It has taken me a day or two to catch up with the fact that the new year has presented itself. A brand new, shiny, clean new year. In the past, I have always looked at the new year as a fresh slate. This year, circumstances don’t necessarily present that optimism as clearly for me.
It is also a time of reflection on the year past. From what I observe online, many are suggesting that 2021 was a horrific year. I agree, it certainly had its challenges. I am discouraged that it is so easy to discard an entire year as horrific.
Before you get defensive, I know there has been great loss. I know that we are tired. I know that the world is STILL in a global pandemic. I know that our lives have changed in order to manage that pandemic. I know. I know that likely every single one of you reading this knows someone who is suffering from covid, cancer, or some other horrible affliction. I am keenly aware that the challenges are great. I might even suggest that I am pretty aware of the same.
Yet. I cannot dismiss three hundred and sixty-five days as all bad. When I reflect upon the past year, I see the personal growth I have worked towards. I see my children blooming in their relationships, their careers, and their humanity. I see my business changing and growing. I see many positive things happening. I see good deeds, good people, generosity of souls, kindness, and caring.
I won’t pretend that I ignore the darkness. There has been so much loss, so much illness, not just Covid, but cancer, and other scary things. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by the darkness. But these are the times I actively seek the light. I try to do my best to ramp up the courage and a healthy dose of hope.
As I said, I take time each new year to reflect. Reflect on accomplishments, on lessons learned, on growth, on the joys, on… well many things. I think it would be easy for me to see only the darkness if I didn’t consciously seek gratitude for all of the good, for the joys, for the kindnesses. I saw something recently where someone suggested that we don’t have bad days, we have bad moments. Rarely is every single minute of a day horrible. This offered an interesting perspective that I try to adhere to.
The year presented us with some really horrible things. I know that many are weary. Many have faced giant mountains. I only seek to suggest that we see how many of those mountains have been conquered. How many moments of joy have stitched us together. How many blessings have we received?
So… seek the light, my friends- it is not that we won’t have challenges this year, but I believe that we can meet those challenges more successfully if we focus on the light, even if it is a sliver of light in the darkest darkness.
Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm. A. Lincoln
I have had to ponder this for a bit, it all felt too jumbled emotionally to share. I honestly couldn’t decide if I was happy or sad or both. At this point, I feel the emotion just “was” and defining it ultimately served no real purpose. It was instead an opportunity to move through it and find a way to the other side.
A few weeks ago, would have been my tenth anniversary having a studio at the Hungerford. I bring this up only because leaving the Hungerford marked a huge transition for me. I made note of the date literally the day before. As I said above, I wasn’t sure if I felt happy, sad, or otherwise.
The Hungerford was my first “real” studio. I made a studio space into a gallery. I embraced the esthetic of not so long ago industrial and created my own real-world gallery. I supported artists there. I had a new exhibit with a guest artist (or artists) every single month. I held workshops there. I held events that supported and reached out to the homeless, women in crisis, and those being treated for cancer. I held meetings to support small business Marketing, Artisan Socials, and more.
I worked so hard there… I grew as an artist and a person there… I made some dear friends there… it was home.
In January of 2020, I made the decision that it was time for a change. I love(d) what I was doing- but something in me knew it was time for a big change. I had a lot of time to think about this as I spontaneously drove to Florida by myself (after an invitation twelve hours earlier from my son and bonus daughter) to spend a week with them. I did it! (If you only knew how out of character this was for me)
When I got home about ten days later I knew that change was in the wind. It was happening, I just wasn’t sure how. ( The last time I felt this way I went back to college.)
Enter a Facebook post by Brandi Marino. Brandi shared about a new collective at the Piano Works Mall. I decided to go check it out. My original intention was to see it and if I liked it, consider opening a second site for Create Art 4 Good. Perhaps I would hold workshops there.
Two days later, after seeing the space twice, I made the decision to move from the Hungerford to Central Creatives. (My husband was not pleased, but thankfully he was supportive)
Somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew this wasn’t just about changing location. It was about changing the business altogether.
The universe must have agreed because out of the thin air I had people volunteering to move me. SO many people! It was really quite amazing. (talk about grateful!) I moved in on February 23, and on February 29th, we as a collective had our first big opening.
Then… the global pandemic hit, and we shut down.
Why on earth am I telling you all this? Well… you see, I changed far more than location. I changed the business. While I still try to support my fellow artists, I do not have a new exhibit every month (who could in a pandemic?) This forced me to make some changes. I am certainly not suggesting that I love the pandemic, but as my mother would have said, “There’s always something to be grateful for.”
What I am grateful for is that I have found a way to prioritize my own work. I have taken quite seriously my art, my greeting card company, and my mission. I still pay it forward with a portion of the profits going to charity. I still support other artists- I am a pretty good cheerleader, but also I have taken over Rochester Artisans started by the ever wonderful Stefani Tadio. This is a group that assists other artists with all things business. It gives me joy to facilitate that group. I even still do a workshop or two. During the height of the pandemic- zoom became a very handy tool. So the changes are there, but maybe it is more of a shift. Perhaps it was time.
So, I might not be at the Hungerford. But I am celebrating a business that is twelve years old. I am celebrating my own personal and professional growth. I am celebrating surviving and even having moments of thriving in the pandemic world. I am grateful for the opportunity to take my own work more seriously, and the courage to do so. I am grateful for you.
(whew, this was a long one, wasn’t it?)
I believe, with my whole heart, I am in the right place.
Below is a blog post I wrote five years ago. It was a post to celebrate several years at Create Art 4 Good. It embraced the growth, the changes, and a big announcement. I am sitting here reflecting on this incredible journey that began over a decade ago, really appreciating all the lessons I have learned and the wisdom revealed. I am celebrating the fact that I have done what I set out to do. I am celebrating the incredible support I have been so blessed to receive. I am celebrating the revelation of my dreams. Each year seems to have brought growth and progress. Each year, the dreams became a little more refined.
Five years ago, I announced that I would begin formally Greetings4Good. Little did I know at the time that the mission was finally revealed. It is certain to me that I was absolutely meant to begin Create Art 4 Good as I did. I was blessed to support other artists, curate incredible exhibits, pay it forward with hosting charitable events, as well as financial contributions to local charities, facilitate countless workshops and other creative activities. This was all part of the process. I have learned so much, grown so much, and found perhaps a quieter mission.
Today, while I celebrate all the business of Create Art 4 Good has taught me, I celebrate more the direction this has taken. When I moved from the Hungerford in 2020, I dedicated myself to a new path, or perhaps just a more specifically dedicated one. I wanted and needed to create more, to honor all those millions of ideas swimming in my head. I wanted and needed to work more diligently on my greeting card business.
Greetings 4 Good has become my heart project. It IS my mission. Perhaps it sounds silly, but I have always needed to think I could change the world in some way. I feel that my “gift” is not necessarily art, but the ability to love. I feel that my affection for the underdog, the lonely, the uncelebrated has been the bridge to this business. Cards, especially for no real obligation brighten someone’s day, remind them that they are cared for, and well, it is a simple way to do so.
I have said for some time that I have been blessed to pick up tools and skills throughout my life that the purpose of which would later be revealed. When I went back to college for a graphic design degree, I thought it was to work on logos and business collateral for others. NOPE. It was so that I would have some sort of knowledge base to begin a card company. These skills coupled with my deep desire to paint and create seem to be the perfect marriage.
So today- I celebrate Create Art 4 Good. While I still do my best to support other artists through mentoring as well as Rochester Artisans (thank you, Stefani Tadio!), I am keenly aware that this was the foundational business that brought me to the mission of my life. I still support those in need through donations, the thoughtfulness project, and the 365 project. (in 2021 I set a goal of sending a card a day, and to date I have delivered/mailed/and otherwise nearly 940 cards to friends, family, and mostly complete strangers) I am completely determined to change the world… one greeting card at a time.
Thank you for listening… thank you for celebrating with me. (below is the original announcement of my card company just for giggles)
the best is yet to be.
Sending you so much love!
The Big Announcement (August 9, 2016)
Today is my anniversary! Create Art 4 Good was launched on August 9th. It will always be a “day” for me. I remember when I began, it was a dream in the making. I diligently wrote and re-wrote the business plan SEVEN times. YEP, seven. For me, it was about ensuring the success of my dreams. Today, I am celebrating with awe my successes and jumping with vigor into the next dream!
I could go on and on about how much I have learned, and that is completely true. I could share the changes that have occurred in the last few years, (not the least of which is celebrating my dream of a gallery at the Hungerford)- which is also true.
For me, this is a gigantic celebration that isn’t just about celebrating the success I feel in growing a small business. It is about the opportunity that I am jumping into with my everything. It is about the bubbling pure joy that is overflowing in my heart as I write this.
Let me give you the background information.
When I was little, my mom used to say when my father was feeling a bit grumpy he’d go to the hardware store. He would wander around and sort out his thoughts among the nuts and bolts and shiny new tools. When he returned, he was usually in much better spirits. As an adult, I recognize that this was sort of his time out. He didn’t have to talk to anyone, he just found himself in “the zone”- his zone.
I have a similar “thing”, however usually at a stationery store. I wander around, look and let go. My terrible mood usually turns into something proactive, I buy a card or two (or ten) not usually because I need them, but because I have thought of someone who seems to be going through something or someone who needs to be celebrated. My favorite opportunities are the ones that are not required. An encouragement, a thank you, or just a little bit of love.
Why am I telling you all this? In life we are given many messages, if we pay attention it seems that everything is revealed at the perfect time. My love of pretty stationery, beautiful cards, and fine papers isn’t just an artist thing, I would suggest perhaps it’s a vocation. (more honestly NOT just a vocation but a passion… maybe even obsession?!) I fully embrace the art of thoughtfulness. It gives me life and more importantly seems to positively affect those to who I send them.
One of the things that bothers me about our very fast-paced world is that we forget to take notice, to pause, to appreciate, to recognize. We don’t send cards as often as in the past. A recent survey that I posted on social media indicates that we don’t send as many cards, as we want to (which inspires guilt), we LOVE getting cards, AND we appreciate cards that are unique, and beautiful. The message is clear -it is vital to pause, to notice, to appreciate each other.
As an artist, it is a natural extension to make cards from the artwork I create. It is affordable for those who appreciate your work and it is a lovely way to share creativity. I have been honored by those who mention to me after sending some of my cards that they were not only proud to send my greetings, but the recipient was delighted as well. One person shares with me that she sends my cards to her “special people” because she likes to send beautiful art. I love it when I hear from someone I was inspired to send a card to sends me a message that my card positively changed their day, made them feel important or truly loved. I will admit, it is a bit of an ego boost when someone tells you that they exclusively send your images for every reason there is to send a card.
I have listened- and my next step has been revealed.
It is with great honor I announce the birth of GREETINGS 4 GOOD.
Greetings 4 Goodwill flourish under the parent company, Create Art 4 Good. It will use fine art images to create gorgeous stationery, greeting cards, and other inspiring products. Each week(from now until October) I will reveal the product line piece by piece. I want these images to be your very favorites, so I will humbling ask for your help in deciding which images should go to print! I will invite you to join Greetings 4 Good– which will have some really nifty perks! (free cards, promotions & special offers)
Are you in?
SAVE THE DATE! The official launch date for Greetings 4 Good will be October 7th, 2016 at my gallery – Create Art 4 Good. That night you will see the original images I have created married to the poetry I write to bloom into beautiful and unique cards for you. You will have the opportunity to view and purchase greeting cards that give back (just like with Create Art 4 Good- a donation is made with each sale) and help you to send a little bit of love to those you cherish. This opening will be the gala of a lifetime of making art and poetry and celebrating the bloom of thoughtfulness.
Thank you for celebrating my anniversary, your support of my work sustains me in ways you could never imagine. I appreciate your love and faithfulness.
with great joy, love & peace,
p.s. send someone a card today- for no reason- JUST BECAUSE – you will both be happy you did!
p.p.s. Starting in October, send a Greetings4Good card (just because you will send a beautiful art card- and make many people happy!)
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…
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.
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.
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.
These are some of my favorite works by him.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Again, the image, the mat, the way it was all put together. I loved it.
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.
I love the detail in these. For me, anything can be beautiful. even a fork!
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.
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!)
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.
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!