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The Grand Tetons at Snake River
Photo by Daniel Krucoff

March’s topic for the Blog-o-Sphere Think Tank covers the topic of what photo or image inspires you?

Being at The Grand Tetons has always served as a place were I can meditate, reflect and just find tranquility.  There are so many awe inspiring vistas there that is is hard to pick just one.  Yet, this view of the Grand Tetons, is my favorite.

Dan took this photo during our last visit there in October of 2008.  Hard to believe it’s been that long since we’ve been back.  As is my custom, I will sketch, take my own photos or just relax as he’s setting up to take his landscape photographs.  On this particular day, the temperature was perfect, the sun felt great and I just gazed at his subject matter.  Those rugged shapes that form that beautiful set of mountains.  I was completely relaxed soaking in that breathtaking view.  You know when you have that feeling that there are a pair of eyes watching you?  Well, as I turned to look in Dan’s direction, he snapped this photo of me.

It was a wonderful day and trip.  Probably the best fall colors we’ve seen there too.

I’ve been so inspired by The Tetons that I created this stained glass window that hangs in our home.  I’m thinking it’s time to create some more stained glass windows!!!

The Grand Tetons in Stained Glass by Kathleen Krucoff

For me, it’s a very special and inspirational place.  I hope that Dan & I will travel to The Grand Tetons and Yellowstone again in the near future.  It holds unlimited inspirations for me.

Let’s see what my fellow blog-o-spere think tank members had to say about this topic:

Andes cruz:
Thomasin Durgin:
pencilfox: or
Renée Dolling:
Shannon Bet You Forgot About Me Koochin:
Beth Cyr:
Kathryn Cole

Until next time, 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.

Serenity Speaks
Soul Searching Series
Photo Credit ~ Daniel Krucoff

A beautiful Tiffany Stone, purchased from Gary B Wilson at the 2009 Denver Gem & Mineral Show.  This was one of my purple indulgences from the Denver shows.  I am totally drawn to Tiffany Stones.  They can vary so much in colors, dark intense purple to almost white with slight touches of pale lavender and some hints of rust thrown in.  Beautiful stones.

My goal with this piece was to simply showcase the stone.  I didn’t want to add too much to the setting and distract ones’ eye from viewing the inherent beauty of this stone.  I think I achieved that goal and added some interest with the curved shape of the setting.

The piece is set in sterling silver and I soldered half-round sections of sterling wire in place at the top and bottom of the setting to help enhance framing this stone.

The stone itself has another scene that I can visualize in it.  I can see gentle mountains on either side of an river flowing into a larger body of water in the distance.  Another stone that reminds me of scenery from the hiking trails Dan & I have enjoyed at The Tetons.  The sky has some high white and purple clouds.  Very serene.  As I looked at this piece this morning, I felt a calm….a sense of serenity.  So I call this piece Serenity Speaks.  It’s part of my Soul Searching Series.

Of course, I think Dan’s photograph helps to enhance the beauty of the pendant.  We’ve been collaborating on various backgrounds to make the photographs pop and maybe become a little bit edgy or different.  I thank Dan again for another great photo of my work.

Please let me know what you think of this piece.  I always enjoy reading the wide range of thoughts and insights you have and are willing to share with me.  And Dan enjoys the feedback on his photos too!  Thanks.

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

Kathleen Krucoff

Artist and Metalsmith

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