After a 30-year career as a television news reporter and anchor, Kasey Kaufman picked up a paintbrush and discovered her new passion in life. With no formal training, her use of color in her preferred medium of acrylics has resulted in thoughtful and inspiring work. Now, she paints every day in her home studio. Her work is in demand and she has adopted what she calls a creative life. How did she adapt storytelling in television to storytelling on canvas? Find out in this fascinating episode of Type. Tune. Tint.
:00 (Music Up full, then under)
:05 (Kasey Sot, "Living a creative life is something that, I don't think it was a choice. It chose me, you know? That's just the way it is.")
(Music up full briefly, then under)
:18 Tom Kranz
That’s today’s guest, Kasey Kaufman, career journalist, television reporter and anchor who found her calling as an artist later in life. Having never picked up a paintbrush until exiting her TV news career, she has blossomed into an amazing and prolific artist whose work is in demand. It’s all about story-telling, only now she uses paint and canvas.
(Music up and out)
:40 Tom Kranz
So Kasey Kaufman joins me now from her, I don't know if it's an estate or not but let's call it your estate in Massachusetts, right?
Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, right outside of Boston, yes.
And Kasey and I have a little bit of history. We worked together at a TV station in Philadelphia 37 years ago. Sorry to bring up that number but yea, it's true. WCAU at the time it was the CBS-owned station in Philadelphia. Now it's owned by NBC. But Kasey was a reporter/anchor and I was an associate producer, later executive producer. And I think you--I left there in '91 and you left before that, I think, right?
1:15 Kasey Kaufman
I was only there for two years. I was there from, I think I left in '86, and I moved to Boston to work for WBZ-TV for 24 more years.
Right, right. So you were on TV in Boston. That's kind of your, that's your home town, more or less?
It is now. It has been since 1986.
And so, you know, some years of passed and as I was just saying to Kasey before I started rolling here, I was noodling around on my Facebook feed for some reason and somebody had posted a post of a post that had one of, a piece of art from somebody named Kasey Kaufman. And I said you know how many Kasey Kaufmans, K_A-U-F-M-A-N, could there be? And sure enough, it was you and it was a beautiful painting. I forget which one it was. And then you followed that up with the painting that was a tribute to the Ukrainian women, which was just striking and inspiring. And I guess, my first question is really a simple one. When did you start painting? Have you been painting since you were five or did you start that within the last few years?
2:25 Kasey Kaufman
So, I started four years ago, not even painting. I started sketching four years ago. And now I'm an artist and I paint every day. I sell my work in galleries online. It's insane. I never took an art class in my life. I am a self-taught artist.
And you started four years ago. So that means you started, you know, I'm just taking a wild guess that you're 60ish. So you started in your, you know, later in life, let's just say. Why? You know, you spent your life as a journalist telling stories with words and with pictures and on TV. Why was art, why was drawing--what drew you to drawing? (haha)
3:15 Kasey Kaufman
So really, it's all about telling stories, right? So instead of using the video camera or the spoken word, I use a different toolkit now if you will. But the answer is more of a dreamy answer. I always just loved art. I love looking at it. I love going to galleries. I love going to museums, I love buying art. But I never felt like I had permission to make art because I wasn't classically trained that was, you know, in my head. So about four years ago almost exactly, I went to a wedding in California, beautiful place, was in Carmel Valley, gorgeous inn, great art on the walls. I'm walking around with my husband. There's a studio of that artist and I walk in, and I'm like, this is so beautiful. I love your work. She's painting. And I'm like, are you a classically trained artist? And, and she's like, no way, you know like I'm a therapist and I was like facing retirement. I didn't want to golf. And so I took classes in intuitive art. I'm like, whoa, my brain explodes, I go home, I can't stop thinking about it, I call her and I go, you know, do you think I could take an intuitive art class? Do you know anybody in Boston? She called me back. She gave me the name of this person. To just cut to the chase, I am not cut out for intuitive art. I went to put on music, give me a paintbrush and said, dance, dance. And I'm like, this is too weird for me. And so I realized that what I was is somebody who might be an intuitive person, but preferred the fundamentals of art and I started with drawing with charcoal. I learn how to learn to see. I went into pastels, which I didn't like. And then about three and a half years ago, I started working in acrylic paint and I loved it. And worked a little bit with oils, some mixed media, but that's basically how I got into it.
5:19 Tom Kranz
You know, you said something that really has popped up in other interviews like this I've done with writers. You said you didn't think you had permission to do art or to be an artist. That's just so, that rings so true with so many of the people I've interviewed who felt the same way about writing, for example. And even Devin Alan, the young woman who I interviewed in my last podcast who discovered she could sing even though she never thought she could sing. Why is that? Why do we need permission to do, you know, to create and to just be who we think we are?
I love Devon's story about singing at a karaoke bar. I felt like, you know, it is a false narrative that you have to be classically trained what to be an artist, whatever that means. I mean, and it is just so unfortunate that we put that kind of, like, ridiculous barrier on ourselves. Is it so untrue? And it's, you know, it's just ridiculous.
For those of you out there, listening, who want to go interactive, if you go to kaseykaufmanart.com, you'll see a lot of Kasey's work on here and I, I don't want to say that they all have something in common because each piece is different. But the piece that I'm always drawn to, as I told you before we started rolling was this, the item--folks, go to where it says Paintings and then go to the one called Seascape and the very first one is this one that she calls Red Sail at Night. This one was, you posted this one on Instagram and got a lot of comments on it. I don't know if you ever sold this one or not, but this one keeps bringing me back because I guess the red sail just pops out and that it makes that little reflection on the glassy ocean and that dark, cyan sky and it just it starts making your imagination go. Where did you paint this? And why did--was that a real boat that you saw out there or did you just make this up out of nowhere?
7:23 Kasey Kaufman
So, I love that you love that and I have sold, I sold that one. I've also sold a number of other red sails and some yellow sailboats. They do resonate with people, I think. It isn't really an accurate depiction of a sailboat. My daughter just got engaged to a guy who is a sailor and competes and sailing. And, you know, he would be the first to say that doesn't even really look like a sailboat, but it feels like a sailboat or the dream of or the, you know, just, I don't know, I just love the architecture of that sail. I love the way the color works against the gray or the blue background. It really does speak to me as well and I'm glad that it spoke to you because I do love that peace.
Yeah, I'm looking at your still-lifes now, and you've got quite a few here. You've got flowers and vases. I really love, you did one of a paintbrush against this, this kind of yellowish orangey background. I said, okay, I can see why you picked that because it's a very textured kind of subject. You know, the little bristles, getting all those little ends must have taken forever, of the brush there. What makes you pick, is there anything special that makes you pick a certain subject, or do you just see something and say, hmm, I'm gonna do something with that?
8:41 Kasey Kaufman
Well, I'm a daily painter. So, I have this practice of daily painting. And when I started in the very beginning, I would just look at it as part of my creative journey that, you know, let me attack a paintbrush, you know, and just look at it, try to paint it. That involved into another still life. So, the practice of daily painting is fantastic because it forces you to really learn how to look at things. It's like anything. I don't know if it's a 10,000-hour role but you're gonna get better if you do something every day, whether it's playing a piano or doing a podcast. And I think that for me, I don't go down to my studio necessarily with a plan. I have a bunch of canvases going at once and I, you know, I just sort of go back and forth sometimes. Sometimes it's a very linear experience and I just, I'm like, okay, I'm gonna do this and I sit down and I do it. Other times, it's I'm gonna revisit this painting that I did two years ago or paint over this painting or whatever it is. But I do think that the practice of daily painting is, you know, really the cornerstone of my particular practice. I don't really have, like, there is no method to the madness. I paint the kinds of things that I would want to hang in my house. And if you're a daily painter, you have a lot of stuff. And I do have, you know, a studio in my home which is awesome. And there was an open studio this past weekend and everything is set up like it's a little gallery and it's, I can move everything around and it's kind of a very cool thing that it inspires me just being in the midst of it.
10:30 Tom Kranz
I'm interested in you saying that you paint things that you would want to look at and hang in your home. That's the way I write. I write things that I think I would want to read if I was a reader and I'm really not, you know, because I've written six books and I'm, I hate to say it, but I'm really not a reader. So, I tried to write from the point of view of somebody who reads kicking and screaming, you know. So, I try to write, you know, the way that I, I would want to read a book. One of the common threads in many of the other interviews I've done, mostly of writers but also of the singer that we mentioned, is a lot of the inspiration of artists and creative people comes from pain in their lives. Right? Some of the people I've interviewed they were bullied as kids. Some may have been abused, some may have been lonely, you know. In Devon's case, she wrote some songs based on a relationship that went bad. I don't see any sadness in your work. And based on what I know about you from the brief time we worked together, I always thought you were a pretty upbeat, positive person. You laughed a lot and you smiled a lot. And you didn't seem to have a lot of tales of woe. And I'm guessing that that's still the case, right? I mean, you seem to paint from a place of positivity and happiness.
Yes. I love it that you look at it that way. I think I do. I, you know, I'm a very fortunate person. So I don't have any tales of woe, except that there is a unifying feature here that if you look at my paintings and they are happy and they pop with color and, I think, joy. They are just a reaction, in many ways, to living under the Trump presidency. I was just being bombarded with horrible stories, you know, the fragile makeup of our democracy. I would come down to the studio and I can lose myself in joy. I am, you know, I'm not drawn to painting dark and, and, you know, intimate, you know, moments of angst and agita. I am about escaping that. So that's, you know, that's how it's started. I started during the time and I think, you know, a lot of my paintings are inspired by kind of real and imagined scenes of where I grew up. I grew up in Vermont and then I moved to La Jolla, California. So, I was on a lake and then on the ocean and I've loved the beauty of nature and our environment is so fragile. So I do try to capture that. But mostly I'm just drawn to, you know, expressing joy through color, I think.
13:12 Tom Kranz
I was just gonna say, it looks like that. I mean the joy of color just jumps out in every one of these paintings here. On your Vermont collection here, and this explains why you have some Vermont inspirations since you're from there, you have a bunch of pictures of barns here in these, these little--maybe it's the same barn, I'm looking at it in these little out houses. Is that is that a specific memory for you? Or is that just something that you dreamed one night or what is it about this building?
So, I come back to that lot and I don't know, I mean I think I dream in color sometimes and I wake up and I and I just sort of see like a combination of a magenta against a, some kind of a chartreuse tree with an explosion of violent flowers and it's not real. It's not unlike Wolf Kahn, a great artist who is drawn to Vermont landscape and uses technicolor to sort of express it. No, they just kind of bring me a very peaceful feeling it. I was probably a year into painting, not even barns in Vermont. I was in Stowe, Vermont and I was in this gallery and we're talking and the woman looked at my Instagram, which is @365Pears, which is maybe a better place in some ways than my website because it's every day I'm feeding it. And she's like, I'd love to sell your stuff. And I'm like, are you kidding me? I was, I was nauseated. It was like, sell it?? I couldn't believe it and it that was like, you know, you talk about self-doubt like it was how can I sell my stuff? It's like, I'm not even really an artist.
Yeah, but what a great, what a great feeling and what a great validation that somebody thinks so much of your stuff that they want to actually own it. You know, pass some of that southbound in New Jersey here!
It took to get there, honestly. It was like, oh my god, it's like giving up, these are like my children. I can't give this up and the woman's, like, you can go and paint some more, honey. But yes, Vermont is very, very special to me. And so is Bermuda. There's a big series of paintings that are in Bermuda. And the reflection of water on Southern California, lot of seascapes and swimming pools.
15:35 Tom Kranz
Does your former life in broadcasting inform your art in any way whatsoever?
I mean, you know storytelling is storytelling. And you know, you're only as good as, like, the whole edit process, you know? I'd go to you, and you'd be like this sucks rework it, right? You know, rework it. Revise it. Tweak. Listen carefully for the best soundbite. Look closely in painting for the best composition. I think my days as a journalist definitely informs my painting in that process in that I'm layer by layer by layer on--I'm looking for the moment and looking for the, you know, just the just that that shot that, you know, is gonna sort of define the piece or in this case like that brush stroke or that color. And yeah, I think it, I think it definitely is part of who I am and, and I, and I do think it continues to inform my work and I'm lucky that I had 30 years doing it. I'm glad I'm not doing it anymore.
Yea, tell me about it.
Yeah, I know I'm not the same.
Yeah, you know, the beautiful thing about--I finally left the business for real, for good in 2007, and the beauty of that was I was able to turn the TV off. I was able to turn the news off. What is your preferred medium in painting?
16:58 Kasey Kaufman
So my preferred medium is definitely acrylic. I am a fast artist and if I had to wait for oil to dry, I would be going out of my brain. And I am also a really messy artist and I can clean it up and it's, there's no toxicity. And, you know, there's sort of this, maybe, a myth that you have to be an oil painter to be a real artist. But you know, you look at Rothco. He used oils and acrylics and, you know, some of the great contemporary artists love working with acrylic. And I, I just find that it reflects light well, and it dries super fast. I can layer the hell out of it. I just think it's beautiful.
So you said you paint multiple items at the same time. You've got different projects going on, all at the same time?
I do non-linear in that sense and I kind of like that. I'm kind of impatient. Maybe that's definitely the journalist, right? We're just, our attention span is so limited. So it is really nice to have a couple of things going at once. I have a very big commission that I'm starting where I probably have, oh, 12 paintings that I'm doing for this collector, which is pretty amazing. And yeah, so I like kind of moving around and seeing what I feel like doing on any given day.
You know, I love stories of people who survive the news industry because I consider myself a survivor.
18:35 Kasey Kaufman
When I left TV for good, and it was the right time to do it, I decided that I wanted to cobble together a very creative life and I wrote a screenplay that almost like it was one of those like, unbelievable stories. It almost got made into a very big movie. But at the very last second, they pulled out because Disney had just signed to do a movie and it was a similar theme, a similar subject. Pitch Perfect was that genre. Mine was better than Pitch Perfect. That was great. And then I had a production company. I did a ton of videos for colleges and universities. I did a lot of videos for Berkeley College of Music and I love music. And so yeah. So I think living a creative life is something that, I don't think it was a choice. It chose me, you know? And that's, that's just the way it is.
I wish you nothing but continued success and beauty in your life. It looks like you have a lot of that going on. Once again, my guest has been Kasey Kaufman, a former TV reporter and anchor who has now found a new life as a really great, productive artist. Check out some of her work at KaseyKaufmanart.com and your Instagram page, which is--
Cool. Thanks. It was great to hook up with you again
Thanks a bunch for having me on.
Take care and be well.