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I would like to invite you to support my newest project – Holiday Mail for Heroes.

With any purchase made through Create Art 4 Good from now until December 3rd- this card, especially designed for our military will be sent to a soldier for the holidays.

Thank you as always for ♥ sharing the love! ♥

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The art of…the journey

The art of… the journey.

A closeup of a leaf on a tree that is changing from green to red as it is autumn.

August began a most wonderful journey for me. I say wonderful, and I truly mean wonderful, but I do not mean always “happy”.

Like any journey, there have been a few overwhelming moments on this path to “Create Art 4 Good” and yes, you guessed it. I am grateful for them.

You see, if this road were easy or without challenge, well, then one might question my conviction. While this journey seems incredibly directed and progressive, it is certainly NOT moving as fast as I would like it to, (note to self, patience is a virtue!) and there have been a few glitches here and there.

Regardless, or maybe BECAUSE of this I KNOW I am on the right path.

For years, I have pondered how I can use my art to make a difference in the world. I have never been the artist who sought fame or even fortune; more desirable to me has been a meaningful way to use my talents for good. I have worn the typical artist hats -displaying my work in galleries, weathering numerous art shows, and even had the honor of teaching the wonder of Art. Art has tremendous power for me and it is clear to me that art should have a strong presence in my future.

Evident to me was that I must listen to the experience from MY journey. I had to know what MY success was, and not attempt to give in and pigeon hole myself into the societal view of success.

After months of preparations, business plans, research, advice from experts, more research and re-writing the business plan I launched Create Art 4 Good- I was energized that what I was doing was the key in the door to my future. It answered all the questions that had been swimming in my head for decades.

I am amazed at this. Each day I wake up and I KNOW what I am supposed to do next. I don’t always know WHY at that very moment… but typically the reason becomes fairly clear quickly. I suppose that is where faith enters the picture. Without faith the more difficult days would be too dark, the potholes might swallow me up and the joy of the journey might not be as rich.

Faith gives me the ability to trust the journey and while I certainly have an end goal, I have no real clue where I will wind up. The blessings I have witnessed as a result of this fairly new adventure (if you don’t count the thirty plus years of preparations) have been countless. Artists who have been worn by their own professional journey have found new motivation to create, strangers have contacted me to ask how they can be a part of this, positive efforts have flourished, and there have been countless unexpected surprises along the way.

I am so very blessed.

My point? Trust your journey. in this amazing process of doing what I NEEDED to do, I have found that my process has affected the journey of others in ways I could have never anticipated. It seems very simple – You will find the answer if you listen carefully… put good out in the world, you will get it back tenfold.

I pray you are enjoying your journey- I am so blessed by this life and mine

In peace-
Susan

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The art of…. thirty days

the art of … thirty days.

It’s November- for many autumn is a disheartening time, the sun does not warm us as much as in July, it’s riddled with work that needs to happen, winterizing our homes, the holidays are approaching quickly…. it’s the ramp up for another part of the endless hamster wheel.

I don’t really feel the above sentiment- I actually come alive in “sweater weather”, trees blooming rich color, the crisp in the air with the sweet smell of apples on the counter and soup simmering on the stove. I don’t love the heat, but I do love crisp chill, not cold – but a little chilly, my husband teases me that it is because I have my own internal furnace. For autumn, like so many things, I am grateful.

I know, I know, it’s a constant theme for me to share with you about gratitude. (my mother would be so proud) But here’s the thing, we cannot just randomly be grateful, it should be a clear and conscious decision, just like brushing your teeth. It should be an act daily.

Gratitude gives perspective; it reminds us what we have instead of what we wish for. Gratitude toward another human is an inspiring gesture to confirm in them that they are doing the right thing, and you are showing them what a gift they are. Gratitude opens the door on a dark room when everything feels hopeless. Suddenly we have the tools to realize how much we have and perhaps things seem less ominous.

It is said that it takes less than two weeks to create a habit- here’s my challenge to you. November is typically a month we dedicate to gratitude. We have a national holiday that honors that simple act. Even though we are already one week into November- there are thirty opportunities to be grateful this month. You still have twenty-four left. I dare you to go ahead and fill up the remaining days with your gratitude. Find at least one reason each day for the next twenty-four days to be grateful. Maybe it’s a person, or your home, or your job. Clearly we see others who don’t have the blessings we do.

Create a habit of gratitude. See what happens.Write it down, post it on the refrigerator, mention it at dinner to your family, journal it- somehow record what you are grateful for. Be bold, let those around you know you are grateful for them- it will do you both good.

So please, accept my challenge. I will check in with you on the thirtieth, I would love to hear what your experiences have been. Will it really change anything? You tell me.

In peace, and gratitude
Susan

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The Art of … the photograph.

The art of …the photograph.

I don’t think I need to even utter a word about my obvious addiction to the art of photography. I am completely enthralled with not only the result, but certainly the process. My very first camera was a Kodak “Brownie”, if I am not mistaken, my Great Uncle Harve gave it to me. It was magical I was quite certain of that and the results were thrilling. I have had many cameras since then, each created their own treasures, each sustained memories, history and pure entertainment. I have thoroughly enjoyed black and white photography and took classes in both high school and college. An enlarger sits in my basement waiting for the darkroom I keep promising myself.

It’s fascinating my journey with photography. I remember when I first became a professional artist and the question was posed to me ” Do you think photography is REAL art?” I didn’t respond right away. I thought about it for a moment, wondering how I really felt about it. I admit my ignorance. While I had seen artistic photographs, I felt there were “too instant” to be real art. Still peer pressure seemed to win and I hesitantly agreed.

Through the years I have become more and more addicted to this (yes, oh yes it is!) fine art. Photographs tell a story in such a unique way. Fifteen people could take the same photograph and it would give you a unique view every single time. I have gotten to the point where I literally always have a camera with me. If I do not for some reason, I always regret it.

Cell phones! Once could say that everyone has a camera with them at all times (as according to an article on Ars Technica) 91% of America’s population uses a cell phone. (I am betting the 9% remaining are still in diapers) If you have a cell phone, you have a camera. Honestly? I think this is sort of sad. It seems the accessibility is sort of butchering the art of making a photograph. The instant gratification of recording a moment to post on facebook as opposed to the opportunity to think about angle, lighting, shutter speed and, well you get the idea.

There is something nearly ceremonial about taking a photograph, processing the film and then printing it. YOU are in control of the process, developing a photograph feels like Christmas to me. It’s a thrill to watch the image float to my eyes through the developing fluids. It’s exciting to get the timing just right, the exposure perfect- the angle of interest… it’s an art.

The other aspect- is very significant as well- some would say more so. Photographs are the record of our history. My Uncle Harve gave me a tremendous gift. Photographs put a face with a story, they reveal much about the content of life and give us a connection. Personally I DETEST having my picture taken, but honestly? I have tried to change that… because pictures, photographs give me the treasure of the past and the smile of the future. Simply said, if I did not have the photography below, my beautiful granddaughter might never know that my mother loved her as deeply as she did.


(I miss you, Mom)

So get in front of the camera and behind it. JUST take pictures- however you need to- use your cell phone, a great camera, black and white film- whatever! Make photographs- make art- make connections. These are the real treasures, more than gold that will last a lifetime.

In peace-
Susan

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The art of…. a kind word.

The art of… a kind word.

A lone duck swimming in a lake.
all alone…

It’s simple, right? We stumble through life just trying to get to the next step effectively. We work, we play, we think, breathe, eat and sleep. This is life, come what may.

You and I both know that life is anything but simple. In fact simple seems to be actually something we try to attain. I believe changing your world view has something to do with it. I seem to be clearly on this general “kick” of gratitude and of consciousness. It is vital to me to not only notice the flowers planted along my journey but to appreciate them. I admit there are some whirlwind days that I hardly notice even the most precious gifts, fortunately evening comes, I have the opportunity to rest and then I am able to rise with a new perspective.

My message today… you are NOT alone. You aren’t, I’m not… None of us are. That message came ringing loudly to me this morning. Let me explain.

This morning, I came into work with a full agenda. Every single moment counts today! It does every day, but I rarely pack in every moment of the day. Well today is THAT day. Every moment is dedicated to work, health and taking care of my family. Needless to say I was overwhelmed before getting out of bed at five-something this morning.

The early morning went well – I was able to get some work done, some cleaning and even a bit of laundry! My son got up a bit late- which started to ramp up the stress level for me. Upon our arrival at work I decided I was not being as effective with my time as I could. You know, when you start to beat yourself up for not being able to clone yourself and do about 56 things at once? I actually had one of those, and then came the ohhhhh I just want to paint today, moment.

So you feel it right? STRESS City! Yearning for something else, a little panicky about my schedule…

THEN the most amazing thing happened….

A friend who I rarely get to see, passed me in the hall ( I was taking photographs for a project at work) and said to me,

       

“SUSAN! Did you see that I re-posted part of your blog?” (on facebook)

I admitted that I had not, and smiled, and thanked her (I was thrilled!)- I was truly excited that she felt the words were important. Then as she passed she said-

“Thank you, I really needed that.”

I was stunned. STUNNED!

Guess what? I really needed THAT. The whole goal, I believe is to take care of each other. That moment, seemed rather mutual. I felt affirmed, positive and good about stringing a few words together. The words she posted were those of St. Theresa. They came ringing true once again for me.

“May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be.”

It’s the simple things – I promise you! Her words washed over me like a brilliant sunrise. Suddenly I felt the blessing of truly being conscious in my journey and trying to be faithful to my dreams.

To my friend.. I am grateful, I am willing to bet she has no idea what her kind words meant to me but I will make certain that her kind word is returned ten fold.

Thank you- Barb…

In peace,
Susan

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The art of…. being me.

The art of … being me.

One pink flower in a field of white daises.

Please take note… one pink snarky flower in a field of daisies….

Okay, now before you get all crazy on me, I am not suggesting in any way that I am worthy of being held to some amazing artistic standard. I am a human, plain and simple. However, I will admit to you that I haven’t always been terribly fond of myself. In fact I have struggled to “fit in” for most of my life. (or fade in nicely as part of the wall) I wanted to be normal … or something else I probably had no way of being. Yep, that’s me, the pink odd flower in the field of sweet, pure daisies.

This past year, I turned fifty, it wasn’t magical nor did I wake up on a Saturday morning feeling somehow transformed, but I believe a lifetime of introspection and effort has brought me to a place of acceptance. There seems to be some sort of wisdom that comes with fiftyish. I think it’s been a long process, a journey – one that isn’t likely to end any time soon either. Which at this stage of the game- I actually think is a good thing. (go figure)

One of the things I have beaten myself up about the most is I am not perfect. (don’t laugh!) I wanted to be the perfect wife, the perfect mother, the perfect child… you get the idea. I thought that would make me the most lovable. I held myself to impossible standards and when I failed, which seemed to be all too often, it felt like the end of the world.

Luckily for all of us, I have grown. I know that the only real perfection has nothing to do with me. Perhaps it is the idea of intentional gratitude, the work on not only accepting but embracing my imperfections and the attempt to grow as a human being that has brought me to a place of knowing that this is exactly where I am supposed to be.

It’s exciting really. One day I was speaking with a close friend. She was in a similar place, beating herself up for not being Mom of the year. Without really thinking about it I looked at her and said, “maybe you were as perfect as you could possibly be for that time, with the place you were and with the tools you had. ” Tears filled both of our eyes – it really was a revelation- Often it seems that we gain wisdom later in life about a situation we didn’t handle to the highest of standards, but isn’t that called experience? Once we gain a little, we seem to handle things differently. We learn from our experiences, we grow…

Saint Theresa was a wise woman…
I am especially fond of Saint Theresa’s prayer-
“May today there be peace within.
May you trust that you are EXACTLY where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others.
May you use the gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content with yourself just the way you are.
Let this knowledge settle in your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
it is there for each and every one of us.”

This prayer sits inside my computer cupboard.

An image of a piece of paper with a prayer to St. Theresa

I look at it every day as I work, e-mail, create

So I dare you… enjoy the art of being you… sing, dance, praise and love the best way YOU know how.

In peace-
Susan

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The Art of … play

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.
Pablo Picasso

a little bit of something from this week’s art night…
Oh I know, I have been all up in your face about getting work done and being the very best that you can be exactly where you are. I am certain you are asking yourself, so what is she talking about? Taking time to play!?

May I ask you what fun is life without time to play?

There is a reason we have weekends, vacations, hobbies. There is a reason we veg out in front of a movie or our favorite television show.

There’s a reason.

WE NEED TO PLAY (notice the all caps- sometimes we seem to need a billboard to remind us what is important)

Picasso suggests that art is pure even easy for children. They have no quandaries with making a tree purple or maybe even polka dot kittens. Perhaps remembering to play, remembering that sort of innocence assists our spirits, even bolder it might inspire the purity of our souls. I suggest that it washes the dirt of life off of our souls and allows us to refocus on what is important.

Art Night-

I have an electronic calendar. (A sign of the times!) On my weekly “docket” is a standing play date (some days it works out better than others as sometimes real life gets in the way) Each Wednesday evening I have created an annual event- “Art Night”. The details of this event are merely “get thee to the studio!” I try (note the word TRY) to approach the evening with no expectations, with just the spirit of a child. As a professional artist it is sometimes difficult to let go and just play. I feel like I am supposed to be constantly in research for the next step. However it is often in these decadent creative moments I find my greatest joy. I suppose for me it is a combination of a mid-week vacation, a sanity check along with a healthy side of a creative outlet. As you might imagine I am not often gifted with a gratuitous amount of time for artistic explorations, yet they are as life giving to me as the air we need to breathe.

I invite you to play!

Playing can be anything- it’s personal to you. Go see a movie and really be present in the movie, turn off your cell phone, take in the screen, the sounds and even the smell of the popcorn. Take a mental break! If that doesn’t appeal to you- take a hike, see something new, feel the air, experience the physical rush and breathe in the moment. Finger-paint with your child, fly a kite, or even make a sandcastle. There are countless ways to take a moment, to play- it’s as personal as your shoe size, find your own glass slipper.

It’s not easy in our hectic lives to find time to play. Most of us sleep too little, and enjoy too little downtime. I will suggest that it is as vital as air that you do so. Just as art enhances life, so does the opportunity to play.
Now get out there and do something fun! Yes, that’s an order!

In Peace-
Susan

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The art of… Monday morning…

The Art of ….Monday morning…

A closeup of a yellow mum flowerGood morning… it seems to me that Mondays are the day we look forward to least.(okay, maybe tax day is worse) Why have we given Monday such a bad rap? For the large part of the population Monday mean the return to work after having perhaps two days off. Two days to do what we want, catch up on that things to do list and perhaps enjoy family time, a social engagement or some other fun. Usually mid-day on Sunday many of us begin to whine ,”I don’t WANT to go back to work, tomorrow.” It seems to be that we resist the order of things, the obligation, or perhaps we just don’t love our job.

Well…I have drawn one conclusion- it’s MY fault, if I don’t like Mondays.

Work seems to be more than a pay check. If it were just one of those necessary evils, I am going to suggest we wouldn’t be nearly as effective as humans. I know, money is a strong motivator. Being able to feed your family, drive a car and have a roof over your head is pretty much a need. I understand. HOWEVER, regardless of what you do it is up to YOU to do it well and bring the best to the table with it.

Let me explain… I have no illusions that each of us loves our jobs. There have been times in my life that I have held positions that were less than inspiring to me. I have told my husband countless times that “I just want to do art”. (hear SPOILED BRAT) However, I believe that every Monday (and the rest of the days of the week) will be made much better by MY attitude.

Bring negative, get negative back… it’s simple- what you put in, is what you are going to get back

It’s really about that whole gratitude thing again. I am GRATEFUL to have a job. I am able to provide health care for my family, I believe that on some level I do make a difference and well, I am grateful because especially these days not everyone can say that enjoy that comfort. So right from the beginning, I am more blessed than many can say.

So that said, if I am able to approach my job or really anything with gratitude instead of dread, chances are I will be much happier regardless of the job I drive to every weekday morning. I am not suggesting that if we are grateful, fairies fly around our heads and rainbows shadow every office wall, I am merely suggesting that if I approach my work, my world with a positive attitude, remember to be grateful for what I have it changes the dynamic, it gives me the ability to see things in a new light and perhaps it even helps me work through the frustrations.

So… happy Monday- I hope that somehow your new Monday morning attitude is positive- (attitude of gratitude!) have a great day!

In Peace-
Susan

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The art of… being real.

The Art of.. being real.

A stone angel holding some flowers.

I am pretty sure this post is going to be a brief one. It’s been the usual insanity – I have been working hard all weekend on Create Art 4 Good… I feel good about my work, and yes maybe a little discouraged that things aren’t moving fast enough- or maybe I am just tired but in general, I feel good. I think what I want to write about, what I really need to say is that it’s okay, no, better than okay, it is vital that we are not only grateful for what we have, it is right to be vulnerable… to be real.

I think we let things get in our way sometimes. Our priorities get messed up, we lose sight.

I had an extremely frustrating day. I felt like I was spinning my wheels, a vendor let me down AGAIN and it hit me harder than usual. I was depending on the product being delivered , went out of my way to get it and when it did not happen- it rocked me. Again, I KNOW I am tired- but it shouldn’t have gotten to me the way it did.

Unfortunately it made me question my goals. I began to wonder if all of this is too hard. I am working full time, trying to start a business and still manage to be a loving engaged family member… today felt like all that blew up. I licked my wounds all day, letting doubt seep in, allowing worry to weaken my faith in this process instead of remaining solvent.

I lived my day today running errands, a family party, general insanity- I felt this sort of cloud over me all day. Hectic… just like every day.

When I got home tonight, I had an email- one that jolted me back into reality.

There’s a deadline tomorrow for a major project I am working on. The email is from someone who needs to submit some things for that project. She wrote me because she is upset, her submission will be late.

Doesn’t sounds like a big deal, does it? It is. This woman is worried about a submission to me (who by now is feeling self centered and spoiled) and she is upset because she is going to miss a deadline….

because she is fighting for her life.

I will respect her privacy- but essentially she is undergoing treatment and has been dealing with an infection. She has a fairly high fever and has been in and out of the hospital. What is she worried about? NOT herself, not her health… but the fact that she might miss my deadline.

Once I read this.. honestly nothing else mattered. I felt like God’s hand came down from heaven, smacked me in the head and reminded me of what is important. oh and just in case you were wondering? The vendor that messed up AGAIN today wasn’t important enough to cloud my entire day. It wasn’t worthy of that priority. Maybe it was merely in place to teach me something… or maybe it just was what it was. Either way… I allowed it too much of my energy. I suddenly feel vulnerable, human… and back in touch. It isn’t about stuff. It isn’t about deadlines.

After reading this e-mail, I felt like everything was stripped away as far as the “fluff” of my life and I am back on track.

So again.. the little stuff doesn’t matter- burnt toast, stupid vendors or your cat’s hair balls.

People matter. Honor matters, good intent… matters.
Keep it real

In Peace- (with prayers for my friend)