Today the rain is falling steadily in Rochester, New York. Today, I love the rain, it is cleansing and can be so beautiful. The fresh scent fills me. It nourishes the earth- which seems especially important these days.
Spring has arrived. Those beautiful yellow-greens are popping up everywhere I look. Grass, trees, plants, they all seem to have the courage of spring.
This season feels more hopeful to me than any others have in quite some time. The path might not be linear but, I seem to have made peace with the “new normal”. I am diligently trying to function, grow, and even bloom. I am doing the work, both personally and professionally. It is not always pretty, I assure you, (have I shared about the painting I started about a month ago that now has about 37 layers of paint on it with seemingly no success?!) *insert frustrated face here*
One of the things I am working on is my greeting card website. (Greetings 4 Good) I am sure you have heard the story no less than a thousand times.
The motivation to begin a greeting card company began decades ago. (truth be told, it was about half a century ago!) It is funny how life sometimes brings you full circle. Since I was a young child, creating cards has been a “thing”. I remember being quite young and visiting my great-grandmother. She was gravely ill. I was convinced that making cards would heal her. While the idea might be slightly naive, I do believe there was validity in the intent. I made her several cards, some from folded paper, some from leftover Christmas cards, each was filled with great love. Each made that sweet woman’s lips part in a quiet smile.
For me, greeting cards are about thoughtful intent. It is about sharing my art and my heart. It is about creating connections. Celebrating victories, mourning losses, reaching out to those who might be alone (or just lonely), saying your sorry when you have been wrong; it is about reaching out (even and especially during a pandemic) to share your love. Greetings 4 Good is not just a way to share my work, it is about sharing my love. (and encouraging you to do the very same!)
I believe that my business life just finally caught up with my heart.
So today, I just wanted to check on you, while I spend the day working on my big dream! (I am up to eight pages of products!) I hope you are feeling warmth and of course, loved. I hope you feel your life is also full of the courage of spring. It might just be time to bloom my friends…
My mother passed away in January of 2010, I honestly wasn’t sure what to do with myself at that time. Losing your mother is so profound. You are with her for longer than anyone else in your life. I needed a place to put my energy. I needed a way to take all the lessons I have learned in my life and make them count.
Create Art 4 Good was born.
This isn’t my first business, but I suspect it is my forever business.
I have spent a great deal of time in reflection of this business- Here is a graphic created to share some of what has happened in the last ten years.
It’s hard to believe, but this month marks ten years as the owner, artist, cheerleader, floor mopper at Create Art 4 Good. It honestly doesn’t feel that long, but indeed- here we are.
As you may have noticed in the past, I have much to say.
But I am not going to say it all right now- All I mean to say today is how grateful I am for you. Many of you have been with me since before this began. You have held my hand through the doubts, given me light when it was dark and supported me every way you knew how.
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.
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.
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!
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.”
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.”
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.
As I write this the “Uncle clock” (a small grandfather clock that hangs on our dining room wall) as my children have called it is ticking steadily in the corner. The house has gone a bit quiet as my children are each in their own homes or on the way home. The air crisp and fresh with the coming of the new year and is fully optimistic with my long list of personal and professional goals.
As I reflect on the last year, I recognize many positive things. It would be easy to create a long list of gratitudes. But there is something else calling me, I am sure of it.
I anticipate that the coming year will bring many changes. Some are scary, some are exciting, some are a little of both. I have been planning and researching and it is time to be a bit bolder with my career. I know that much of this will depend on the opportunity I create for myself. For the first time in a long time, I don’t know exactly what that will be, only that it is time for a change.
I am excited to see what 2020 will bring for me. I hope that you feel the same. A new year feels like a fresh canvas- I cannot wait to paint it.
I hope you feel optimistic too. I hope this year challenges you. I hope you grow, laugh, and reach new heights. I hope that you find a way to bring the best of you to the world. To love deeply, to create wildly and to know, without doubt-
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 Goodnine 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!
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.
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.
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.