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Chopping Block: Buffy Kaufman

As a kid, I had knack for painting on EVERYTHING. Paper, walls, myself, my little sister's face, you name it, it was my canvas. Nothing was safe from my grubby finger-paint covered hands. I realize now that my poor parents didn’t know what to do with my excess “creative energy.” While researching the work of today's artist, Buffy Kaufman, I was happy to see an artist who not only creates captivating artwork, but has established a place for kids with just as much creative energy to express themselves freely. The self-taught Californian artist uses intriguing color choices and delicate technique to create endearing pieces that draw you in. Intrigued by her talent for the arts and interest in cultivating the same in children, I talked a bit with Buffy and learned a lot about the drive behind her works of art.

Buffy Kaufman

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POW: You've just launched your portfolio on our website. Out of all the artworks you’re constantly creating, how do you know which pieces are the exact ones you want featured?

Kaufman: The featured pieces are ones that have gotten a response from the audience and taken on a life of their own. Many people reach out explaining a childhood memory associated with the artwork, or a memorial aspect, reminding them of a lost loved one, or a more generalized response such as feeling happy when they view the artwork.

Trick or Treat by Buffy Kaufman

Trick or Treat by Buffy Kaufman

POW: You mentioned that you felt a call to action a few years back and began focusing on your art. Could you tell us a bit about this jolt of inspiration? How were things before it and how would you say your life has changed since then?

Kaufman: In prayer I felt a call to paint the Lord. The entire painting was done in one sitting, wet paint onto wet paper. I was amazed how so much of His image fell into place without me intending it to. I truly believe The Lord guided my hand on this painting and it was such a blessing to witness it all come together. In that moment I felt a pulling at my soul that I should share my art with the world, and give God all the glory for my artwork. This painting taught me the difference between painting in my own strength and painting in prayer. I had a calling and it is so hard to put into words. My life changed forever that day. I found a peace and joy in my art, it is my ministry, my refuge.

wonder sense by buffy kaufman

Wonder Sense by Buffy Kaufman

POW:  I read in your art story that you also have an interest in creative writing. Do the two activities ever cross paths for certain projects?

Kaufman: Yes, I enjoy creating back stories for the illustrations I prepare for the children. I am currently working on my first book, upon completion of the artwork I will embark on embellishing it with words. My hope is the artwork will be the focus and the story telling to be secondary. I also enjoy illustrating for album covers and other peoples books. I enjoy collaborating with other creatives and trying to bring their vision to fruition.

The Desolate King by Buffy Kaufman

The Desolate King by Buffy Kaufman

POW:  Telling by the programs on your website such as Art Club, there’s a lot of emphasis on encouraging children to create and keep creating. What ignited your interest to start up these programs?

Kaufman: I loved art as a kid and it was my dream to pursue it, but life was very complicated and took some very hard turns. Unfortunately, I took a downward spiral in my teenage years. I became more and more depressed and my drawings became my escape. Because of this, I was encouraged to take art therapy with a man named Thomas. Thomas made a lasting impression on me and planted a seed of purpose.  He helped me realize that my issues and problems were not my identity. I was a prodigal and the world nearly swallowed me, but by the grace of God and the seeds planted at an early age I found my way and carried on. I believe in paying it forward, I share my art with at risk youth in the community and Art Club as a way of planting that seed of creativity in these kids as well. Art can be a refuge, a safe place, a reminder of the good inside of us. Life can strip us of so much, but knowing that we are loved and believed in, that can carry you through dark times. I pray that I can inspire children to express themselves through art and, like Thomas, plant a seed of purpose for them that they can pull on from years to come.

Brownie by Buffy Kaufman

Brownie by Buffy Kaufman

POW:  One thing I found extremely unique while checking out the programs was the mentorship. For children who don’t simply “color inside the lines,” I think it’s awesome to identify an inclination for the arts at an early age and tap into it. What would you say a successful mentorship would entail?

Kaufman: In 2009, while serving in the community as a child mentor, I began sketching for a girl named Abby. Art bridged a gap between Abby and I. It was a way for her to express herself. It gave her a voice. I believe it is not so much what you say or teach as how much you listen and lead by example. Children can sense when you care and when you are genuine. Art mentoring is a great way to pass on information and lessons you have learned. For example, you can save an up and coming artist a lot of time and effort by helping them sort out the basics of getting started, and setting up good work habits early on. But the same can be said in life lessons, creating a trusting relationship is key.
Foxhole by Buffy Kaufman

Foxhole by Buffy Kaufman

POW:  Theo the Bear makes pretty frequent appearances on your Instagram page. How was he born into existence? Does the loveable character have a bit of a background story?

Kaufman: Floating down the river with my husband, laying in the sun, listening to country music we dreamt up the idea to tell a good ole fashioned country love story. We thought teddy bears would be a cute and creative way to keep the love story sweet. We dreamt up Theo as a teddy bear that came to life in my art studio. He, Theo, was so lonely he prayed for a country girl to love. While waiting on the Lord, he met Violet and realized that timing is everything. Each illustration tells another part of their love story. My hope is to one day publish this story, but just like the moral of the story, “Timing is everything” so I pray and wait on the Lord.

frozen by buffy kaufman

Frozen by Buffy Kaufman

POW:  Undoubtedly, many of your students are constantly learning from you. But in turn, is there anything you’ve learned from your students that you found interesting?

Kaufman: To follow your dreams. Mine had been shelved too long. Life was busy, I had kids to raise, a 9-5 job and bills to pay. But thanks to these children I was inspired to reunite with the joy I had as a kid through art. These children constantly push me, encourage me, and inquire of me about my art and what I am doing with it. Their questions are limitless and have a no-holds-barred attitude, which I love. Their belief in me is outstanding and it pushes me past my own limits to reach out higher & farther than I would ever have done on my own. There is no way to quantify what they have taught me over the years, it is endless. Out of the mouth of babes come pure words, honest words, if only more people would bend down and listen.

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For more information on Buffy Kaufman, please visit: http://www.buffykaufmanart.com/