Monday, November 26, 2018

A Life To Outlive Me

"The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it."
~ William James ~

As a result of my current mental health challenges (as well as my growing disdain for the rampant excessive consumerism everywhere lately it seems), I am transitioning away from actively marketing most of my framed works for sale. I believe we all want to leave our personal mark on the world in some way, and I'm increasingly finding myself drawn away from the noise of the marketplace in order to focus on discovering a quieter and more personally meaningful purpose for my life as an artist that will outlive me. 

"Live Like You Mean It"
© 2018 Tammy Kaufman
11" x 14" soft pastel on Pastelmat
*This painting is not available.*

I continue steadfast in my belief that the true meaning of life is measured not in what possessions we have, but in what actions we take to support, encourage and protect the more vulnerable among us. Working to save our environment and animals in need remains particularly dear to my heart and an important part of who I am. Therefore, a limited number of my available unframed works are now offered for free as a thank you for donating to my supported charities, and I welcome inquiries about this (this offer is limited to those who can pick up the paintings in the local Wake Forest area, as I simply cannot afford to pay for shipping costs in addition to giving the works away as free gifts).

"Bee Honest and True"
© 2018 Tammy Kaufman
9" x 6" soft pastel on Canson Mi-Tientes

My paintings are inspired by nature, and my hope is that receiving them as a free thank you gift for donating to my preferred charities will serve as a perpetual reminder of the support you've given to our natural world and the beautiful creatures who inhabit it.

"Pursuing Impossibilities"
© 2018 Tammy Kaufman
6" x 8" soft pastel on Pastel Premier

The charities I support generally list on their websites suggested donation amounts specific to their needs, but any amount to these very worthy organizations is much appreciated.

"Sonata in Scarlet"
© 2018 Tammy Kaufman
9.5" x 6.25" soft pastel on Sennelier La Carte Pastel Card
*This painting has already found a home.*

All my works may be viewed online here or may be seen in person at my home studio on a limited basis by appointment. Disclaimer - Please note not all works in the online galleries are available; I welcome your inquiry if there is a specific painting in which you are interested for the charity initiative.

"Treasure Island Dreaming"
© 2018 Tammy Kaufman
5" x 7" soft pastel on UArt 320
*This painting has already found a home.*

I do still also have several framed paintings available for sale at the Main Gallery of the Kirby Cultural Arts Complex, 213 North Main Street in Roxboro, in the back room of the Main Gallery. Hours are Tuesday - Friday 1-5 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

"Woodland Gleaming"
© 2018 Tammy Kaufman
9" x 12" soft pastel on Strathmore Artagain

I will continue to offer many of my unframed works available for sale, with profits donated to the charities I support as noted above. Please contact me to see these paintings in person, or they may be viewed via my online galleries. Please note, not all paintings in these galleries are available, and I make every effort to note those in their descriptions. Also, I try to photograph my paintings as accurately as possible but I cannot guarantee exact color match as monitors vary, and keep in mind there may be backlighting on your monitor that is not present in the actual painting, depending on the device you use to view the images.

"A Life Imagined"
© 2018 Tammy Kaufman
6.25" x 9.5" soft pastel on Sennelier La Carte Pastel Card

I am pleased to report that every single charity on my list has already received significant donations this year. I'm forever grateful to everyone who has enabled me to use my artwork as a means of financially supporting these worthy causes, and look forward to continuing to support them for years to come.

"Beelieve in the Rhythms of Nature"
© 2018 Tammy Kaufman
6" x 6" alcohol ink on tile
*This painting has already found a home.*

"Because when you get down to it, what we do has actual substance and meaning in a way that most people never engage with.  So for that alone, be proud of yourself - that despite the overwhelming tide of life -- you are still creating.  You are literally doing the impossible."
~ Jessica Prior ~

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Little Things Matter

"I'm disappearing, avoiding most things."
~ Roger Keith "Syd" Barrett ~

Too often lately I feel overwhelmed by, well, almost everything socially. Social media in particular seems overcrowded with sellers of all stripes clamoring to scream over each other as they try more and more to grab the attention of any buyers so that it's just all an intolerable cacophony of "buy my stuff!", "the holidays are coming!", "sale!", "special deal!", etc. Everyone pushing to do and be more, more, more and bigger, bigger, bigger than the rest, with an endless barrage of sales pitches and trying to loom larger than the competition. In the midst of all this tumult, I find myself in desperate need of retreat from the noise, so have been seeking refuge in the infinite beauty of the minuscule, the unnoticed, the smallest things so often overlooked and ignored. 

"An unnoticed corner of the world suddenly becomes noticed, and when you notice something clearly and see it vividly, it becomes sacred."
~ Allen Ginsberg ~

"The Sky's The Limit" Series
© 2018 Tammy Kaufman
1.5" x 3" soft pastel micro-minis on Pastelmat

Creating tiny paintings is a painstaking and meticulous task, but one in which I'm discovering a unique sense of tranquility and respite. It's my way of metaphorically honoring the smallest and least among us.

"It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important."
~ Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ~

"Hope Blooms" Series
© 2018 Tammy Kaufman
1.5" x 3" soft pastel micro-minis on Pastelmat

So I've been working on a few series of these tiny paintings as a form of my own personal miniature-therapy as well as showing my respect for the minimized and marginalized, pushed out of the way by the seemingly never-ending quest of the masses for more and bigger (but not necessarily better to my way of thinking).

"When you do something beautiful and nobody noticed, do not be sad. For the sun, every morning is a beautiful spectacle and yet most of the audience still sleeps."
~ John Lennon ~

"Not All Who Wander Are Lost" Series
© 2018 Tammy Kaufman
1.5" x 3" soft pastel micro-minis on Pastelmat

Thus far I've found painting these micro-minis remarkably helpful in offering sanctuary from this current emotional storm and look forward to continuing this process and discovering where it may lead.

"Living In Freefall" Series
© 2018 Tammy Kaufman
1.5" x 3" soft pastel micro-minis on Pastelmat

"Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does." ~ William James

"Fairy Tales" Series
© 2018 Tammy Kaufman
2" x 2" Acrylic on canvas

"I think of me being a painter eventually."
~ Roger Keith "Syd" Barrett ~

Wednesday, October 10, 2018


"And I'm not anything that you think I am anyway."
~ Roger Keith "Syd" Barrett ~

"Pipers at the Gate"
© 2018 Tammy Kaufman
9" x 12" soft pastel on Richeson Premium

Despite the scary potential of facing the continued stigma that far too many still have toward those with mental illness, I’ve come to realize that openly acknowledging my own battle with it is a solid step toward healing, especially since becoming an artist has been an invaluable part of that healing process, along with having found a qualified therapist locally. This has given me a bit of courage to publicly recognize my mental health challenges and if you are struggling yourself, may my 'coming out' as mentally ill let you know that you are not alone. As I’ve progressed along this meandering artistic path as it crisscrosses with my mental health challenges, I’m finding that my own response to my artworks is changing. My paintings and sketches are generally feeling less like marketable commodities and more like a means of simply expressing the emotions evoked by the various scenes I’ve seen in person that made me want to paint them in the first place. This has been an interesting transformation, since even though I've had some sporadic success at selling works despite always having been my own harshest critic, I now find myself back to the stance of retreating from the sales and marketing aspects of being an "artist". In any event, hopefully this pulling back from the stresses of trying to sell my work will provide a source of refuge for me in this mental illness storm.

"I Dreamed of Paradise"
© 2018 Tammy Kaufman
12" x 9" soft pastel on Art Spectrum Colourfix

Although I’ve been fortunate to have sold some paintings over the past few years and I’m eternally thankful for the collectors who've accepted my paintings into their lives and homes, I’m increasingly finding myself needing to retreat from the space of marketing and sales. However, the works I currently have available for sale in galleries will remain there through the end of this year or until sold, whichever comes first. Though giving up the marketing/selling thing certainly provides me no financial benefit, it is freeing from the perspective of not having to worry about how others view my artwork and whether it "measures up" to the expectations of others. Mental illness makes it difficult enough just to exist and function at all some days, without having to stress about what others think of me or my paintings or worrying about trying to sell. So being able to just paint what I want, when I want, and use that as a source of emotional sanctuary without worrying about what will sell or navigating the marketing tangle is much more beneficial to my mental state. The profits from any occasional works I may happen to sell will still go to charity, and I will continue to give some selected artworks away in exchange for direct charity donations should anyone express an interest in that. But at the present time I need the chance to just enjoy a painting that I think happens to turn out particularly well by hanging that painting in my own home where I can look at it any time I'm feeling low, instead of experiencing pressure to offer everything for sale in order to make myself feel like a legitimate artist or human being. Keeping those more personally meaningful and successful works in my home or office frequently serves as a reminder that my mind isn’t always lost in the weeds.

"Lost in Wonderland"
© 2018 Tammy Kaufman
9" x 12" soft pastel on Art Spectrum Colourfix

So, while I may still offer a few of my works for sale at reasonable prices (I believe original art is for anyone who truly appreciates it, not just the wealthy) and will also continue to make some of them available for nothing more than a donation to one of my supported charities, I’ve decided to primarily use my artwork as a means of helping me navigate this mental illness at the present time. I’m not going to worry about selling anymore but am focusing predominantly now on finding emotional sanctuary by painting the places and things I love and letting them surround and support me with some sense of personal success. I long for the day that mental disorders will no longer be stigmatized but viewed in the same compassionate light as any other serious physical disease - the brain is, after all, part of the body. Nevertheless, it’s a long slow process struggling to try and find the light from the depths of mental illness, but somehow (sometimes) I’m hopeful…

"Verdant Symphony"
© 2018 Tammy Kaufman
9" x 12" soft pastel on UArt 500

"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be."
~ Douglas Adams ~

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Sharing My Voice

It was an absolute thrill to have the editor of 27587 Magazine contact me and ask for an interview late last year. I was honored to have the opportunity to share my thoughts on art and the experiences - both positive and negative - that shaped my choices of medium and subject matter, the deep emotional response our beautiful natural world inspires in me, the role endurance mountain biking played in my becoming an artist at all, and my dedicated and steadfast policy of donating all profits from the sales of all my works to nonprofit environmental and animal rescue charities. The interview article is featured in the Winter 2018 issue, and I hope it provides a little insight into the artist I am currently, what inspires and moves me to paint, the joy I feel sharing the work of my heart with all of you, and the artist I hope to more fully become.

27587 Magazine is a fabulous glossy publication focused on Wake Forest and the surrounding area, and is available at a variety of locations locally. But for those not in the Wake Forest area, I'm delighted to share that the issue containing the article about my work is now available online. Thank you to the editor/writer and photographer from 27587 Magazine for this opportunity to share my vision and my voice.

I encourage you to visit the website for this wonderful magazine, as there are many interesting and worthwhile articles contained therein, but I've also attached a scan of my interview.

Note: For easier reading, you can click on each page individually and then use the magnifying glass icon to enlarge. :-)

Friday, January 5, 2018

Seeing and Being Seen

I only had to think about the question for a few seconds before I was able to answer "Yes, even if I knew my paintings would never be seen by anyone, I would still continue to paint". The desire to capture on paper all those wondrous emotions evoked in me by our natural world is overwhelming, stemming from being able to spend so much time out in nature, from learning to ride horses before I could walk to then later in life my years as an endurance mountain biker competing in 24-hour events. As an endurance cyclist in particular, having that opportunity to witness the intricacies of our landscape throughout all hours of the day and night gave me an unparalleled opportunity to commune with Nature and see her in every light, shadow and season. And even though my competitive cycling days are now behind me, I am forever grateful to still feel that connection with the natural world.

© Tammy Kaufman - "Illumination of Solitude"
All that being said, in getting back to the question at hand - would you continue to paint even if you knew your works would never be seen by anyone? - despite my "yes" answer, the fact remains that as an artist I'm not too bashful to admit I do want my paintings to be seen. Although my works are created from my own heart and my own response to the natural world, I still believe art should be shared, and based on how many artworks I see on social media from other artists, I'm not alone in that! I'm fortunate to be the studio artist in the Studio B Gallery at Ollie's Cafe & Gifts in Wake Forest where a very large selection of my works will be available and on display all year for 2018. However, as a (perhaps excessively) prolific painter who admittedly can be a little obsessive about painting almost every day, despite that studio currently being home to over a hundred of my works, I still have literally dozens upon dozens of paintings at home waiting for their chance to be seen!

I honestly did not realize just how many works I had until I decided to organize them recently. The dozens of larger and odd-sized smaller ones I put in clear photo bags in a print rack with the overflow in a large box underneath (yes, there are that many!), but that still left over a hundred more in standard 8 x 10 and 9 x 12 sizes that ended up going into portfolio style notebooks. It may sound egotistical, but I almost felt sad putting them into storage; I believe it's more because I don't want the magic I felt recreating those scenes in pastel to be hidden forever just yet. So I made myself a promise to at least periodically flip through those books, boxes and racks myself as a personal reminder of the earth's beauty that so moved me to paint it.

I will be periodically changing out my works at Ollie's, but painting as often as I do - nearly every day - means I will always have more works than I have space to show them and not all will have the opportunity to be framed and displayed, not to mention the fact I simply cannot afford to do that for all of them as there are just so many. Some of these may at some point in the future be recycled. I've already discarded hundreds of old works as I have limited storage space. However, I do like to keep newer ones around for a bit before making any permanent decisions on recycling. In the meantime, I'd like to invite anyone who is interested in browsing through these unframed stored works to contact me ( or 919.215.5241) if you'd like to see them in person. My apologies if this all sounds braggadocious, but some of these works I feel successfully captured the emotion of a place yet space and cost limitations mean I have to curate much like a juror at a show what I can realistically frame and display at the gallery, even though I still would be honored to have others see them.

So what about you? Would you still paint even if you knew your works would never be seen? Do you feel art is meant to be shared, even works that are perhaps only personally meaningful to you - and are you sure those wouldn't be meaningful to someone else as well? Do you have works you'd like others to see but you have to store them away rather than display them for whatever reason? If so, do you at least look at them from time to time or have you thought of ways to get them seen? I'm interested in hearing your thoughts, and would love to have you leave a comment!