One step at a time.

It’s interesting you know, I speak with so many people who say to me, “I could never do what you do.” or the ever popular, ” I cannot even draw a stick figure.”

My usual response is well, one step at a time. One line at a time- it all seems to work out in the end. So yesterday- I decided to start a piece and document the process.

This piece employs graphite (which I did not document), watercolor and ink.

As you can see- it’s one step at a time.

IMG_7452I began with a compass, on a piece of mixed media weight paper. Added a bit of watercolor.

simple right?



then I added a bit of detail with ink. I am fascinated by zen-tangle, how it makes me feel- the transformation of spirit, The process is simple each line added to the next , on to the next

IMG_7453As you can see no real “talent” is required,

it is simply a case of being patient and consistent with the process.

IMG_7455filling in the details, one line at a time


IMG_7456I wanted some detail in the center. Most Mandala work begins with the center and works outward. Much like our own lives. We start inside and we bloom on the outside!


IMG_7458I feel like the inking changed the entire dynamic with the piece. I am not a “fan” of oranges typically, but paired with the inks, I think it works.


IMG_7459Now time to add more detail. just simple lines

IMG_7460starting from the center, working outward, things seem to be clearer. I almost cannot keep up with the lines I know I should be putting down. It was an exciting process – I couldn’t wait to get to the end!

IMG_7463simple lines added to create beauty.



The other thing worth noting is that this did not take all day. This piece was a matter of a couple of hours. I sat in my wonderfully warm studio, enjoying each step. taking a moment to document them so I could share them with you


IMG_7467this piece was exactly what I needed. Art restores my soul from the stresses and strains of every day life. As you can see – this did not require any sort of amazing talent. While it might sound cliche – you need only an open heart and willing spirit.  The rest of it takes over. I promise!

I invite you to attend my next watercolor zentangle workshop on March 21 at 1PM. To reserve your seat for the workshop email:

blessings to you-



Will You Give an Inch?

Will you give an inch so that I can reach a mile?

It’s interesting- I have long believed that it is important to work hard for what you need. It’s actually a great thing, fills you with accomplishment and maybe even a bit of pride. I believe that with everything I am.

These days I am working hard and dreaming out loud. I am moving forward with CA4G in a powerful way- doing my best to make a difference and pay it forward.

My dreams include a more professional space. Every time I hang a show I pull out the nails from the previous exhibit, often spackling and repairing the wall. Sometimes I even feel the need to paint it. Then once it is dry I hang the next show. Sometimes adjusting several times before I am satisfied with the exhibit. This takes a great deal more time then when I used to hang exhibits with a hanging system.

I admit, I often rehang a show several times before it’s right. I think the worst hanging experience was about nine hours.

So, that said, I believe that a hanging system is a need not a desire. I can make the wall “pretty” (or as pretty as an old industrial wall can be) and put the hanging system up and have a beautiful, professionally hung exhibit in much shorter amount of time.

hanging system

I’d be less frustrated

I’d be able to devote my time to changing my corner of the world (not just the holes in my wall!)

I would honor the work my artists more effectively.

And the other thing-

If you have been to my studio you have seen the MASSIVE lights I have- those giant, fluorescent icky green lights. I have done my best to disguise them and create what I oh so lovingly call “clouds”. However as oddly charming as I pretend they are, they do not qualify for a professional set of lights. They do not show the work as I would love to.

I would be so grateful to have lights too.


Some have suggested that I find a new space- but, I honestly love my space at the Hungerford. I am thrilled to be a part of such a dynamic group. I appreciate the efforts of each artist there. Regardless if we work on a project together or find ourselves tinkering away on a piece of art at some odd time of the day or night, the spirit of the Hungerford Urban Artists cannot be beaten. They are my artist family. I am honored to be there.

The reality is because of my goals and mission statement- I give a lot away. This does not afford me an opportunity to purchase a hanging system or lights any time soon.

I have investigated the idea of crowd funding, or some other form of raising the money to bring Create Art 4 Good to the next level. I was ready to launch one idea and another arts organization in the area launched something similar. They say there are no new ideas, however, I’d like to think I can at least put a bit of a spin on an old idea.

So here goes.

I need your help. I really want to bring CA4G to shine as brightly as possible. I want to be able to use my energy as effectively as possible to shake up the art world, the community, heck the world! I want to honor artists and their art, I want to inspire someone who has never held a paintbrush to hold one and use it and be down right excited about their accomplishments. I want to pay it forward in a HUGE way.

How are we going to do this?

Inch by inch.

You read correctly- inch by inch

Do me a favor- go to Pinterest and look up “inchies”

I know you probably think it is some lil cute lil thing. NOPE. It is an opportunity for a piece of art that is no bigger than an inch. Crazy right? Are you as blown away as I am by what you see?

I would very much appreciate it if you would make one and donate it to CA4G.( Or maybe even a dozen- whatever works for you). I will be collecting them from now until November 15th, 2015. Then inchie artists unite! They will take over the gallery for the December small works exhibit (we are taking a small works exhibit to a whole new level!)

May I tell you? I am grateful, in advance. I believe this could be a really powerful event. It will help me immeasurably- Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

The really neat thing is- this can be sent from anywhere in a small envelope- it isn’t costly to create, it is a small space- it will push your creativity and well, I am pretty darn excited.

There will be more details to follow- I just wanted to get the ball rolling.

If you are in the Rochester area I will be having an “inchie party” once a month. I will provide art supplies, you bring your creative spirit! (and anything you would prefer to work on) The first party is Wednesday, January 28th at Create Art 4 Good 6:30pm-8:30pm. Please let me know you are coming-

I have broken all the rules here- the blog is too long, I am asking for a crazy amount of generosity, there are probably 27 things wrong with this idea, yet, I KNOW it is going to be successful.

Thank you for your inch- I am pretty excited about what is yet to be.

Blessings, love and deepest gratitude.



It’s the fourth day of the new year, so I suppose that means I have 361

Regardless that would seem to be quite a few days to live however we choose to. It’s a clean slate, it’s an opportunity.

I wonder sometimes why we wait until January 1st to embrace this idea of a clean slate. In reality every minute of every day you have the opportunity to change what you do, how you think and how you act. You have the power to change what was past and not acceptable and make it a future of success.


right now, in your heart- in your spirit.


It’s all there. No date on a calendar, no magic, no nothing. YOU HAVE IT NOW

The thing about that is, if you understand this concept you also are very aware that every moment is a new opportunity.

So if you have already blown your diet, or skipped the gym, didn’t read last night or forgot to call Grandma- YOU STILL CAN. Yesterday might not have been perfect- today is full of possibilities.

My advice to you is this-

1. Live in the moment- make your very best intent come true

2. Don’t set yourself up. There are literally only 24 hours in the day- find your balance, prioritize, but take time to accomplish what is important to you

3. breathe- see #2 Balance is key

4. Evaluate with objectivity your day (NOT EMOTiON)- what did you accomplish successfully, what could you have done better? How could you have made better choices to be more successful?

5. Try to see WHY you made the choices you did. Every behavior has a function- how did your choices serve you in the moment? What could you have done to ultimately serve your goals.

6. Forgive yourself, move on. The next moment is fresh and new- you can choose to mourn your failures or celebrate your potential.


I wish you the most success possible.

In Peace & Love,






The art of Christmas

It seems to me that as we age we are caught between the idea that we have to provide all (material things) for our families and the knowledge that stuff does not make or break a holiday; people do.

A few days ago I was completely stressing about “enough” for my children and granddaughter. What is “enough” exactly? 

Enough might mean taking time to meet your family for midnight mass instead of prettying up packages that are already wrapped and tagged and complete. (NO we do not have to complete with pinterest)

Enough might mean putting down your cell phone and embrace a conversation with those you cherish as family and friends.

Enough might mean taking the time to breathe, simplify the menus and recognize that in a heartbeat NO ONE will remember if you whipped up something fancy or just created decent food that nourished their bodies and actually enjoyed a meal together.

Enough is realizing that the sound of laughter of your children, nieces, nephews and grandchild is worth more than anything that could possibly come in a box.

Enough means taking the time- to be still and listen. without embracing cliches, but to remember the reason we gather to celebrate this holy day to begin with.

Enough means a moment spent to comfort those who are mourning…  those who are hungry, those who are in need of something as simple as a hug, or a blessing.

Ribbons, boxes and wrappings trap us into thinking that they are important- but in reality they are temporary

they mean nothing

This holiday season, I wish you “enough”- I wish you the ability to recognize the incredible gifts you have and invite you to celebrate that wonder.

richest blessings be upon you



A closeup shot of a holly bush with red berries and green leaves.

So this happened

Today has been an overwhelming day- wonderful and positive – but still a bit over the top!

Why you ask?

a rather positive article about my work and Create Art 4 Good can be found here:

Artist with Heart: Susan Carmen-Duffy

I am so blessed to have incredible support of those around me. There were countless texts, emails, facebook posts, hugs and outpourings of kindness.

Thank you.

I don’t think any of us do what we do to find our way into the newspaper. I do know that this was a very positive and generous article that offered some insight into what I do.

The creation of art, supporting art and Create Art 4 Good seem to have an amazing, endless source of energy all their own. To me this isn’t difficult or challenging other than running out of hours in the day.

To me it is life giving. I am more grateful each day for the opportunity. To me this IS happiness- this is joy- this is life.

I am excited about the future, I am excited about the continuation of these efforts and I am excited (spoiler alert!!) about my book coming out in early 2015.

Stay tuned- the best is yet to be.


The art of a little bit of love

It happens, usually randomly. Someone bestows a little bit of kindness upon you and you are delightfully surprised. Sometimes it is JUST what you need. A simple card, a doodle, flowers- just something thoughtful.

In my life I have learned that it really doesn’t matter what the object is, it’s more about the intent. I actually have a bin in my studio, it’s label? “Thoughtfulness”. It contains cards and little items that I gather in anticipation of needing to send someone a little bit of love. It’s very helpful in a moment of wanting to bestow a bit of kindness. The really awesome thing is, I always feel the joy intended for the “giftee.

The awesome thing is that I too am abundantly blessed to have people share a little love with me. These last few weeks have been a bit of a challenge. I have had far too many thoughts swirling in my head. I know my life is in transition, or maybe I am just experiencing growing pains. While I feel positive about all of this in general, at times it can be difficult.

tonight I found myself exhausted. The day was long, I had a meeting and errands to run after work. I found myself coming home anxious to walk the dog and start dinner, my eye on the prize of taking ten and maybe wrapping gifts or closing my eyes for a minute.

Tis the season to have packages- I came home to several placed between the front door and the glass door in front. After placing them carefully on the table,I walked my faithful furry friend. Upon my return I shuffled through the mail, reviewed the packages and even opened a few of them. One of them came from my husband’s cousin. I was ever so curious about that one.

Inside was a lovingly written note and because these sweet souls follow my efforts at the gallery via social media, they were distinctly aware of my love of mandalas, prayer flags and Tibetan culture in general. Inside the package was not only a sweet and loving note , but also to my awe a Tibetan Khatak that was placed by the the High Lama at Sera Monestary.


To say I am blown away is completely an understatement.

I am not certain how to express the depth of my feeling.  I do know that this was a confirmation from the universe of all that is swirling in my head these days. A white Tibetan Khatak symbolizes purity of heart . Indeed it did for me.

The kindness

the thoughtfulness

the love

These things sustain me in my whirled thinking- this kindness shattered away any doubts.

a little bit of love, goes so very far.

I hope you are tempted to share your love with someone else. It needs not to be elaborate, only kind, positive and loving.

wishing you everything good.


The Art of Celebration

Today is my youngest child’s 21st birthday.

No, we are not having a party, no there is no birthday cake.

He is about three hundred and eight-six miles away.                                               but who is counting?

While my mother’s heart is terribly sad,                                                                       I know he is in the right place, doing the right thing.

Dylan 2014

This situation causes me to reflect on the celebrations of my life. It seems that as long as I can remember the effort to celebrate was constant. I learned quickly that you can celebrate every day not just on the Hallmark designated days.

this is a blessing.

When my brother was serving thirty years in the Navy often the opportunity to celebrate with him on a particular holiday was often impossible. We learned quickly that any day could be Christmas or your birthday. It was about being together. Taking a moment to honor and laughter. It was about effort made and love extended. It was not about a particular date

While I only was able to video conference with  my son today- I am grateful.He is away at school, learning new things – exploring his beloved vocation of the culinary arts and enjoying his life.

Today a celebrate him- I celebrate the completion of my family. There is no doubt that my three children and granddaughter are the brightest blessings in my life.

When this day is over, I will continue to celebrate him. I will continue to be grateful for the moments of laughter and joy we have shared. The deep intellectual conversations, the swapping of favorite recipes and the memories we have made and shared.

I hope that you too find a reason to celebrate today- every day.                                It makes life far less than ordinary- it makes the quiet moments even more important, the appreciation of what we have vital and the sad mommy moments not so painful.

Wishing you the dance of celebration.

sending peace and love to your precious heart-