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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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