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benchtoppieces

Every day is a new beginning, a fresh start, a chance for growth and unexpected opportunities. I want to encourage you to embrace each day with all the possibilities it holds for you. Please don’t limit yourself to the mindset that at the start of a new year, you have the chance to effect change in your life because you can take positive steps every single day!

I want to share something I recently read from Dr Wayne Dyer’s A New Way of Thinking, a New Way of Being.

Waste no opportunities. This is called following the light.

Several years ago when I was just starting my journey as a metalsmith, I attended one of the Colorado Metalsmith’s conferences. I wasn’t completely sure why I should attend the conference, but it was an opportunity for me to hear some prominent artists. One of the conference speakers was an extremely gifted metalsmith, Judith Kaufman. I was in awe of her work, her talent and her process. I still am.

kaufmanatconference

Judith shared how she got started. She was only 13 or 14, and she recalled how she used to sit at the bench and just play with putting components together. I was in awe. How could she do that and come up with such gorgeous creations? At that time, I was still dutifully sketching my designs, too afraid to try anything without a design. Hindsight is 20/20 and now I realized I was frozen by my own fear.

I listened, took some photos of her speaking and others of the slides she used in her presentation. She shared the quote by Isamu Noguchi in the picture above. It puzzled me. Again, I had self-imposed constraints on my art and was limiting my potential to create what was really in my soul. Now I get it. It takes time. Some grow faster than others. That’s ok, remember….a new day, another opportunity for growth!

So 2017 has arrived. Toward the last week of 2016, I was sitting at my bench, playing with components I had made. I was putting pieces together without designs in mind; check out the photo of my bench block at the top of this post. Initially, I wasn’t really aware of what I was doing. All of a sudden it hit me. How freeing and exhilarating. And then I remembered this is what Judith did and continues to do. Ok, that’s brilliant. Oh yes, and so much fun to play during the act of creating something beautiful….child-like in some ways.

I believe I’m following the light. It’s such a rush. Just let the creativity flow. That’s why it’s so important to just spend 5 minutes a day in your studio. Those 5 minutes can turn into something truly magical in what you are called to create.

Yes it’s a new year. Remember this, every day you wake, you are given a new opportunity to bring about positive change in your life. Please don’t limit yourself. Let go of that fear. Follow the light. Live!

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

Continuing with my random thoughts about what I experienced at the Colorado Metalsmtihing Conference, this one came to the forefront more than once.  Do you think like an artist?

Part of me feels like my answer to this is, no, not yet.  However, I know that I do think like an artist, just not to the extent that our presenters do.  From my perspective, doing a bit of self-evaluation, I do not feel that I am fully engaged in thinking like an artist every day.  After this conference, I want to….I need to think more like an artist every single day!

Perhaps it is because I am pretty equally balanced with the whole right brain (creative) / left brain (logical) thinking process.  I consistently land smack dab in the middle any time I take one of those tests that evaluate which side of the brain dominates your thought process.  I’m sure that is why I am fairly comfortable switching gears from being a geek by day (left brain thinking) to being an artist by night (right brain thinking).

Yet now I have this awareness, an insight into an area I want to address to become a better artist.  That enlightenment came with the first presenter at the conference, Judith Kaufman.


Judith Kaufman

When Judith was 13, her mother signed her up for some metalsmithing classes and from that point on, she was hooked.  She spent almost every free moment in their basement, working on things, refining her technique and how she created her designs.

Judith doesn’t sketch; she doesn’t draw her designs.  As a matter of fact, she said she doesn’t draw well.  I found that very interesting and bit reassuring, because I don’t feel like I draw well either, yet I do sketch things out.  Ever since I started metalwork, I have felt the need to have a clear path of what I wanted to do before I started to work on a piece.  Perhaps that is the logical part of my mind, satisfying the need to have that clear direction. Yet, this isn’t the way Judith works and as she showed us how she approaches her work, I had one of my many ah ha moments.  I realized that she thinks like an artist all the time!  Well, of course she does.

On her workbench, she lays out a variety of gem stones, previously assembled bits and pieces and just searches through them until one of them speaks to her.  She will pull that one out and start looking for something to pair with it.  So the process continues until she has her next work in front of her.  As she said, she doesn’t sketch but she does sort through the myriad of shapes, colors and textures until she finds the right matches and off she goes to make something breathtakingly stunning.  That spoke volumes to me about thinking like an artist.

She commented that as she looks at a completed piece, she could trace back to where the inspiration came from.  When she would see something, it was some how tucked away in her subconscious and would manifest itself in these creations as she searched through her table top of treasures.  Unconsciously, she was searching for the right components to replicate something she has seen.  She said, find beauty in the mundane.  Interesting concept, right?  Once a piece was completed, it took her back to that thing that had inspired it.  She provided this quote that pretty much sums up that principle:

She showed photos of things that inspired her pieces, one came from rain drops, another from some tree branches.  Now I didn’t think any of these things were mundane, but I guess for some they are.  As she discussed these things, I realized how much I need to exercise the right side of my brain to think more like an artist.  Be open every day to taking things into your mind and appreciate the small details of beauty that exist in the most common things you see.  I think it takes practice, but I want to do that every day until it is ingrained into the way I process information.

Judith Post Presentation

This way of viewing the world reminds me of some of the vacations Dan & I have taken to some of our National Parks like Bryce, Zion, Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons.  People would rush from their cars, snap a couple of pictures of a breathtaking waterfall or magnificent mountain and then scurry back to their car to quickly head off to another place.  They would spend less than 5 minutes in some of the most spectacular places.  Why bother to make the trip at all?

For Dan & I, our approach is to linger…take it all in.  You just traveled hundreds of miles, spend some time to see the vistas, experience nature.  Cameras in hand, we would hike, drinking in as many aspects of the scenery as we could.  Large and small scale.  Truly “taking time to smell the roses”.  Savor that dew covered leaf, the mist from the tremendous force of a waterfall, stop and watch a moose in a pond…knowing full well that she was aware of us, but allowed us the honor of watching her in her element.  Slow down, take life in and now, more so than ever before, I want to convey those things in my work.  Think like an artist.

As I reflect on this, I am realizing that I do think like an artist more than I thought.  Perhaps these artistic Olympians at our conference have just put the spotlight on my need to be even more artistic.

To be continued…..

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

the 2011 Colorado Metalsmithing Association’s (CoMA) Conference.

This past weekend I attended the annual CoMA Conference, which is held at the Steamplant in downtown Salida, Colorado.  It is one of the few places we have found that will allow open flames from the torches used in metalwork.  The weather was hot as usual and this was my second time to attend the conference since joining the organization 2 1/2 years ago.

Lexi and I were conference buddies again.  There’s nothing better than sharing these experiences with your sister/best friend.


Left to right: Avi Good, Hoss Haley, Tom Muir & Michael Zobel (Judith had another commitment)

The speakers we had this year were Michael Zobel, Judith Kaufman, Tom Muir, Hoss Haley, and Avi Good (Michael Good’s daughter).  Each one brought something unique to the table.  I know, duh, why else would they have been invited to speak?  I guess what I wasn’t prepared for was the profound impact these artists would have on me as they spoke.  While Avi isn’t an artist, she knows the business side of things and she is one of the most delightful people I have ever met.

That is just one of the great things about the CoMA conference….everyone is so approachable.  These super stars of the metalsmithing world are just regular people and don’t have body guards to keep the crowds at bay.  I was able to speak to each one on an individual basis, thank them for coming and their insights.  How awesome is that?

For me, this year’s conference was even more intense than what I experienced last year.  Today my mind is swimming with thoughts, overflowing if you will.  It feels like my brain has reached full capacity with all the sights and sounds I took  in… so much so that I don’t think one more drop of creative stimulus could be handled until I have time to digest, percolate, sort, and process the vast amounts of sensory overload I experienced.  Am I feeling a bit overwhelmed? Yes, but that’s a good thing!  😀

I’m trying to put all the parts and pieces of this experience together so it’s not so chaotic in my mind. Today I thought it was very important to write about my experiences here, because my blog is my metalsmithing journal.  The process of assessing my thoughts in writing should help put things in perspective.  I may do several posts as my thoughts gel and I’m able to elaborate on the key points.

Hopefully that helps to explain why I titled this post Random Thoughts About…. because right now I have so many random thoughts about what I experienced at this conference that I just don’t know where to begin.

I will tell you that Saturday night was magical.  I’m serious as a heart attack about that point.  A small group of us was invited to Harold O’Connor’s studio to listen to his thoughts about art, see where he creates and even ask questions.  It was a very special evening and such an honor to be included in the group of invitees.  Harold has such great talent, skill and knowledge; classically trained in Europe.  What an invaluable opportunity to listen to someone who has accomplished so much throughout his lifetime.  It is something I will always treasure.  As he spoke about his work and the concept of art, I knew I had to look at what I do as an artist from a completely new perspective.  It shook me to the core…the realization of where I am as an artist and where I want to be.  He invited our questions and answered each one.  To listen to him talking about a range of topics in his studio, well, that was a purely magical evening for me.

For now, I’ll leave this as a to be continued… as I work on getting some perspective on the impact the conference and its surrounding events had on me.

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

Kathleen Krucoff


Artist and Metalsmith

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