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12 years…

I can already feel it, this is going to be a long one. Please get yourself something to drink before you sit down – you might need it. 

Over the past few months, I have been very uncertain about what news this blog would ultimately share. I have been considering closing Create Art 4 Good. 

Navigating a small business is no easy task. You find essential tasks you never imagined would be essential to your success. You put in very long hours. As a solopreneur, you do it all. It can be so incredible, and also so disheartening. August 9th is my twelfth anniversary for Create Art 4 Good… The last two years have made the path forward very difficult. Particularly for small businesses. This coupled with some sort of balance with a personal life (along with all the challenges that living the big life entails) has caused me to take a step back and carefully evaluate my next step. 

I appreciate you allowing me to share…

I began Create Art 4 Good as sort of a traveling art show. (Think Tupperware parties for art) Many invited me into their homes and businesses to share my work. It was wonderful! Eventually, I found space in the Hungerford building and really opened up the BIG HUGE dream. At the Hungerford, I represented hundreds of artists, I held countless events, art workshops, business, social, and socially conscious events. I paid it forward with a portion of every single sale.  In early 2020 I decided a change was in the wind and I needed to move. I then closed the gallery at the Hungerford and moved to a small studio in the Piano Works Mall. I decided it was time to do for myself what I had been doing for other artists. My focus was to be more on my work, and my greeting card company.

Then the global pandemic hit literally two weeks after I moved.  

Throughout the pandemic, I did a lot of treading water. I pivoted a whole big bunch in early 2020. I painted signs for birthdays and other celebrations (often installing them fully masked at midnight to surprise the recipient without detection), I created subscription offerings for my card company, I held virtual art workshops and more. Throughout 2020 and into 2021 I sort of ignored the challenges of the pandemic and pushed harder to survive and even thrive. In this process, I put a great deal of pressure on myself to not just survive but increase the income I had previously made from my art. (Isn’t that the mark of success?)

By 2022 I admit burnout was so full on that I felt like I was in ashes. For the first time, I thought about closing Create Art 4 Good. (I cannot tell you what a painful thought that was)  From a financial standpoint, it seemed to make sense. My husband has suggested frequently that if I could just be “seen” I would be successful.  I felt like I was the needle in the haystack, no one could find me and every time I thought a big break would come, it vanished.  

Over the last few months, I have thought a great deal about this decision, I meditated about this,  sought advice and wisdom from trusted friends and colleagues, and sat with it. I knew making a careful decision was essential. In the past, I have had other businesses. I have never had a business last for twelve solid years. During this time I had to define what my current objectives were. I have evolved. My needs are clearer after twelve years of experience.  

Society encourages us to measure our success with the numbers in our bank accounts. I admit I got caught up in that too. I have said several times, I work too hard for what my bank account reflects. However, success should be measured in more ways than financial. No, I am not dripping in money, but I DO have enough. Isn’t that what we all need? As I further evaluate the last twelve years, I am grateful to say I believe my business met the goals in my original business plan. I can pay my bills, I can even buy a fancy paintbrush when I want.  I have been able to encourage other artists, establish a working gallery, paid it forward with my work in the arts, and more. I have learned, I have grown.  In my big picture, this is a success. 

That said, I am still darn tired. I spend more time doing the businessy things I don’t like rather than the stuff I love.  So is it time to let go of the business? This has been a constant question to which I believe I finally have an answer. 

Personally, the last week of my life has been pretty incredible. I have been in a pretty difficult place. Closing a business is such a loss. I was deeply grieving even the possibility. Deciding the future with all the components has incredible weight. I also do not deal well with limbo.  However, this was too impactful a decision to rush through. 

Then last Sunday, I woke up feeling unwell. (I promise I will give you the news soon)

The day before had been a very busy day. It was incredibly hot, I had so many errands to run, and we hosted family at our home to celebrate my husband’s birthday. The day was full, but not horrible, yet I felt like I was much more tired than I should be, but ignored it and pushed through. Sunday was different. I was sofa bound. I felt completely off. I had a huge to-do list that was going to sit there completely undisturbed. (this is where it gets stupid)

Being completely transparent, I am not great with seeking medical attention. However, even I was thinking that might be the right course of action. I did not share how I was feeling with anyone. I just said I wasn’t feeling great. However, fun fact, my apple watch (gift from the aforementioned husband) has an O2 monitor on it as well as a heart rate monitor. One of the issues I was having felt like Tachycardia that wouldn’t quit. (I have occasional tachycardia) Sure enough, my apple watch confirmed this about eight different times. I continued being a couch potato evaluating my next step. 

I vigorously debated if I should bother people on a Sunday to go to the doctor. I knew they would send me to the hospital and that was the last thing on earth I wanted. I talked myself in and out of this for way too many hours. In the end, I lived the day and eventually went to bed.  The next morning, I got up with resolve, took a shower, and prepared for what I knew was coming. I called my doctor and set up an appointment.  Long story short, after several EKGs  I was sent to the hospital. (the very last place I wanted to be)

I was in the hospital for two days. There were countless meds, blood tests, EKGs, heart monitors, and more. Because of Covid restrictions, I was alone for most of this. I spent hours wondering what was going to happen next.  I was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation with rapid ventricular response. (it sounds fancy, it just means my heart was misfiring, beating too fast, and just plain not working.) Essentially I had a broken heart.  If you know anything about my work, you know that I paint a LOT of hearts. I laughed to myself several times, a human with a heart that is broken is passionate about painting hearts. Irony?  It sure feels like it. 

I am happy to say that my doctors found a solution that seems to be working for me. I also will share that the next time, if there is a next time, I will be going to the doctors or hospital promptly and not wait for thirty or so hours before seeking treatment… but I digress. 

So where am I going with all this?

If I look at my original goals for Create Art 4 Good, it was to make art and to pay it forward using that art. If you boil it all down I have attained that goal. So, should I continue?

Yes, I should.

Let me tell you why. This business has been a joy, a whole lot of work, and yes sometimes heartache. But, it is also my heart. I can continue to share love through the art I create. I can share love through the messages in my cards. I can share love with the support I give to charities in various ways.  This business is a way for me to be who I really am. A simple human, that loves color, a plethora of mediums, and messy hands doing her best to share the love every single way. This business amplifies my voice. This business strengthens my courage. This business is my heart. 

I know that another change is likely in the wind. That is okay. I know that I need to find a balance. That is good. I am not suggesting my heart issue is a result of working hard. It is just a thing. But if you put all the ingredients in the blender, you come out with 1. Don’t give up your big dream 2. Keep making art, keep exploring, and keep putting love in the universe.  3. make sure you have time for self-care, reading a book, and walking in the park (Not necessarily in that order)

So, continue we must. With love, more balance, and a whole lot more paint…

Help me celebrate twelve years… the best is yet to be. 

sending you so much love… 

Susan

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The art of paying it forward.

Disclaimer: I actually wrote this blog two months ago. I have been struggling with it ever since. First, I don’t like rocking the boat. It is uncomfortable. I want to inspire, not tick people off. But this topic is important. It is hopefully an opportunity to at the very least make people think about what they are asking for.

Secondly, this is NOT to stop requests. It is to as previously stated, just open the door for discussion, raised consciousness.

Lastly, Thank you for reading this. Sometimes we just need to be heard. That said, on to the rocking of the boat.

 Today I received an email from a stranger asking for art. This isn’t an unusual circumstance, I receive many each year. I admit, when this first began happening I was flattered. They wanted my work! It felt validating. Some of the requests even suggested that it was a good move for me to gain exposure. That made a great deal of sense to me at the time. After all, I NEED to make art, why let it sit in the studio collecting dust? Why not give to someone who will get it out in the world!?

Then I gained more spirit, I am more experienced, I grew, and a very wise person suggested that perhaps I shouldn’t part with my work so easily. She told me that it was certainly a good thing to help people in need, but why must it be ALWAYS for free? She suggested I could give a generous price break, but I should ask to be compensated for my work. 

I responded with,” because that is what we do, we help.”

She then asked if Wegmans (our local grocery store) would give me my groceries for free if I asked them. 

“No,” I replied. 

The problem becomes bigger when you receive requests dozens of times each month. As a business that has grown over the last eight years, I have literally hundreds of requests and I still find It is difficult to say no. Everyone is in need it seems, everyone is trying to do good things. However, practically speaking, there is no way I could give to everyone who requests.  That said, we are all trying to help each other, right?

I think that artists are particularly vulnerable. After all, artists are doing what we love to do, right? That is payment enough, right? Perhaps. However, artists, just like everyone else still have to pay for not only materials to create art but all the other line items that go along with living life.  This IS our job, this IS our vocation. 

I am reminded that we generally don’t ask for other services or other items for nothing. The electric company doesn’t compromise on being paid each month, nor does the mortgage company, or even the grocery store. 

Why am I bringing this up?

It isn’t that I don’t want to help. I do. I actually donate a portion of every single sale made at my gallery to one of several local charities. I guess I am hoping that we will be more sensitive. Art is like any other profession. There is skill involved. There is effort. There are expenses. Just like the auto mechanic, your doctor, your plumber, or your cable provider, we exchange money for services.  While it is true, many artists follow their big dreams and create art every day.  I would imagine that every human who grows up to be what they have dreamt of being has a similar fulfillment. Art is no different. 

So the next time you ask someone to design a tattoo for you, design your business card, paint a picture of your grandmother, donate art to your favorite charity or whatever the case may be, be sensitive. Be honorable. Think about what you are asking for.  Know that what is donated to you is a huge gift. Consider the fact that like anything else, art is a valuable resource. It doesn’t happen magically.

While it is true that artists generally love the work, the process, they also appreciate the opportunity to put food on their table, heat their homes, and buy more art supplies. 

Thank you for listening. 

Blessings & love, 

Susan.

P.S. 

This does not in any way mean that I will never give away a piece of art. It only means that I am trying to share insight from the other side. Thank you for your awareness. a heart painting created on player piano paper

 

 

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June Exhibition

I can hardly believe that it is almost June. The new gallery is thriving with the most wonderful art. I feel really blessed to be a part of facilitating the most incredible exhibits for your viewing and collecting pleasures! 

In June we will welcome a talented gentleman that makes me want to write a children’s book so we can collaborate! Jonathan Schnapp’s work is incredible! His characters are charming and delightfully unconventional. 

Please save the date- come meet Jon and his cast of characters! 

Not convinced yet? Here is what Jon has to say:

Artist Statement
by Jonathan Schnapp

“My work in painting is a celebration of everything I love, including bright colors and quirky characters. Appealing to children and grown-ups alike, each picture is a page from a storybook. With the context gone, it is up to the viewer to decipher the rest of the tale.
But what the viewer may not guess is the personal story behind the paint. Having struggled with mental health issues for much of my life, the issue of who I am and my place in the world is always at the forefront. These paintings, as silly and child-like as they are, are often representations of frustration, confusion, and anxiety. The characters each take on an aspect of my experience.
Chickens represent cowardice, crocodiles bring deception, cows are apathetic. Seeing the characters interact with fantastical environments shows their limits and contradictions, but also their strengths. The result is a work that tells a fun story and teaches me something about myself.”

What’s not to love? Jon’s use of color and movement are positively expiring to me as an artist I LOVE the texture in this piece. I cannot wait to show you in person! 

I AM SO EXCITED!

See you soon! June is almost here!

blessings – 

Susan

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celebrating four years at the Hungerford

We are located on the second floor of building 5. Suite #201
Four years ago today, my life changed forever. I took Create Art 4 Good from a pop-up art market business to one that had walls, windows, and a door. It took my dreams of a lifetime and realized them into being. It began four years of two “homes”, incredible and wonderful experiences too many to count and growth.
 
Friday night, I will open the doors again, with almost that much anticipation. Friday, I will celebrate four incredible years at the Hungerford building.
 
To say I am happy is quite an understatement. I am living my dreams! I make art every day! I share this path with incredible friends and family who support and love me every single step of the way.
 
I hope you are able to stop in. If not, I know I will see you soon.
with so much love,
Susan
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Opening tonight! Postcards from the Heart

The gallery awaits the final touches- so I will be brief. 

I make my way in the world by following my heart. If you read my post from a week ago, you know that this exhibit is no exception. Why I began Create Art 4 Good in the first place is I wanted to do what I love and try to make a difference. I cannot tell you the joy I have when my hands (arms, clothes) are messy because I was painting, mono printing or the like. I cannot tell you the joy I have when new designs I have created come from the printer and I tuck in an envelope to package them for your patronage. ART to me is breathing, it is life, it is even amazing when things to flow or work well. ART IS MY OXYGEN!

I am well aware however, that art has power. Art can be generous, art can be opportunity. 

The artists that have supported this project each have their own relationship with art. I will not presume to understand their response to the creative act. However, I DO, appreciate with my full heart how generous they are. As artists we are constantly asked to give a piece of art to support this or that. At times, to be honest, it gets old. I have personally felt under valued, like my work isn’t real because I am not a CFO of a major corporation. Yet here I stand before you (okay, I am sitting) asking artists, and lovely humans alike to create a piece of art to help support families in need. 

and they responded beautifully. 

Tonight is about paying it forward. It is about sharing love, it is about seeing the need and answering. 

“When I was hungry, you gave me to eat.”

I hope that you will find it in  your heart to come tonight. The air conditioning will be on. The water will have lemons in it, and my wall will be covered in love. Beautiful frame-able art created by an amazing girl scout troop, incredible art students, professional artists and all good souls. Honor them, honor the Irondequoit Community Cupboard and let’s do good work. 

Blessings & big huge love, 

Susan

 

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Post cards, love and dreams

Last year when I was planning the 2017 exhibit schedule, I easily filled in most of the dates rather quickly. July remained unclaimed. But, I know people travel and don’t always want to commit to putting up a huge exhibit during a vacation month. Without panic or concern I decided to take a step back and think about it for a while. I had several ideas, but none of them were “singing” to me. I knew I had to be patient and let the thoughts perk for a bit. 

THEN

One morning I wrote down the date of the opening. 7.7.17

HOLY WOW! (yes, I do say things like that sometimes.) It was not only singing; it felt as if the entire church choir sang to me! 

I believe that in life we pick up tools, we use them when the situation presents itself, and well until them, we might actually store them in the resource box somewhere. I feel like everything I do these days is guided and gifted.

One of the charities, I hold dear, is the Irondequoit Community Cupboard. The ICC is one of my chosen charities. While it seems popular to give to places such as these at the holidays, there is profound need 365 days a year. At this time of year, the shelves can get a little bare. The children are home, and not at school. They are not receiving the opportunity to have breakfast and lunch at school. This doesn’t even begin to address that when children are not occupied for most of the day they claim they are “bored”. I don’t know about your children, but mine would eat us out of house and home when they were bored. 

and then it hit… Children are hungry SEVEN days a week. 7.7.17

So… I started talking about it. I picked up some of those tools I have acquired and I got down right bold! I spoke with Debbie Evans who tirelessly runs the ICC. She was in favor so that gave me permission to proceed.

 I began asking for artwork. I posted, and re-posted. I asked friends near and far to contribute. Each response was positive. The idea was catching on. 

Cut to a year or so later. The mail began to come. I received post card art from friends as far away as Pennsylvania, and as close as just a whisper down the road. Art came from those closest to me, and friends I have never met. One envelope I opened had post cards from a local GirlScout Troop. I admit, that one made me cry. Artists near and far all stepped up to the plate! It was fantastic! 

I actually extended the deadline- people wanted to contribute but life always seems to get in the way. Patience paid off! It was amazing! 

Now, we proceed to July 7th. Kids ARE hungry 7 days a week. The opening is at 6pm. Now the success belongs to those who enter the gallery and spend at least $10 to support the work of Debbie Evans and all those at the ICC. 

PLEASE come- PLEASE bring cash- please help us help others. 

I will see you soon- 

full with post cards, love and dreams, 

Susan