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.
In June I left my position of nearly thirteen years to live the little girl (and big girl) dream of being a “REAL” artist 24/7. I no longer have to divide my time or my energy with two full-time positions, but one. ONLY ONE.
I could have never anticipated what happened next.
First, I am well aware that life does not roll out like it does in the movies. The main character whom you have cherished during the previous 79 minutes of the film gets her dream after enduring and overcoming every possible obstacle. All the sentimentals in the theater get a heavy dose of dopamine as the credits roll and all is right in the world. What we don’t see is the main character’s struggle AFTER the credits roll. What we don’t understand is that even when dreams come true it does not guarantee success nor does it ignore the fact that it is usually a heck of a lot of work.
AND…there is the fact that the entire game has changed. What you have done for decades you are no longer required to do. There is comfort in routine. There is comfort in having a backup to your dream plan. There is comfort in knowing that you have your fingers in several pies…
So, all of that said, this is a very vulnerable time for me. I am trying to focus in spite of a few unexpected challenges. I am trying to build the new road and focus my energy.
Here’s the thing. This is scary stuff. The summer has been hot and humid. That encompassing overwhelming feeling you get on a really hot and humid day is sort of how my spirit has felt for these last two months.
But today- I woke up, and I felt stronger. The air had that autumn crispness to it. I feel rested for the first time in months. I feel like I was able to make a difference in this day. I feel strong. I feel focused.
The new normal isn’t always a linear path. Sometimes you have to dig around to find out where the road is and set with intent the destination. I have dreamt about a vocation as an artist since I was a very little girl. I have felt the joys and balance of my own spirituality and wonder every single time I have held a colored pencil or paintbrush. I believe that this step is vital in my pure authentic life.
Today I do not have to rely on my faith of this to feel the rightness of it. My footing is solid, my hopes feel like a plan and I am secure in the next step.
Today, I am actually understanding that while the struggle was real (and might be again tomorrow or even this afternoon) the light for this path is on full strength. I am secure in the unknown, I am equipped to handle the path and I am joyfully accepting of the darkness. It is in that darkness where I have found the brightest of lights.
The dream is real. There is a plan. There is a paintbrush,,,it awaits.
I pray you find your dream- I pray you have the courage to live it 100%.
It doesn’t seem possible that I began Create Art 4 Good seven years ago. I know it didn’t happen over night, It was a lifetime of gathering tools and clarification before making the big jump. Little did I understand at the time that what I craved ultimately was the key to my success. I just wanted to be me- all of me, and move through the world with that. I was frustrated that I felt like I had so much to share but had no venue in which to do so.
Create Art 4 Good was a path to authenticity. I think that embracing all of who we are ultimately serves us and others perfectly.
So here we are. Seven years later! I suppose I not only am excited about all that has been accomplished, but I suppose I am embracing my “seven year itch” with leaving my full-time day position to dedicate all of my time to Create Art 4 Good. This is such a huge dream come true, I cannot even believe my life!
Below find a little video, celebrating the last seven years. I am grateful to you for your love and support. On to the next 7 years!
Last night I opened the doors to share my new studio space. It has been for me much more than a transition to a new space, it has been an intense transition for me personally.
When you begin a journey that you KNOW you are meant to but are uncertain of the other side, it can be quite unsettling. It is vulnerable, it is scary. However, something changed in me. I had no preconceived notion that this was going to happen.
I feel like I found my new and higher self in this process. I feel like with the hope of spring (trust me, I live in Rochester, NY it is JUST a hope at this point. There is snow on the ground!) there is a new bloom. I am ready to work. I am ready to create. I am ready to take big huge chances.
The overwhelming and tremendous support I received yesterday felt like nothing I have ever experienced before. When I opened my doors (a whole seventy-five minutes EARLY) I felt nothing but joy in wanting to share the next step of my journey. There was no panic, there was no regret – there was only joy. The fact that I was confirmed repeatedly by loved ones and strangers alike was incredible.
Last night felt like a party- a dance, a tremendous bloom!
I have said for a long time that if you live your fingerprint you cannot help but bloom. I gratefully feel as though I am living those words. This is not to say that life is without challenge, but it is to say, I know I am on the right path.
Thank YOU for blessing me with your love, support, and kindness.