It’s been quite a week.

So today is special, for so many reasons! First, it’s February 29th! (How often does that happen? – HINT: not very often) Also, it is the anniversary of Sharon & Tim (my sister and brother- original to Duffy- be sure to wish them a Happy Anniversary! The actual day doesn’t happen often MAYBE every four years except for when someone with a magic wand somewhere randomly decides we shouldn’t have one.) ALSO, (thus the reason for this post) it is the first open house for the Central Creative(s) @ The Piano Works Mall!

Why is that blog-worthy you ask? Well! Let me just tell you! 2020 has been a heck of a year so far. It is almost like I needed a new year to boldly go where I have not been brave enough to go before.

Farewell studio #203, Gratitude to the Hungerford for helping me realize my big crazy dreams!

That said, this week I moved out of my art home of nearly eight years. I found that process to be completely overwhelming and weighty. (Not just the boxes were heavy!) Even though I have not doubted the decision to move to a new studio, it was incredibly hard to leave the place that I see as giving me wings. Having a gallery, supporting other artists, the community and more has been a dream that was realized at the Hungerford. Taking this next step was HUGE for me. 

The grace about knowing the decision was the right one is that once the major stuff was done, (the big move, the continued move, eating dinner at midnight because you worked sixteen hours that day, cleaning the carpets, painting the walls, painting the walls AGAIN, unpacking, reorganizing, and well… the list goes on.) is that you wake up full of joyful anticipation on the day of your open house, which happens to be TODAY! (Please note FIVE DAYS after I moved the big stuff out of the Hungerford I am participating in an open house at the new studio. I know, I know that doesn’t make me a hero or anything, just REALLY tired, but I digress)

SO, people! Today is the day. My fellow creatives have been busy in their own studios and in our common spaces. We have taken the vision Brandi Marino had a few months ago and nurtured the seed to a new beginning. We have all sorts of mediums and genres represented. We have beautiful art on the walls, studios at the beginning of wonderful workspaces and hope for a new level of opportunity as well as personal and collective success. Central Creative(s) at the Piano Works Mall is definitely a work in progress, a beautiful work at that. 

Come through this door to the left of the golf shop, it will lead you to stairs/elevator to the second floor where you will find the Central Creative(s)!

So come visit. Make this a stop for your Saturday. The creatives have gathered and will be open from 5-8 pm. Join us to celebrate this momentous day! The 29th doesn’t happen that often!

See you soon! 
Much love and gratitude!

Susan

 

You make a difference…

As I prepare to move my studio from the Hungerford building to Piano Works mall into the Central Creative(s) Collective, I believe I have gone through some sort of mourning period. Abhorrent to the idea of that level of drama, I have perhaps been a little unkind to myself as I work through this transition. I have believed from the beginning that this was the right decision, perhaps not the easy one.

I love the Hungerford. I love my funky space, tall exposed ceilings, big windows, old wooden floors. I appreciate that at any given time when I am there creating art, no doubt there are countless other artists at work doing what they love too.  I love that the space is finally getting close to the vision I had swimming in my head. Sheers on the windows, professional signage, interesting opportunities for sharing work, a hanging system, card racks on the wall and floor.  It’s always a work in progress, but I was getting there.

Moving into the Hungerford nearly eight years ago, was my dream come true. I finally had a gallery space, creative space that I could really live my mission in. Since then I have hung a new exhibit almost every month for nearly eight years, I have hosted countless workshops, social activities, as well as socially conscious activities. I have paid it forward. I have had the opportunity to create and celebrate there. It has been almost like a best friend. Always there, always waiting. 

All of that said, for me, this space has been very important. I have grown so much as a human there. My mission has been lived and deepened. Opportunities bloomed there not only for me but for others. Making the decision to leave there seemed preposterous!

But it’s time. 

These last few weeks as I have worked through my own feelings about the upcoming move I chided myself for being silly. The new space is an incredible opportunity. The new collective will help me to take my business to a new place. (literally and metaphorically) But I felt like I was processing this like a loss. In a way, I suppose I was. 

Last night, a dear friend visited the (second) opening for the current exhibit. We spoke about many topics, not the least of which was reminiscing about the last 7 years of exhibits for West Irondequoit Schools. It was wonderful to hear another’s perspective. I felt great pride in her gratitude. 

Then she looked at me with a tear welling up in her beautiful eyes and said, “I didn’t realize how much this space meant to me until you said you were leaving it.” 

WOW

Those words were so powerful to me. I have always believed that I should follow my heart, I should do what I think is right regardless of the financial or personal gain. Create Art 4 Good is just exactly that for me. The opportunity to create art, pay it forward, get more beauty into the world. 

Then she said, ” You have made a difference in so many lives.”

WOW, again. 

I needed to hear that. Mission accomplished, I suppose. That is all any of us really wants to do, right? Be a force for something good, for positivity, for love and make some sort of a difference. 

I think what I didn’t want was to leave the Hungerford in any sort of negativity. It isn’t like quitting a bad job, it is more that I am ready for the next step and this move will help support that. The Hungerford, my spaces there, have been a true dream come true. I shall be forever grateful. But the dream has grown or changed. It is time to take the risk and move forward. 

Thank you, dearest Lu, for saying all the right things last night. For caring, for sharing in my joy at the Hungerford. Thank you, for making a difference. 

with love and gratitude. 

Susan

 

an inspiring visit to the Memorial Art Gallery

The Alphonse Mucha exhibit at the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, NY had been up for months, and of course, despite my best intentions, I managed to slide in to see this exhibit just as it was closing. I was SO inspired by this work. Here are a few of my thoughts.

Alphonse Mucha was an Art Nouveau Illustrator. He was Czech. He worked in the late 1800s into the early 1900s. His work was very stylized and in my opinion, had hidden treasures inside each illustration. One of the things I loved most was seeing a black line illustration before it was colored in and then seeing the colored version. You could see the details. It was magical. 

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 These are some of my favorite works by him. 

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Sarah Bernhardt was very represented in this exhibit. There were tons of pieces, sketches etc. They were essentially the playbills or advertisements, but that was funny to me, as they were magnificent! Very flamboyant – 
 
This one made me giggle as it is an ad for a bicycle. The bike seems to be the least of it. But I thought it was spectacular! Duffy (my husband) is so obsessed with bikes – I was obviously drawn to it. 
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He did a lot with biblical stuff –  the seasons, the constellations, even the calendar. I loved it. I have been wanting to do more with saints, the sun and the moon.. stuff like that. I was very inspired by what I saw. 
 
These are the images for a calendar. I love creating my calendar each year! These images are magical! They are so fun. and certainly, kick things up a notch. 
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It is hard to see, but this is a piece of jewelry. I actually create original pendants using original tiny watercolor paintings. I was dazzled by this piece. It was so amazing. It made me want to take what I do and kick it up a big honking notch. 

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I loved these for the way the images were displayed, the mats …. oh goodness! I was giddy! The fact that these mats had to be hand cut- the impressive nature of the pieces as well as the attention to detail thrilled me.
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Again, the image, the mat, the way it was all put together. I loved it. 
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This changed the ballgame when I think about what I want to use for my books for dividers and chapter titles and all of that. 
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I love the detail in these. For me, anything can be beautiful. even a fork!
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I LOVE this. You see the same piece in three different ways. This is where you see the details. I sat on a bench and studied it for several minutes. LOVE this so much. 
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As someone who doesn’t do much in the way of pre-sketching my images, I LOVED this. It had his handwriting and ideas – I loved it so much. (I am using “love” a great deal, but truly, this experience was dazzling!)
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I won’t blather on further- but this is one of several like this. You can see that it had to be printed on multiple sheets, because in the day – they didn’t have the ability to do so continuously. I would say this is at least 5′ tall- but so magnificent! I loved them. 
 
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So… there you are. I could go on and on, but I am incredibly inspired and suspect this will inform some of my 2020 work. 
 
My advice to you? GO see art. In galleries, antique shops, your neighbor’s studio. Get out. go see different work. It is good for you! A breath of fresh air!
Thanks for listening, 
Susan

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