From Our Editors
Barbara Kaufman created her first painting in 1980. It was in a process class where she sat in front of a blank sheet of paper and felt “A push. And this fear. And all this possibility and absolutely nothing at the same moment.” So she began scribbling, and something happened. “Something always happens,” she says. “That white paper never remains white.” It was an exhilarating feeling––an infectious feeling she hasn’t lost in more than 30 years as her paintings have accumulated and signposted her life as an artist, a teacher, a mother, and a cofounder of The CCE Painting Studio.
Barbara wasn’t born with a brush in her hand––she came to painting later in life––yet she'd carved a path straight toward it without realizing. She had nurtured a teacher's patience as a certified speech therapist, played with ingredients and recipes while running a vegetarian restaurant in Europe, and found the joy of a journey when hitchhiking to San Francisco. These seemingly disparate events form, as she describes, a relationship with creativity—with life—that focuses on the exploration rather than on the product. It’s a relationship that she carries into the studio, where she encourages students to play with their own creative energy rather than work with visual prompts or technical advice. In a talk she gave entitled “Stepping Into the Unknown” at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, she acknowledges that “the process doesn’t listen to me.” But then adds that the key to her unprocessed method is, in fact, “the letting go of control––the kicking and screaming.”
Since her first painting kicked and screamed its way onto a blank piece of paper in 1980, Barbara has helped “ignite the creative desires” of students from diverse stations in life. And above all else, her workshops are adventures, though without the typical treasure map and jetpack. Together, she and her students spend time exploring a life that is nothing but their own.