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.
I have always believed that art is vital to the survival of the world. It marks history, it shares beauty, it reflects and inspires ideas, and it is a tool of expression. For me, it is oxygen. Not just the creation of art, but having it in my home, seeing others’ art, learning about art, breathing art. As a professional artist, I am always trying to find a way to share my art that is accessible to all humans that also still honors my work and shares my love. I am well aware, as I am one of them, that art can be sometimes difficult to access. As vital as it is to me, it is not always in my budget to purchase the $5,000 painting I just fell in love with.
So, I do my best to share my art, my gratitude, my love in the most accessible ways. It feels almost like a mission to do so. The world as we currently know it is a stressful place. (I suppose that is normal, but this is OVER the top Stressful. So, I have set out to create a set of small paintings to share with the world.
This accomplishes many things, really. I paint. Which is very good for me. Otherwise, I get downright stuck in my head. As the weeks of this pandemic continue, I find myself on a roller coaster of emotions, sometimes all in one day. Also, I am a doer. In a crisis, I generally need to be doing something. Cooking, organizing, taking care of those who are in difficulty. It is hard to comprehend a way that would effectively make a difference to a global pandemic. While I enjoyed biology in high school, I cannot say that I have the facilities to cure a pandemic. (Though I sorely wish I did)
My mission of painting one little bit of love at a time makes me feel as if I am doing something. The reaction in the last two weeks has been incredible. I feel so honored to participate in this and share my art with you! So it continues. I will paint three or so paintings each day and share them with you. Typically I post them on Facebook, but if you would like to be notified, shoot me an email! (Susan)
This time is truly unprecedented. Vital to our survival is how we navigate this time. I am not always good at sitting still. I am MUCH, MUCH better at it when I have a paintbrush in my hand. I am a hugger, giving love and support is a life source for me, and hopefully helps others. These little paintings are my hugs for now.
I hope you and yours are doing well. I pray that you have found a way to take one step at a time, live your day, and embrace the opportunities this time has given to each of us. I am here if you need a virtual hug, or you know, a mini painting.
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.
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)
Facilitator: Susan Carmen-Duffy
5-week workshop- 2 hours a day. $145- most supplies included
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
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.
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.
To pay it forward, and to support my fellow human.
To hold creative opportunities and support art in the world.
It’s time to admit that I am no superwoman. That life has gotten in the way and well, admit defeat. In a month I hoped to release my book, “Be Still and Listen”. I have set up social media for it, I have worked countless hours on it and still… I am not ready.
It might be my fear of imperfection. It might be the rude and terrorizing inner editor, it might be…. goodness so many reasons! But the bottom line is still that I know it’s not right to push out a piece of work that is not where I want it to be.
WELL! Doesn’t that just put me in a pickle! This feels like a failure to me. This feels like I have not kept my word. This feels sad. But like a pickle, sometimes they taste better if they have been in the brine for a bit, maybe my book needs a bit more stewing as well.
There was a group at my studio a week or two ago. I shared with them my concerns about the book release. The calendar was ticking away the days and while I think the book is SO DARN CLOSE, it is not where I really want it to be. They were very supportive and suggested that the craziness in my personal life was a perfect excuse to not release the book as yet. While I appreciate their support, I believe the real reason is that it just not ready.
So, here is the irony- I FEEL so much urgency about this. But you know.. it’s not yet done pickling I suppose. I have issues with the fact that this book has been in the works for far too long. However, if I am following what I suggest YOU do in my book- the whole premise of the book is to, “be still and listen”.
So, dear patient and wonderful friends, that is what I am going to do. I suppose things will blossom on their own time, not when we wish to force it to. I am frustrated with this decision (again, that whole failure thing) but I do have peace with the fact that this is the correct decision. That said I shall end this missive now, as I have an anniversary exhibit to plan! Stay tuned, this book WILL be out soon.