland China called Canton. Grandfather Chang decided not to go to "Gold Mountain", the place where the roads were paved with gold, known as the California coast. Instead, he took a shorter boat trip and immigrated to the island of Hawaii in pursuit of the tales of abundant prosperity. The mythical stories of China fed her mind as a child and continue to do so in the fantasy stories she writes and in her paintings. She studied fine art in Paris at the Parson's School of Design, where the classrooms were the city's museums and the Master paintings and sculptures were the in room.