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Photo Credit ~ Daniel Krucoff

I have read numerous opinions about artists donating their work. I have done so in the past. As a result, I have formed my own opinion about when I will donate a piece of my work.

When I was approached to donate a piece for an art benefit being held for my friend Tracey Clarke, there was no hesitation. It had been my hope that her friends on the east coast would put something like this together for her and they had. I was happy to contribute in my own way, because I could not be their in person to show my support.

You see, Tracey & I met through an online group, Art Scuttlebutt, a number of years ago. We admired each others work and a friendship developed, which continues to grow.

Earlier this year, I approached Tracey to do a portrait of our Newt. She agreed and that lovely portrait hangs in my studio today.

In August, something happened…Tracey was diagnosed with glioblastoma, a very aggressive form of brain cancer. She had three cluster tumors removed and is undergoing treatment. You can read about her journey here.  Her courage, grace, faith and poise through this battle have added to the many things I admire about her.

This Saturday, November 5th, will be the artist fund raiser to help raise money for her to offset the medical expenses she and her husband are incurring.  My donation of Believer is just one small way I can offer help to a gifted friend.

Believer is one of my acid etched sterling silver pieces.  I love Celtic crosses and felt this one would hold lots of meaning for the person who will eventually wear it.  The liver of sulpher patina came out very colorful and to protect it, I applied a light coating of Renaissance Wax.  Dan said that this piece had a nice look of being from ancient times because of the patina I applied.  I wanted that, something reminiscent of the Crusades.  A symbol of faith.

I must tell you I am very careful when I donate a piece, but this is one where I leapt at the chance to help.  If you live in the Fredericksburg VA area, I hope you can attend this benefit.

There is something very special about the artist community.  I am meeting more wonderful people, willing to help and contribute in so many ways.

Yes, there are times when donating a piece of your work carries a very special, heartfelt meaning.  May Believer bring funds that are needed and joy to its wearer.

Until next time, aspire to be more as an artist and a person.

A couple weeks ago I did a post on Discovery.  One of the things I wanted to convey is how important I think it is for all artists to be open to Creativity.  It can come to us at the most unusual times and places.  Sometimes imagery comes to me in a dream.  Another time I wrote about the images coming to me in my optometrist’s office!

The common denominator for me, in all of these situations, is letting my mind be open to receive that creative energy, force, or guidance.  Just doing the familiar in ones studio helps.  The flood of ideas can be overwhelming.  Overpowering too.  There are times when I cannot put my pen and sketch book down because I know I am in the zone and the energy flows from my mind to my hand.  I must capture those images in my sketchbook as quickly as I can.  I can feel, literally feel, that creative energy flowing in me.

I hope that all of you have experienced this feeling.  If not, seek out those places where you can calm and center your mind.  Breath, slowly.  Listen to music.  Find a quiet place where you can still all those distracting voices in your head and just breath.  Looking at the mountains, the trees, our sunrises and sunsets, the patterns clouds create…..those help me to find my creativity.  Even swimming laps or cycling hushes the distracting thoughts that can impair my creativity.  I must admit it’s difficult to capture anything as I would like when I’m swimming or cycling, yet I’ve been able to retain those thoughts until I can find my sketchbook.  Whew.

These techniques are not something that I have perfected, they have become a starting point for me and with practice, allow me to tap into a creative channel.

Today I would like to share the first in a new series.  The design inspiration came from those beautiful Dendritic Opal stones I discussed in my Discovery post.  Ironically, I have yet to use one of those stones in this series.  Yet this first one, Evening Moon, is very special.  It is an Amethyst Sage that Mark Lasater of The Clamshell gave me.  When someone gives me a stone, whatever I make will become mine, so Evening Moon will remain with me.  It is very special.

Evening Moon
Photo Credit ~ Daniel Krucoff

The design came from what I could see in those other stones and also in this one. Trees. I carried some of the trees from this stone and added the texture to ‘create’ the leaves.  The technique that I used to create the tree trunks and branches is called ‘piercing’.  The bottom tree trunk is a replica of the one I see in this stone that is right in front of the white moon.

The shape of the setting does not follow the stone.  This is a shape I have been drawing in my sketch books almost from the beginning of my metalsmithing work.  I love this shape.  To have the stone offset from the center of the sterling silver was important to me.  I wanted the area in the lower left for the accent of the trees.  I kept the oxidation light as I wanted some of the silver to be light and emphasize the beauty of this stone.

I feel that I have been open to this aspect of being creative.  A new direction.  It is a continuation of what I have experienced throughout my life; growth, change, finding myself.  For some, things appear to happen quickly.  For others, like me, it takes time.  I am enjoying the journey.

I hope that some of you will share your thoughts and experiences on being open to creativity.  What are your challenges?  What techniques do you employ to bring your creativity to the forefront?

Please remember how important it is to be open to tapping into the creative channel.  It is out there, just waiting for you.

Until next time, aspire to be more as an artist and a person.

Do you find yourself discovering new paths every day?

I find that I am and it gives me a great sense of renewal.

Every day is a gift.  What we do during that 24 hour span is our choice.  Free will.  Some days are squandered.  Some days are tremendously productive.

I think that Steve Jobs passing last week has given me even more introspective reflection and a hunger, thirst to make every day count.  Sometimes, that may not be completely possible, yet I believe it is vitally important.  None of us know how much time we have here.   Our words and actions may have an impact or influence on those we meet each day.  We may never know or one day someone may share that something we did had a positive impact on them.

Do you think Steve Jobs fully realized his impact on our lives?  Maybe he did to some degree, but I cannot help but think that he may not have realized the full extent his innovations and insights had on our daily existence.  Personally, I believe his influence will be felt for many, many years.

I know I am on a Discovery path.  Coming off of the Jewelry at the Gardens event last weekend, seeing all the creative spirits there, I am inspired to continue to grow even more as an artist.  That growth will bring about new revelations for me and where I will take my work.

The photo at the top of this post shows a few of the Dendritic Opal stones I purchased from Mark & Christa Lasater of The Clam Shell last month at the Denver Gem & Mineral Show.  When I first saw these, a idea for a new series started to flicker in my mind’s eye and then the floodgate of designs opened.  Not a single design has been sketched, but I can clearly see what I will be doing.

Discovery.  The possibilities.

Do you hunger for this sense of Discovery in your life?  I hope you will share your thoughts on this topic.  For me this sense of Discovery is part of what makes humans so complex, unique, and interesting.  If you haven’t found that hunger in your lives, I encourage you to do so.

Until next time, aspire to be more as an artist an a person.

I think this sums it up for me and these are words I will strive to live by the rest of my life.

Thank you Steve for changing our lives and making the world a better place.

Until next time, aspire to be more as an artist and a person.

Jewelry At The Gardens
October 7 – 9, 2011
Denver Botanic Gardens

Jewelry At The Gardens.  This will be my last BIG show of 2011.  Even though it’s only the second year for this event, it is my favorite.

How many shows and or events do you do?  I have yet to come up with the right number for me.  Yet this year, because of the uncertainty of knowing whether or not I would be juried into the shows I applied for, well, I ended up with a very hectic September and October.

Thankfully, I have been able to reach a conclusion about doing the outdoor fine art festivals.  At this point in my career, they are not a good fit.  I have a full time day job that supports all the habits….food, shelter, clothing and materials used in my work.  Doing the outdoor shows/events, I give up my normal weekend and more.  From a financial perspective, they are not a wise investment of my time.

I’ve just started reading “Mystery of Making It” by Jack White.  It’s a bit early to make a full assessment of Jack’s recommendations for artists, but I must admit that right now I find his insights, on Making It in the world as an artist, to be extremely helpful.  My plan is to try other approaches for marketing my work in 2012, outside of shows.  I think I would like to do one show like Jewelry at the Gardens or the Open Studios Tour, but the outside shows have been physically hard for me.

I don’t think there is any right answer about how to approach marketing ones work.  It is my belief that it just takes time and effort with a variety of trials to see what works for the individual artist.  There isn’t an overnight success, as many have told me, it comes after years of hard work.  Very true.

All of that being said, I am excited to be doing Jewelry At the Gardens again this year.  We have some familiar faces from last year and some new ones.  The venue is fantastic.  Last year’s show was such a success that the show has been extended by one day.  Friday evening’s opening will have live entertainment, a little food, wine and the works of some of the best jewelers in the country….even a few who are known internationally.  I am honored to be among them.

Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments….I’d enjoy knowing your approach to marketing your work.

Until next time, aspire to be more as an artist and a person.

The Beginning of Something Wonderful

The photo at the top of this post are a few of the treasures I purchased last week while at the Denver Gem & Mineral Show.  Some are from Gary B Wilson.  Some are from Mark & Christa Lassater of The Clamshell.  I wish that Ken of Rogue Gems would have been there this year as I would love to meet him…I know his work will be a part of my future works too.

Last week, I spent a day at the Denver Gem & Mineral Show with Lexi.  One of those special times I share with Lexi where our respective creative juices are flowing.  Shouts across the booths to each other, come look at this, here is a stone in your color scheme, what do you think of this?, this one is you, you have to get this one…..  I think you get the idea.  We help each other.  We know what each one likes and as we search, we find things that the other may love to incorporate.  And then there are a few twists and turns, along with the surprises.  It’s a real joy to share the day with Lexi at this show.

I knew what I wanted to shop for this year, more so than ever before.  I did my best to avoid the distractions.  Overall I think I did well.  The top photo shows Porcelain Jasper, Dendritic Opals, Sonoran Sunrise, Ocean Jasper and Variscite.  I have a new series in mind thanks to one of these; I’ll start work on it after the Jewelry at the Gardens show.

I was on the hunt for hearts. I think I raided Gary B’s supply. There were some lovelies and I wanted to go for the smaller ones based on client’s requests. These are a few of the new ones and I already have designs completed for them; some petrified palm wood, picasso stone and mystery stones.  What fun!

This weekend will be spent in the studio, working on the hearts that are part of  the Veracity series, along with some new additions to Mountainesque.  I’m excited, energized to be working with new stones on current series that will be ready for Jewelry at the Gardens.

Isn’t that part of what art is all about?  The thrill of creating new things?  As artists, I think we are always looking for something new & different.  I know I am.

Until next time, aspire to be more as an artist and a person.

Saturday Morning In Castle Rock

It was right before the show opened and Lexi took this picture of me with her iPhone.  Not bad!  Thanks Lex.

The weather was perfect.  This was my first BIG fine art show, outside, where the elements could be anything from freezing cold to furnace hot.  This weekend, the Colorado weather was on its best behavior.

The first day, the crowds were relatively light.  There was an Air Force Academy game that may have played a factor in the attendance.  Sunday, the crowds were better and the people were more engaged in looking at the artists work, talking with us, and enjoying the Art Festival.  Ribbons were awarded to artists in various categories.  Two of our friends won best in their divisions, Julie Jerman-Melka for Jewelry and an oil painter, Stephen Koury.  Lexi and I could not be happier for them….well deserved.  I hope you will take a moment to visit their respective websites to see their works….you will see why they won in their categories.

This was not the best selling show I have had, yet regardless of that, I came away from the show with so much more than monetary rewards.  I was invited to participate in the Holiday Market run by Commonwheel Artists Co-op in Manitou Springs!  It is a 6 week event that runs from November 18 – December 31, 2011.  I was flattered and accepted the invitation.  My Arts & Crafts Impressions series caught their eye so there will be more of those wonderful gingko inspired jewelry pieces in the works.

The experience of doing this type of show was invaluable for me.  More importantly was the sisterhood that I shared with three very special artists during the show.  My sister, Lexi Erickson, of course!  Lexi will forever be my mentor; when I need someone to lean on (besides my soul mate Dan) Lexi is there.  I am so blessed to have her in my life.  Then there is Mary Sharp-Davis, a woman that has so much wisdom and gentleness….everyone should meet and learn from a gentle soul like Mary.  And then Julie Jerman-Melka….another woman who mentors, guides and nurtures.   Through Lex, I have met and gotten to know Mary & Julie.  A wonderful circle of creatives.  One cannot ask for anything more, nor feel more blest.

I am thankful and grateful for the experience and the wisdom imparted by this gifted women of the sisterhood.

Until next time, aspire to be more as an artist and a person.

Etched Sterling Cuff Bracelet
Photo Credit ~ Daniel Krucoff

Well, it’s almost here. Castle Rock Artfest. This Saturday and Sunday. Our weather is supposed to be nice and I’m ready. The car is packed with my displays. We set up today and bring our works on Saturday morning to complete our booth.

I worked on several new series for this show.  Over the past few months as I’ve been preparing for my fall schedule of events, I have had lots of thoughts on art.  I’ve had a chance to interact with many of my metalsmithing friends and colleagues.  I have this feeling that I’ve just started to scratch the surface of what I want to do and who I want to be as an artist.  It’s exciting and I’m looking forward to the roller coaster ride that is coming.

Why do we create?  What drives us?  I have loved working with my hands all my life.  I’ve mentioned that I was never one to color inside the lines and to a certain degree, I’m still that way.  I’ve read many blog posts about why artist make their art.  I’m left with the impression that those who truly love to create, love to make art in their medium, well….it is a passion.  A zest for life, creating something that is an expression of who they are, what they feel, and an extension of themselves.  I feel that passion in creating.  I get that passion as I work.  I need that passion in my life because it makes me feel alive, complete, whole.

I thought I would share a few of those new pieces that will debut at Castle Rock this weekend.  I hope they speak to their new collectors and will find their homes.  I hope they convey the passion that I feel about metalworking.

The Storm
Photo Credit ~ Daniel Krucoff

Until next time, aspire to be more as an artist and a person.

My Hallmark

How important do you think it is to the collectors of our work, our clients, to know that they are buying an authentic piece of art?  The real deal, no fakes, no imitations, but an original art work created by the artist.

I believe it’s very important to them.  I know it is to me and I’ve witnessed it in others.  Last year I knew a woman who had purchased a Michael Boyd ring at the silent auction at the Colorado Metalsmiths Conference.  It was the real thing….Michael was there, he donated several of his works, yet this ring didn’t have Michael’s Hallmark stamp.  It was very important to her that the ring have his Hallmark to confirm its authenticity and she asked Michael to mark the ring….to my knowledge he did and she’s one happy woman because she has added a Michael Boyd ring to her collection.  It’s authenticated by the Hallmark stamp, placed on the ring by Michael himself.

Last year I decided it was time to mark my works with my Hallmark, also known as the Maker’s Mark.  It is a way that jewelry artists use to show the authenticity of their work, that is, it is proof that we made the piece.  I had reached a point where I wanted to insure that anyone, who bought one of my pieces, would know by way of this mark that it was something that I made.

Painter’s sign their works.  Some glass artists sign their works by etching the glass, using a gold ink that can be fused on their fused works, or even using a paint that can be ‘baked’ to permanently to a piece of the glass that will comprise their work.  Sculptures have a mark.  The point is, artists have been using their ‘mark’ for centuries to show it is their work.

It’s a wonderful affirmation.

Initially I had been using the ‘K’ from a set of metal stamps, but that wasn’t truly distinctive in my mind.  As I continued with my work, I revised my logo and eventually came up with my current logo that you see pictured at the top of this post.  Once I had that, I knew I wanted to have that as my mark to show my clients that they were buying an original Kathleen Krucoff piece.

My Mark

This is how my Hallmark looks when stamped into the metal.  It’s a little hard to refute the Maker’s Mark.

I ordered mine from Microstamp.  They had the best price for custom stamps that I found.  All the instructions can be found on their website and I found them to be very responsive to inquiries.  They want to be sure you have a stamp that meets your specifications.

My Stamp

It is a very finely crafted stamp and I am very happy with it.  I have just registered my Hallmark with Art Guide Source as it is a service that aids in finding artists / metalsmiths when all a viewer has is the hallmark.  Seems like a good idea.

I’m curious.  How many of you sign your works?  If you are a metalwork artist, do you have a custom made stamp to make your mark?  For any of you, did your ‘mark’ go through an evolution until you came upon the one that was your true signature for your work?

Since I started using this hallmark a little over a year ago, it has given me a certain peace of mind.  I felt I was taking that extra step for my customers to show them that not only do I care about the craftsmanship in each of my pieces, but  I care enough to personalize the piece and assure them of its authenticity.  What are your thoughts on this?

Until next time, aspire to be more as an artist and a person.

Normally my Friday blog posts relate to Talkin’ Tools.  This week I wanted to start a new discussion covering my thoughts on art and the creative process.  I won’t abandon my Talkin’ Tools segments on Fridays, but I want to mix in something new by discussing Thoughts on Art.

As I sit here, writing this, my thoughts are of an online artist friend, Tracey Clarke.  While I have never met Tracey in person, she is my friend and I am blessed to know her.  A little over two weeks ago, Tracey had an onset of some symptoms which ultimately resulted in brain surgery to remove a cluster of 3 tumors.  Yesterday, 8/11/2011, she and her husband received the pathology report and prognosis.  Glioblastoma Multiforme.  It is an aggressive form of brain cancer and they have a long battle in front of them.  Her husband, Craig, has written about Tracey’s journey since the onset and I would encourage you to follow her journey and more importantly, include them in your prayers.

So now I think it is fitting to have my first post on Thoughts on Art to mention Tracey Clarke, a talented, gifted painter and her husband Craig.

Tracey’s encouragement helped me to apply for some shows and things I hadn’t planned on.  My work was published in a book because of a lead she provided.  And I am happy to own two of her original works…the one that is dearest to me is the portrait she completed this year of our Newt.

Tracey’s portrait of Newt, me and Newton in the ‘fur’

I have always believed that things happen for a reason.  I know that Tracey and Craig believe this too.  This daunting challenge they face has me wondering why?  Why has this happened?  The answer will be made known in time.

Until next time, aspire to be more as an artist and a person… never know what challenges life has in store for you.

Kathleen Krucoff

Artist and Metalsmith

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