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!

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

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

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

Gifted- A Curated Holiday Boutique

Gifted- A curated Holiday Boutique

The gallery is alive with the work of over twenty-five artists! It is such an honor to host such a lovely holiday boutique. The weekend was a busy one celebrating Black Friday and Small Business Saturday. Now it is time to get to work! 

If you are in the Rochester Area– The gallery is open Tuesday and Thursday from 10 am until 8 pm. Wednesday, Friday and Saturday it is open from 10 am until 4 pm. 

If you are NOT in the Rochester, NY Area, no worries! You can still shop for the most wonderful and special gifts for those you love. Each day for the next twenty-five days I will post a curated collection from the boutique.
The great part is you won’t even need to leave your house!

Shipping is available for you! I will use USPS shipping and will be the actual shipping cost. You will notice the collection of gifts and then each gift individually. Select the grouping or an individual gift! 

Because these gifts are each very unique, it will be first come, first served! 


How it works: check in every day- this tour of gifts is not to be missed! Look for gifts for your special holidays, birthdays or just because! Each day will be labeled. For instance, Day 1 will be 1. Each part of the gift collective will be labeled 1a, 1b, 1c, etc. As soon as you see what you want- send me an email (Susan@CreateArt4Good.org) and I will invoice you and prepare your package for shipping! Once your invoice has been paid for I will notify you when it has also shipped. This event ends on the 20th! Items are available until they are sold. I will note what has sold as it sells. 

One last detail- your purchase actually support very worthy charities/good works. Please review this page: http://createart4good.org/pay-it-forward/ and let me know which you’d like to support.

I am so excited to share these amazing pieces of art! I hope you are too! Please share with your friends! Let the fun begin!

So excited to share Collection #1– If you’d like the collection it is $153 plus tax & shipping! First Come, first served. These are unique items unless otherwise noted – Do you have a special someone you’d like to purchase this for? Or perhaps you’d like one or two of the pieces, simple Email Susan@CreateArt4Good.org to make that happen!

Item 1a:  Book Necklace – Just Terrific $38

 

Artist Rachael Gootnick of Just Terrific

Item 1b: Handmade Journal with special papers- Belinda Brasley. 5.5″ x 8″$45

Hand bound Journal by Belinda Brasley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 1c: Hand-turned pen- James Duffy $26

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 1d: A candle to light while writing! Peace & Joy Candles $12

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 1e: A calendar to keep your deadlines organized! Artist Susan Carmen-Duffy- Each month has a different piece of art that relates to trees. (Multiple available) $15

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 1f: Jackie Baker of Artistic Threads hand printed this canvas bag. It is approximately 15″ x 14″ and is $12

Jackie Baker- Artistic Threads- hand printed canvas bag

 

 

 

checking in

When I began the process to form Create Art 4 Good over eight years ago, I had no idea where I would be standing today. As I write this, the snow is falling gently outside, the hum of the heat is clanking in the building I rent, and yet it is otherwise quiet. Most of the other humans who create in this building have yet to arrive. This moment feels so peaceful and so intoxicating I wanted to take a moment to notice it. 

When I quit my job in June to give all of my energy to this gallery, the artists I am honored to represent and the vision I have had in some form since I was seven years old, I had no clue how magnificent this would all be. For me, this is not about selling art. While that is a lovely byproduct of what I do here and also a rather necessary one, it is about the energy, the encouragement, and the beauty.

It is about a new artist thrilled that she got into a juried exhibition. It is about the look on her face that suggests dreams DO come true. 

It is about First Friday when the public makes their way through our studios, walking through doorways, appreciating art, enjoying conversations with the artists, and supporting their endeavors. 

It is about moments of creative facilitation, possibility, and joy. Watercolor on tables (and maybe hands), scraps of collage paper here and there and messy hands. It sounds silly, but it evokes such joy for me. 

It is about pushing through the dark moments of doubt to stay true to the path, the mission, and my heart. 

At this moment, I don’t think I could be more grateful. I am so incredibly excited about the next steps, the infinite possibilities and even the unknown. (this, by the way, is a HUGE accomplishment for me. I ALWAYS want to know what comes next, but I have learned that this process is not linear and that is okay- sometimes even great!)

This month has been all about gratitude for me, and for a few others who have decided to tag along. I wanted to thank you for your love, your support, every piece of art you have purchased here, every card, every encouraging word. 

I am off to begin the flip of the studio. In the next week, we shall go from a lovely small gallery to WOW, glittery and beautiful holiday boutique! 

See you soon?

Big huge love and gratitude, 

Susan

 

Gratitude.

So… today, if you listened to the news, you heard that there was yet another shooting. This comes the day after someone was arrested for sending pipe bombs to prominent political figures. As an artist that lives in Rochester, New York; a place where I don’t feel particularly powerful I don’t know how to fight this kind of horror. To purposely want to murder someone because of their political beliefs or their faith astounds me. 

I am a wife, a mother, an aunt, godmother, grandmother, sister, friend and well… you get the idea. I want to shield my loved ones from horror. Truth be told, I want to sort of live in a bubble and not attach to any of it as well.  Over a year ago, I consciously made the choice to stop listening to NPR. I honestly couldn’t take it. The horrors, the rhetoric, violence put me in a bad mood and kept me there most of the day. I couldn’t sleep at night. I HAD to let go for a while. 

A few months ago, I started listening again. You cannot make changes unless you understand what needs to change.  I wish to be an informed participant of our country. I wish to have a clue about what is going on in our world, even if it is hard to listen to.  I have tried to not let it take over my day, my ability to function, some days I find it more difficult than others. 

So today, listening to the fact that people gathered to worship and were gunned down, saddens me to the deepest level. I don’t know how to make it stop. As a person of faith, someone who believes in prayer, I pray. I pray for not only those close but also the country, our leaders, the world, peace….. well, you get the idea. But praying doesn’t seem to be enough. Today these people who were senselessly gunned down WERE PRAYING! They were bothering no one. They were murdered in one of the most vulnerable places one could be. 

I believe in the power of prayer. But I need to do more than that. It’s not enough. I believe in the power of knowledge. I am proud to say that I am an informed voter. Again, not enough. 

So here I sit, the world seems so dark and yet I have faith in the light. It would be easy to allow fear to take over, it’s human nature. It seems everywhere we turn there is another tragedy. 

Darkness will not drive our Darkness – only light will do that.  MLKing, Jr. 

I know I have written about it in the past,  today is no different. When it is the darkest dark, all I know to do is to take inventory of what is right in the world, in my life and celebrate it. If gratitude is the whispering light in the darkness and love defeats hate, then we need to gather together to fill the world with hope. I don’t know how to fight this hatred, this bigotry, and this complete discord. I only know that I have to love bigger, be more grateful, and be more proactive. 

This is where you come in… I invite you to join me. This month (November) we will explore gratitude. I promise if you dive in with me, you will see a new perspective. You will hopefully feel move love and more love. Each day you will receive a prompt. It is up to you what happens next. 
I hope you will join me. I hope you will find bountiful reasons to be grateful. I know that you will share your light. 

To join, just email me: Susan@CreateArt4Good.org – I will fix you right up. 

Until then- I am grateful for you! 

Blessings and love, 

Susan

October- Enlightenment

 

 

Life. The twists and turns that have inspired and kept me on the path have been nothing shy of incredible. I have taken chances I would have never believed, felt joys and successes that I only dreamt of. 

The path to the creation of my dream in Create Art 4 Good has been and continues to be a path of self-realization for me. You learn about yourself with the stresses and strains of a small business owner. You grow, you struggle, you blossom a bit. It is a journey I could have never anticipated but one I am incredibly grateful for. 

October 4th is the 5th anniversary of my first opening at the Hungerford. I am sure you have heard the story of how I got keys to my studio just about a week before, and even though I was working full time, I pulled off an opening (with buckets of help from my family) with seventeen artists represented. It was a proud and scary moment. The opening was wonderful, well received and feels like a million years ago. 

Now five years later, about sixty openings later so much has changed. In June I left my position of thirteen years to fully commit to this dream. I have changed studios, I have grown my business plan. I even have an official Create Art 4 Good checking account!  (hey,… it’s the little things) I want this opening to be a celebration. I want it to be a yes, it might have been more difficult at first, but I DO see the forest AND the trees. 

And I continue. 

To seek wisdom, beauty, and wonder. 

I continue 

To pay it forward, and to support my fellow human. 

I continue 

To hold creative opportunities and support art in the world. 

I continue 

to live this incredible dream.

Thank you for walking with me. 

with love and gratitude, 

Susan

 

it’s starting to be real…

In June I left my position of nearly thirteen years to live the little girl (and big girl) dream of being a “REAL” artist 24/7. I no longer have to divide my time or my energy with two full-time positions, but one. ONLY ONE. 

I could have never anticipated what happened next

First, I am well aware that life does not roll out like it does in the movies. The main character whom you have cherished during the previous 79 minutes of the film gets her dream after enduring and overcoming every possible obstacle. All the sentimentals in the theater get a heavy dose of dopamine as the credits roll and all is right in the world. What we don’t see is the main character’s struggle AFTER the credits roll. What we don’t understand is that even when dreams come true it does not guarantee success nor does it ignore the fact that it is usually a heck of a lot of work. 

AND…there is the fact that the entire game has changed. What you have done for decades you are no longer required to do. There is comfort in routine. There is comfort in having a backup to your dream plan. There is comfort in knowing that you have your fingers in several pies… 

So, all of that said, this is a very vulnerable time for me. I am trying to focus in spite of a few unexpected challenges. I am trying to build the new road and focus my energy.

Here’s the thing. This is scary stuff. The summer has been hot and humid. That encompassing overwhelming feeling you get on a really hot and humid day is sort of how my spirit has felt for these last two months. 

But today- I woke up, and I felt stronger. The air had that autumn crispness to it. I feel rested for the first time in months. I feel like I was able to make a difference in this day. I feel strong. I feel focused. 

The new normal isn’t always a linear path. Sometimes you have to dig around to find out where the road is and set with intent the destination. I have dreamt about a vocation as an artist since I was a very little girl. I have felt the joys and balance of my own spirituality and wonder every single time I have held a colored pencil or paintbrush. I believe that this step is vital in my pure authentic life.

Today I do not have to rely on my faith of this to feel the rightness of it. My footing is solid, my hopes feel like a plan and I am secure in the next step. 

Today, I am actually understanding that while the struggle was real (and might be again tomorrow or even this afternoon) the light for this path is on full strength. I am secure in the unknown, I am equipped to handle the path and I am joyfully accepting of the darkness. It is in that darkness where I have found the brightest of lights. 

The dream is real. There is a plan. There is a paintbrush,,,it awaits. 

I pray you find your dream- I pray you have the courage to live it 100%. 

with great big love and gratitude, 

Susan

the struggle is real but the faith is big!

Celebrating seven years

It doesn’t seem possible that I began Create Art 4 Good seven years ago. I know it didn’t happen over night, It was a lifetime of gathering tools and clarification before making the big jump. Little did I understand at the time that what I craved ultimately was the key to my success. I just wanted to be me- all of me, and move through the world with that. I was frustrated that I felt like I had so much to share but had no venue in which to do so. 

Create Art 4 Good was a path to authenticity. I think that embracing all of who we are ultimately serves us and others perfectly. 

So here we are. Seven years later! I suppose I not only am excited about all that has been accomplished, but I suppose I am embracing my “seven year itch” with leaving my full-time day position to dedicate all of my time to Create Art 4 Good. This is such a huge dream come true, I cannot even believe my life!

Below find a little video, celebrating the last seven years. I am grateful to you for your love and support. On to the next 7 years! 

big love and bigger blessings, 

Susan