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Happy National Piano Day!

My mom’s piano sits proudly in my livingroom
Today is National Piano day! I am celebrating for multiple reasons! (It’s the 88th day and there are 88 keys on the piano FYI) A little over two years ago I moved my studio/gallery from the Hungerford building to the Piano Works Mall in East Rochester. My time at Piano works has been a time of great growth and exploration!
 
ALSO, I actually own my mother’s piano. This was a love story between my parents. Dad surprised her one Christmas with “renting” the piano for a few months. She was a very well trained pianist who had long since lost any opportunity to play the piano. The piano was a surprise that certainly inspired much happiness in my mother’s life. I believe it was one of the most unselfish gifts he could have ever given to her. When it was time to return the piano, my father informed my mother that it was not going back. (They were not exactly swimming in money at the time so this was a big deal) My father saw the joy in my mother and wanted her to have it forever. Now I am learning (struggling) to play her piano. (I took guitar lessons, not the same, I assure you!) But it is because of their story I am so happy to celebrate today!
The piano is full of meaning for me. It is a symbol of love, it is a symbol of hope. It has a beautiful sound and inspires joy. The building where I work (where my mother’s piano was made by the way) has rich history and you can see some really fun pianos in the main lobby area – so take a moment, maybe 88 seconds? and celebrate this wonderful instrument. Celebrate because we can.
Sending you so much love! #Piano #Nationalpianoday #Daddywasonebigheart #loveyoumom

 

 

 

 

 

 

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a mixed media art retreat?

a mixed media art retreat?

Have you ever thought of attending an art “retreat”? For me, this means going somewhere for a few days, enjoying a change of scenery, take advantage of an opportunity for me to work on a ____ (fill in the blank) or perhaps participate in a workshop or two to learn something new. It means my basic needs are met – I have a place to sleep, good food (perhaps by a trained chef), and freedom to just breathe for a bit.
2022 seems to be the year of realizing some of those dreams that are swimming in my head a bit. This one has been steeping for quite some time.
I have done quite a bit of research, planned, and pondered. Now I want to gauge if there is any interest besides my own! I have created a quick survey- I would love it if you would take a moment to fill it out, feel free to share it with anyone you think might be interested!
Thank you in advance!

Here is the survey!

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The Four Seasons

I am sure many of you can appreciate the endless dreamings of, “ohhhh I want to do this” or that. We have notebooks, sketchpads, and lists of things we want to create. We have so many ideas we could live to be about a thousand and still not get it all done.
 
This piece is called, ” The Four Seasons”. It is inspired by Mucha’s “Four Seasons”. The seasons, the colors, and the symbolism of each have always fascinated me. I have pondered this piece for years and years. I cannot tell you how happy I am that I finally took some time to create it.
 
Time?! This took about 102 hours. It felt so great to invest myself fully and take the opportunity to create it!
 
Thank you for sharing this journey with me. My children (and the best cheerleaders in the universe) have already suggested a new piece for me to do. So I just might get that party started soonest!
 
I have taken it to my photographer/printer- and prints are on the way! (you can find them on greetings4good.org)
#fourseasons #greetings4good #CreateArt4Good
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The Best Decision

Next in the #MarchMeetTheMaker challenge is to share the best decision I ever made.

Well goodness! I can think of several! Create Art 4 Good is not my first business. It is, however, the business I have taken most seriously. The first thing I did was to write a business plan, set goals, and do everything I could to attain those goals.

My first big goal was to have a brick-and-mortar in five years of beginning my business. I had it in TWO! I would say, the business plan AND taking the leap to have a gallery space were two of the best business decisions I have ever made! #grateful #CreateArt4Good #greetings4good #artistlife

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Empowered Women Day

A sticker created by Susan Carmen-Duffy found on Greetings4Good.org

There are so many things I want to say about today. However, I am certain you are going to be inundated with others’ thoughts and ideas too,  I certainly don’t want to be “noise” I will do my best to keep this brief.  (I cannot promise)

Today, on the international stage, has been declared “Empowered Women’s day”.  While I am thrilled to celebrate this day, EVERY DAY should be empowered women’s day. But, I digress. Today is a day where I am hoping we step back and take a look at how we treat women. This goes for not just men, but also women. As a mother of one daughter (and two bonus daughters), and a grandmother of one granddaughter, this day is a reason for pause, to take stock, to certify that my actions are true of empowerment. 

First- words matter. What you say and how you say it really DOES make a difference. We are here to help each other be the best possible humans we can be. I have preached to my children to be the best they can be, no matter what path they may choose. Living your best life is not easy. The world can be so full of roadblocks. My job as the chief cheerleader is to help them navigate the roadblocks, or sometimes just to sit and listen while they do. Sometimes empowerment means to just sit and hold space. 

Think about this- what if you only had support for your ideas, for your dreams? Certainly, it is a journey and not every idea is going to bloom, but you will with certainty grow, learn what works and what does not. If you have support (and no judgment) the likelihood is we will celebrate the process instead of feeling shame about the lessons (aka failures).  

Next, leave your garbage in the trash bin. The world can be a challenging place. However, my experience is not yours and yours is not mine. While personal experience can bring wisdom, it shouldn’t bring roadblocks for others. I see this, particularly when speaking with my children and grandchild. It is vital for me to step back, perhaps guide a little but ultimately let them follow their heart without me dashing their thoughts. I might not agree with their choices, and some might even scare me a little, but ultimately, it is their choice. 

Perfection. This is the killer of all greatness in my opinion. As women we have these images in our heads that we have to have superpowers, be the ultimate —- fill in the blank along with a hundred other things. Certainly, I have learned that for me perfection is not attainable, and the seeking of which is ultimately setting myself up for failure. Today, my best might look very different from tomorrow. The goal here is not perfection, but to do the best and most invested you can be at this very moment. If you fail? Change the path a smidgen and try again, but perfection is not a worthy goal, authenticity is. 

Lastly, your success does not diminish me. “A rising tide lifts all boats.”- Celebrating each other, our success, supporting each other through the difficult times serves everyone. EVERYONE!  

So today. take a minute to ponder how your actions and words to empower other women. You have the opportunity to take stock and grow a little. You have the opportunity to send someone a text, remind them why they are doing so great. You have the opportunity to write a note of encouragement and slip it onto a co-worker’s desk. You have the opportunity to pay it forward even in the smallest of ways. YOU have the power to make a difference. So go do it. 

A rising tide lifts ALL boats. 

Sending you so much love, 

Susan

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A few of my favorite things!

I LOVE daisies, sharp Derwent Art colored pencils, microns with 005 tips, walking in the rain, water in general (lake, ocean, whatever!), tea, @goldenpaints, soup (it is the perfect food), mixed media art, fancy glasses (even if I am drinking lemonade out of them), cooking for people, and all things family.

What are your favorite things?

#marchmeetthemaker #favoritethings #sharethelove

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Brand Values

In the #MeettheMakerChallenge- next up is Brand Values. When forming Create Art 4 Good, I worked really hard at defining what this was all meant to be. For me going into business was an opportunity. It was an opportunity to not only create art, and support the art of others, but it was also a way to be aware of the world around me and use my talents for good. I give a portion of every single sale to a local charity. It doesn’t matter if it is a greeting card from my card business – Greetings 4 Good, or a large painting, each piece I have created is used to pay it forward. 

Toward that end, I created “the thoughtfulness project”. It is a project that seeks to pay it forward, give back, and create joy. It is a project that can be as simple as paying for someone’s coffee, dropping off hundreds of cards to a nursing home, or sending something to a stranger in need. Last year (2021) I sent literally thousands of cards, through the mail, dropped off, or otherwise. Most were sent to 97% strangers. The whole idea is to SHARE THE LOVE!

The best of what we are can be joyfully shared with others to support and celebrate! Life can be hard, but we as humans who care can make a difference. That is just what I seek to do. 

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Meet the Maker- Susan Carmen-Duffy

Meet the Maker- Hello, new friends and old. I am Susan Carmen-Duffy. I wear many hats in the almost twelve-year-old business known as Create Art 4 Good. While I am a “one-woman business”, I have so much love and support. So, if I am shipping art or cards, designing a new card, painting a new painting, Create Art 4 Good is my heart business. It is a way for me to pay it forward, put new art into the world, and live my big dreams. I am grateful! My studio is at the Piano Works Mall in East Rochester, New York. My art is colorful, whimsical, and full of love! I look forward to sharing more of the journey with you! #marchmeethemaker #CreateArt4Good #greetings4good #meetthemaker2022challenge

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February is for love! (EVERY DAY is for love)

I personally LOVE February- (not for the snow in upstate New York, I assure you.) I love it for the love. It’s Valentine’s day, it’s hearts everywhere, and NOONE gives me any grief about painting hearts all day long. Painting hearts seems to be one of those carefree mixed media fun things I so enjoy. I enjoy it on such a pure and sweet level. (when I am not self-editing)

But it goes deeper than that. I see my art as an opportunity, as a meditation, as a way to put an intention out into the world. While the shape of a heart might be an obvious symbol of love, the intention goes far beyond that. This is a motivation behind my card company Greetings 4 Good.  

Greeting cards can show love every single day of the year. Greetings 4 Good seems to be one of the ways I can do this. I make art, I photograph it, pop it into my creative suite, send it to the printers and voila! Cards! Some of my earliest and happiest memories have to do with cards. Making them, receiving them, seeing the variety, how people sign them- I noticed (and still do) all of the details. While it may just be a piece of card stock, for me it is a symbol of love. 

I am not sure why I woke up on a fourteen-degree morning to share all this with you- but I did. Today, I think I am feeling the gravity of the two-year pandemic. I feel the weight of not being able to see people, I feel the weight of separation, isolation, and concern. When an unexpected piece of “happy mail” (happy mail = unexpected mail that is not related to bills or other adult things) shows up in my mailbox I feel valued, loved, and thought of. It’s a good thing. 

So… send the card- the note, the postcard- whatever! Share the love! It matters. 

love you…

Susan

 

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Happy New Year!

It has taken me a day or two to catch up with the fact that the new year has presented itself. A brand new, shiny, clean new year.  In the past, I have always looked at the new year as a fresh slate. This year, circumstances don’t necessarily present that optimism as clearly for me.

It is also a time of reflection on the year past. From what I observe online, many are suggesting that 2021 was a horrific year. I agree, it certainly had its challenges. I am discouraged that it is so easy to discard an entire year as horrific. 

Before you get defensive, I know there has been great loss. I know that we are tired. I know that the world is STILL in a global pandemic. I know that our lives have changed in order to manage that pandemic. I know. I know that likely every single one of you reading this knows someone who is suffering from covid, cancer, or some other horrible affliction. I am keenly aware that the challenges are great. I might even suggest that I am pretty aware of the same. 

Yet. I cannot dismiss three hundred and sixty-five days as all bad. When I reflect upon the past year, I see the personal growth I have worked towards. I see my children blooming in their relationships, their careers, and their humanity. I see my business changing and growing. I see many positive things happening. I see good deeds, good people, generosity of souls, kindness, and caring.

I won’t pretend that I ignore the darkness. There has been so much loss, so much illness, not just Covid, but cancer, and other scary things. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by the darkness. But these are the times I actively seek the light. I try to do my best to ramp up the courage and a healthy dose of hope. 

As I said, I take time each new year to reflect. Reflect on accomplishments, on lessons learned, on growth, on the joys, on… well many things. I think it would be easy for me to see only the darkness if I didn’t consciously seek gratitude for all of the good, for the joys, for the kindnesses. I saw something recently where someone suggested that we don’t have bad days, we have bad moments. Rarely is every single minute of a day horrible.  This offered an interesting perspective that I try to adhere to. 

The year presented us with some really horrible things. I know that many are weary. Many have faced giant mountains. I only seek to suggest that we see how many of those mountains have been conquered. How many moments of joy have stitched us together. How many blessings have we received? 

So… seek the light, my friends- it is not that we won’t have challenges this year, but I believe that we can meet those challenges more successfully if we focus on the light, even if it is a sliver of light in the darkest darkness. 

Happy New Year- sending you so much love, 

Susan