Nine years

Sunrise on Lake Ontario

I am feeling rather introspective this morning. The morning has been lovely, quiet, and full of reflection. The sounds of waves lapping assertively against the break wall have a beautiful rhythm to it. Today, I made sure I was up to watch the sun come up. I sat outside, by the lake breeze blowing not only my hair but also my thoughts. (I am house sitting for a friend at her lake house). Sitting here in quiet, with my swirling thoughts, it is important to take some time to reflect on the past nine years of this journey.

Water is one of my favorite places to be. Water seems to be a comfort and an inspiration for me. The sun slowly rising. The breeze was significant, the water rather turbulent. I have always been fascinated by Lake Ontario as it can be so “oceanesque”. The waves wild and forceful, the water goes on forever both in-depth and distance. 

This all seems to be the metaphor of the day for me. When I began Create Art 4 Good nine years ago, I honestly had no idea of what this would become. In the beginning, just like a drop of water, it was simple. It had purpose, it certainly had intent, but I had no clue how expansive it would become, how wildly energetic it would be, and how it would create a vital new part of life for me.

I don’t want to write about the statistics for this business. I am honored to have hosted hundreds of artists, thousands of patrons, paid it forward to numerous charities and celebrated many events. Create Art 4 Good seems to have a life of its own. I have often teased that I need to try to “keep up” with the ball of energy that it is. While I do have an ever-evolving business plan, I often feel like the business is here to teach ME, it certainly inspires and challenges me. 

I began this business shortly after my mother passed away. After losing her it was clear to me that I needed to direct my energy somewhere with the greatest of intentions. I wanted to do something proactive and positive. I wanted a place to be all that I am and become who I was meant to be in the world. Create Art 4 Good has provided many opportunities for me. I have grown, I have learned, I have trusted in sometimes the scariest moments. It hasn’t always been easy. It hasn’t always been a linear path. However, the journey has been rich and wonderful. 

I have learned that organization is key, planning ahead is vital, and pushing out of my introverted shell essential. One of the biggest lessons learned seems to be about risk and authenticity. I believe I have wandered through much of my life trying to meld into other people’s expectations instead of living my true fingerprint. I have learned that my greatest success has come through my own authenticity. Create Art 4 Good began as a pop-up gallery, wherever I could find space. Nearly seven years ago, I found a permanent space at the Hungerford building. I represented seventeen artists that October opening, however, and shockingly, not one of them was me.

On opening night, I had work hung from the floor to the ceiling and there was literally not one piece of my own artwork. I explained that my work was primarily at my sister’s business at the time, there was no time to move it over, the excuses brimmed hollowly with the disguise of altruism. It was not until years later that I have discovered that perhaps it was not all so altruistic, but perhaps fear that prevented me from sharing my art as well. 

Even though I have done art shows and shown in galleries for over thirty-five years, in the beginning, I considered it humility that I was showing the work of others and not my own. It is easier for me to speak about and promote other artists. It is more difficult to share my own, be that level of vulnerable and self-promoting. What I celebrated in others, I did not have the courage to celebrate in myself. 

Oh, the lessons we learn!

The best of who you are is within you! Live your fingerprint!

In the last few years, I have moved to a new space, opened a greeting card company (Greetings 4 Good), and shared more of my work both in my own studio as well as other galleries and exhibitions. I have quit my full-time position to give all of my energy to this business.  I have worked to open the door to vulnerability and embraced the opportunity to share more of me. Create Art 4 Good is a mindset, not just a business. Making the effort to share my own “fingerprint” seems to have a power that I could have never imagined. It allows me to confidently live this dream and also continue to offer the opportunity to others. I cannot ask others to share their work with the world if I was not prepared to do so with the same tenacity. 

So today, I celebrate this nine-year journey. I celebrate a business that has survived against many odds, I celebrate the personal journey that has brought me here, I celebrate the opportunity to share my art, the art of others and pay it forward. Today marks nine years of a journey I could have never imagined, but am truly grateful for.

Thank you for celebrating with me today. I promise you, the best is yet to be.

celebrating nine years!

Integrated Voices- a female perspective

Several years ago I was brainstorming details for the gallery and diligently tried to come up with ideas that would be unique, interesting, and perhaps even challenging as future exhibitions. Over the years there have been many, some fun, some tenacious, some fairly common. This month, however, is a bit riskier. 

Last February, I invited thirteen female artists to collaborate on this exhibit. First, thirteen?  An odd number?? What if they all said yes? I asked who I thought I was supposed to and knew it would work out. In the end, ten said yes. TEN! Perfect. 

I put all the names in a hat and paired them up. I DID! This way, I had no control over anything. The directions were simple. Each artist would collaborate. Each would begin a piece, pass it to their partner and then finish the piece they were given. This involved a diverse group of artists, few who worked in the same media. What a challenge! 

I believe I speak for all when I suggest that we have each learned so much, not only about our own work and process, but about ourselves, and certainly about our partners. 

The exhibit officially opens on Friday, August 2 @5pm. Many of the artists will be there! 

I hope you will be too!

And so it begins

The art of paying it forward.

Disclaimer: I actually wrote this blog two months ago. I have been struggling with it ever since. First, I don’t like rocking the boat. It is uncomfortable. I want to inspire, not tick people off. But this topic is important. It is hopefully an opportunity to at the very least make people think about what they are asking for.

Secondly, this is NOT to stop requests. It is to as previously stated, just open the door for discussion, raised consciousness.

Lastly, Thank you for reading this. Sometimes we just need to be heard. That said, on to the rocking of the boat.

 Today I received an email from a stranger asking for art. This isn’t an unusual circumstance, I receive many each year. I admit, when this first began happening I was flattered. They wanted my work! It felt validating. Some of the requests even suggested that it was a good move for me to gain exposure. That made a great deal of sense to me at the time. After all, I NEED to make art, why let it sit in the studio collecting dust? Why not give to someone who will get it out in the world!?

Then I gained more spirit, I am more experienced, I grew, and a very wise person suggested that perhaps I shouldn’t part with my work so easily. She told me that it was certainly a good thing to help people in need, but why must it be ALWAYS for free? She suggested I could give a generous price break, but I should ask to be compensated for my work. 

I responded with,” because that is what we do, we help.”

She then asked if Wegmans (our local grocery store) would give me my groceries for free if I asked them. 

“No,” I replied. 

The problem becomes bigger when you receive requests dozens of times each month. As a business that has grown over the last eight years, I have literally hundreds of requests and I still find It is difficult to say no. Everyone is in need it seems, everyone is trying to do good things. However, practically speaking, there is no way I could give to everyone who requests.  That said, we are all trying to help each other, right?

I think that artists are particularly vulnerable. After all, artists are doing what we love to do, right? That is payment enough, right? Perhaps. However, artists, just like everyone else still have to pay for not only materials to create art but all the other line items that go along with living life.  This IS our job, this IS our vocation. 

I am reminded that we generally don’t ask for other services or other items for nothing. The electric company doesn’t compromise on being paid each month, nor does the mortgage company, or even the grocery store. 

Why am I bringing this up?

It isn’t that I don’t want to help. I do. I actually donate a portion of every single sale made at my gallery to one of several local charities. I guess I am hoping that we will be more sensitive. Art is like any other profession. There is skill involved. There is effort. There are expenses. Just like the auto mechanic, your doctor, your plumber, or your cable provider, we exchange money for services.  While it is true, many artists follow their big dreams and create art every day.  I would imagine that every human who grows up to be what they have dreamt of being has a similar fulfillment. Art is no different. 

So the next time you ask someone to design a tattoo for you, design your business card, paint a picture of your grandmother, donate art to your favorite charity or whatever the case may be, be sensitive. Be honorable. Think about what you are asking for.  Know that what is donated to you is a huge gift. Consider the fact that like anything else, art is a valuable resource. It doesn’t happen magically.

While it is true that artists generally love the work, the process, they also appreciate the opportunity to put food on their table, heat their homes, and buy more art supplies. 

Thank you for listening. 

Blessings & love, 

Susan.

P.S. 

This does not in any way mean that I will never give away a piece of art. It only means that I am trying to share insight from the other side. Thank you for your awareness. a heart painting created on player piano paper

 

 

Diane Hibbard- Escape into Nature

Diane sat on my sofa one afternoon sharing with me that many changes were happening in her life. Like most of us, she seemed to see this as both a little scary as well as an opportunity. We sat and talked. We brainstormed, we problem solved. As we were tossing a few ideas around,  it seemed obvious I should offer her opportunity in the July exhibit. 

Before I knew it we were discussing the opportunity, planning the wonder of the show.

Just like success comes in many packages, Diane seemed ready for new steps in her life. Diane’s passion for photography, as well as her very spiritual connection to nature, is personified in the images she will share. 

One of the things I love about her work is the profound connection she has to her subject. A tree, an animal, a body of water. They all have stories to tell, and Diane does her best to share that with you. 

I hope you will join us. You won’t regret it. 

blessings, Susan

Art and rituals

Hannah Hamad shares the gallery this month. Hannah, like many of us, is a lovely assemblage of many things. She is a medical student (nearly finished), devoted to fitness and maybe a little adventure, and she is an artist. There are countless more ways to describe Hannah, but we will settle here for now. Her friend, Connie suggests that Hannah never does anything half way. She is “all in”.

That is clear with this exhibit. There are dozens of bowls carefully and pristinely crafted waiting to go home with the right person. Hannah’s workmanship is incredible. Her vision goes far beyond a block of wood. She is careful in her selections and sometimes even gets multiple pieces out of one block. As someone who has turned, this is not an easy thing to do! What Hannah turns into another vessel, would be woodchips on the studio floor for me. 

I have spent quite a bit of time with Hannah’s work this month. I am fascinated by the textures and colors that I witness. I am enchanted by the multiple shapes and sizes.  I began thinking about the fact that these are not only art but art that could have a purpose other than appreciation. 

Hannah’s title, “To Celebrate the Void” also inspired me. It has been a challenging month with a great loss of my “other” mother, Ginny Duffy. If I could ever name a time where I felt completely empty and useless it is during the time I have lost my own parents and now my other mom too. I felt powerless. I wanted to help, heal, anything! Prayer became a constant for me. 

One of the frustrations I have about merely praying silently is it does not seem to be proactive enough. I suppose because I like to write, am an artist as well as visual and tactile in general, I want there to be more. I have used prayer beads when words fail me, I have a prayer journal to remember all those who are in need. There is something sacred about a more physical opportunity for prayer. It seems to have a power that I cannot explain. 

Back to Hannah’s bowls. For me, the fact that they have come from the earth already makes them a sacred vessel. How much more so to use them as a prayer or intention bowl? I certainly do not wish to push my belief system on you, however, I see these pieces of art as not just beautiful, but also as an opportunity for utility. Like a prayer journal, her bowls could hold the most sacred and urgent of intentions, her efforts lifting the hearts deepest desires. 

I hope that you will make time to stop in and see these beautiful pieces. Hannah has gone above and beyond to create the perfect piece for you to celebrate your own journey. 

blessings, 

Susan

Hannah Hamad’s To Celebrate the Void will be up through May 27th, 2019. Hours are Wednesday 10 am – 2 pm, Thursday 3-7pm, Friday 2-5 pm, and Saturday 10 am -3 pm. Hours are also available by chance or appointment. Susan@CreateArt4Good.org

With Gratitude

Sometimes, the busy of owning a small business seems to get in the way. I spend a great deal of time “working this” business. I do everything from bookkeeping to mopping floors, making art for cards and other fun, to PR. There always seems to be a minimum of 45 things on the to-do list. Sometimes I get weary. 

Today, there were about 145 things on the to-do list. Each one led to about 34 more tasks. It seemed to be unending. However, I did manage to get a few things done, and I even prepared dinner for my husband and me.

But it was frustrating. For a time I concentrated on the frustration part Things were not working the way I had become accustomed, while more and more demands were made on my time. Technology was wonky, time was passing too quickly without accomplishing much, and distractions seemed to be winning over work. 

But the gratitude thing. This way of life I have chosen seems to always be sitting in the passenger seat of my world. Even though I was frustrated, tired, and yes (ask my husband) grumpy, I am grateful. While finishing up my taxes, I realized that my hard work has been paying off and I didn’t even realize it. 

But numbers don’t lie. 

I have spoken a great deal of late about how I don’t view success in dollar signs. While that is absolutely true, dollars do help keep your doors open. What I witnessed as I finished up is that it has been my most financially successful year yet. Once that realization sunk in a bit, all I could feel was grateful. 

So thank you. You who read my blog, support my art, support the work of my guest artists and those who buy cards. Thank you for holding your celebrations in my studio, for attending workshops, for coming to First Friday or a random Wednesday afternoon. Thank you for participating in challenges, and calls for art. Thank you for stopping in to say hello, for encouraging words, and for your kindness. You are the reason that this is growing. You are the reason for my efforts. You are literally helping me make my dream come true. 

Thank you. I am so grateful. 

Peace & love, 

Susan

Mixed Media Art

When I think about mixed media I cannot tell you how excited I get. For me, each medium in art has a unique and wonderful strength. There are several (in my opinion) that work incredibly well together. It is magic. I LOVE IT. 

If you think this is a trendy form of art I will suggest to you that it is actually the opposite. Degas would use charcoal, pastels, and even printing inks all together in one piece. You can see some of Edgar’s works here. Picasso, DaVinci are also fine examples. I suppose my point is an opportunity that some of the greats have utilized. 

I suppose I have never been a purist. I don’t cook by the book, nor do I create art that way. I love the power of a watercolor wash, the texture and depth that collage creates, I get darn excited by adding layers of colored pencil, ink, and maybe even a stitch or two. 

Mixed media art feels like a way of life for me. While some might see it as an excuse to buy more art supplies, I see it as a way to use everything for the strongest possible component to create one strong piece of art. 

This week begins a five-week workshop to explore mixed media techniques. We will not only explore each medium for the gift that it is, but we will also learn how to incorporate it utilizing several other mediums. I hope you will find some time to join us- you will be glad that you did. 

Mixed Media Workshop Mixed media is the best of all the processes for art. (in my humble opinion)  Each medium has it’s own beautiful strength and lends itself to working in cooperation with others. This workshop will teach you the strengths and applications for a variety of media and then inspire you to apply them in your own unique and creative way.  Each week we will build on the previous week.

Mixed media on watercolor paper- Susan Carmen-Duffy Artist

  • water media (both water watercolor and acrylic)
  • colored pencil
  • collage
  • inking
  • monoprinting

Facilitator: Susan Carmen-Duffy

5-week workshop- 2 hours a day.  $145- most supplies included

March 13, 20, 28, April 3, 10 4-6pm or  Evening workshop tickets

March 14, 21, 28 April 4 & 11 10 am- 12 noon   Daytime workshop tickets  

Welcome March

Well… it has been a heck of a winter. Personally there have been challenges and professionally I have not been painting nearly as much as I hoped. BUT! Spring is coming! As I write this, the sun is shining and all seems to be moving in the right direction. 

Tonight opens Andrew Dumar’s “Layers of Illusion”. I honestly cannot wait for you to witness this exhibit. It is truly amazing. Please be sure to make time to see it this month. 

The exhibit will be open for the month of March and after tonight you may make an appointment to see it, come to an event at the studio or stop in Wednesdays 10 am – 2 pm, Thursdays 3-7 pm, Fridays 2-5 pm and Saturdays 10 am – 3pm. Do make time to see this. It is incredible!

Create Art 4 Good and Greetings 4 Good just sponsored a month long inspiration called, “the month of love”. It seems silly to dedicate all that love to one day, so we spread it out. We sent notes and letters all month long using daily prompts. You can see what we were up to here: The Thoughtfulness Project. 

Speaking of which- at the top of that page there is a little inspiration for March. It is definitely a feel good project- give it a shot. 

So how are you doing with incorporating creativity in your life? I don’t know if you have heard, but creativity improves your health. Don’t believe me? Check this article out! In all seriousness, creativity helps to reduce stress, is an active mediation and frankly it is so many good things! I offer private workshops as well as group workshops. Take a chance on  you, no experience is required, only an open heart. Here are the current offerings, more to come!

I want to thank you- thank you for your support of Create Art 4 Good, for Greetings 4 Good. These are lifelong dreams come true. I simply cannot express the depth of my gratitude. 

I hope your day is beautiful. Take time for yourself. Breathe a little. Smile intentionally and love so big. 

Love & Peace to you always, 

Susan

Introducing Maria Rollinson

I have had the honor of witnessing the growth of this young woman in the art world for about seven years. Maria was one of the first students to hang her work in my then brand new gallery at the Hungerford building. Maria is smart, sensitive and one of the most gentle souls I have ever known. Like most of us, art has been a journey for her. Sometimes incredibly vulnerable, but also an opportunity for great pride. 

Now in her sophomore year of college, Maria is joining us for a few weeks as a treasured intern. She will do some of the PR, some of the planning for the year and hopefully gain some experience in running a small art gallery. I am thrilled and honored to introduce her to you! 

My treasured intern! Maria Rollinson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maria has a few words to share with you too!

Hello everyone! I am so excited to spend my winter break interning here at Create Art 4 Good. I first came across this wonderful little gallery about five years ago when I was a freshman in high school. I was in studio art when my teacher informed me that a piece I had made earlier in the year was selected to be shown in a gallery. I was so excited. On opening night I remember staring at my closet trying to figure out what to wear; I wanted to come across as “adult” and “edgy”. (Looking back at that outfit I think I missed the mark stumbling in my high heels and ripped jeans.) When we arrived at Create Art 4 Good that night, I remember being amazed that a building like the Hungerford existed and that I had never heard of it before. I also remember the feeling of pride when I saw my artwork hanging on the wall. It was the first time I felt like I could truly call myself an artist.

That night opened me up to be more serious about the artwork I created. It also showed me how much the art community in Rochester has to offer. Throughout high school, I continued to explore different forms of art at school and in my free time. I remember first Fridays with my family and taking classes at the Brainery with my sister. All of it made me fall more in love with art. And then Senior year came and I was asked “where do you want to go to school?” and “what do you want to major in?” Suddenly everything felt to real. I was scared to tell people that I didn’t know. I was even more scared to say I liked art. As much as I love that world, I didn’t want to be an artist where it is hard to get recognition and even harder to get paid for it.

I ended up going undeclared to the University of New Hampshire. For most of freshman year I explored different classes trying to figure out what interested me. Once again, I found myself taking art classes but the one course that really stuck out to me was art history. I was still too scared to declare a major though. In the end, I was forced to when I signed up for a study away program in Boston. I had all my paperwork processed and had been accepted into the program but the university hadn’t given me the okay yet because I was undeclared. At the very last moment, I declared art history.

During my time in Boston, I have been reassured of this decision over and over again. I have explored so many art museums and have met so many great artists. It was because of the program I was in that led to me reaching out to Mrs. Carmen-Duffy for an internship at the gallery that first set me on this journey.

Maria Rollinson

 

Some riches aren’t in the cash register

Tonight I had a guest artist come to visit. During this Holiday Boutique, I have invited the various artists to come and share more of their work along with visiting with potential clients. It is a fun business practice. It offers a more quiet opportunity to have a lovely conversation with the artist. 

As a business person, in this situation, you want a line out the door. You want people ready to speak to your guest artist, but also, ready to buy from her and frankly,.. you. Art is one difficult business because most artists create with their hearts. It is difficult not to feel rejected when your art isn’t flying off the walls or shelves. 

I invited Racheal Gootnick of Just Terrific to share the evening. We both did the work. We advertised, we invited friends and followers. We had big hopes!

Rachael brought so many delightful pieces. It was incredible! Journals, pendants, earrings, ornaments and more! I wanted the entire world to see what she created! Rachael’s attention to detail and integrity in not only creation but in using materials that are upcycled was inspiring. Rachael pays attention to not only her workmanship but also each piece has depth and meaning. 

Tonight was not a retailer’s dream. It was much quieter than anticipated. However, as I sit here to write this for you after a fourteen hour day, I feel so much richer for the experience. I am so grateful. 

I have known Rachael for a few years, however, tonight, I really got to know her. I learned about her journey, what motivates her, that she loves restoration, but REALLY loves her miniatures. I learned how deeply she cherishes family, but maybe not every single one of the 20,000 photos that were stored as treasures marking family history. (frankly, some were just blurry!) I learned that like me, Rachael NEEDS to do meaningful work, not just work for the sake of it. She likes the layers, the journey, and the detail. I learned that this young human is a very old soul. Even her table is dressed in her grandmother’s antiques. (If you took a black and white photo of her, she could be from the 1920’s!)

In a life where we

Rachael Gootnick of Just Terrific

are so often running to the next appointment or hustling out the door, I sat, with my friend, and learned about her. There was no hustle or bustle, there was quiet, stories, laughter and sharing. We even discussed the idea of collaboration for an August exhibit (more on that later!)  

 

 

While we both have bills to pay and huge sales would have been lovely, tonight was full of riches for me. I connected to someone on a real level with art as the stage that was set. Regardless of age, art seems to break down walls. It opens up the opportunity for much more than a few sales. 

Rachael is a woman who is on a mission. Who is changing lives, one book at a time. I am honored to share her work and to call her my friend. 

blessings to you on this beautiful night, 

Susan