Monday, 17 March 2008

Art versus Craft

I mentioned in my last post that I had been contemplating why I had forsaken painting/drawing for collage and altered art............. I am going to try and explain some of my conclusions here.

I do this without casting any aspersions about either one or the other in terms of skill or kudos. as far as I am concerned fine art is no more deserving of any special place in the pantheon of artisitic endeavours than artistic crafting if I can use that term. And I use the term only for simplicity, don't ask me to define it. However I do recognise that there are some differences and my purpose here is to compare my own thoughts on drawing/painting ( which for convenience I shall refer to as painting) and collage/altered art ( which I shall refer to as collage). I hope that no one will take offence, as none is intended.

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This is a fairly recent pastel sketch (A4, I do love the black paper) the question for me here is , " why have I not been doing much painting recently?"
I guess I have always found it difficult to decide on a subject ( scroll for several entries on sketching)and I have written in the past about how I enjoy sketching. Often using quite small sketches to explore subjects from the point of view of colour and composition. This is one reason why I took to aceo paintings so quickly when I first discovered them.

I do seem however to have lost this "skill", I never seem to have time now to sit and sketch meaningfully. When I paint I seem to launch into a subject before I have fully explored it. this often means that I am less than satisfied with the final outcome.

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This is a fairly recent water colour abstract ( approx 10x8 inch, my first choice of media) and this is another reason for the lack of sketching. Nearly always I will paint an abstract in one go, straight off. There are time when I do sketch the ideas first as for canvasses for a recent exhibition but this is probably an exception. here it was because of the time constraint and the fact that I wanted to do a series.

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This was my very first aceo ( which incidentally sold on ebay) and was done from a photograph. Many of my aceo's were, although not all by any means. But I think this is where the "rot" set in. I started doing small paintings rather than sketches and expected to get a saleable product from each one. I did well at first but seemed to run into a period when my painting just dried up. I was painting to sell rather than painting for myself . All the enjoyment seemed to have drained out of the action of creating a painting. I have found it again on odd ocassions but lost my appetite for art until I found collage.

This corresponded with coming across web site giving a means of swapping and finding a stash of old family photographs dating back to my grandparents' early married life. I made my first collaged ATC using photos from this stash.

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This is actually three of my mother's brothers, they went to the three different services during WW2. I was hooked and have been trying out and trying to learn new techniques ever since. One of the reasons is the swapping ( I have written about this before on this blog) but I feel that by collecting items and spreading them out to select bits and pieces to use and being able to move and rearrange them before finally glueing them in place, I have found some of the fun of my early sketching. The excitement from this and the subsequent fun of swapping has made creating art fun again for me.
But I do want to paint.... so bearing this in mind I have invested in a pocket sketch book and will be filling up pages regularly. Perhaps I will post the results regularly to let you see how I am getting on. Of course I will keep on collaging, now that I have found it I can't see any going back. Both aspects will have to co-exist!
All the photos here have been posted before and if you would like to see more then the posts on here and in my previous blog on freewebs are still available.
Here's looking to a creative future....



I agree with practically everything that you have said here John. The conflict between painting and collage,(have you tried combining the two) painting for other people, (something i seem to have always done), and the good old sketch book. I missed mine so much, and soo glad to have invested in a new one.

Good luck with your work

Artyfax said...

I do miss my painting but I have come to enjoy collage tremendously. Now collaging on a painting or painting on a collage..... mmm! Of course I have collaged onto a painted background but I guess you have something more in mind. Must think about that.

Linda said...

Hi John,

Isn't painting/drawing on black paper yummy? I use my black journal quiet often and I love it.

I wanted to thank you for visiting my blog and wishing me well during my eye surgery. I appreciate it.

I also wanted to send you some of the Punchinella I bought and I need your address. If you'd like some (and I have three different types) email me your address and I'll get some out to you. Send it to:
pasfan2000 at

By the way, I don't think art can be defined as simply as painting and craft as collage. I believe it has more to do with the ability to be creative and original and well done. I think your collage is very artistic but if *you* don't believe your collage is art, try using your own images/photographs rather than some from another source.

Artyfax said...

Thanks for your comments Linda, I think I said that I only used the term art and craft in the post for convenience I don't have any issue with the relative merits, for me they are equally valuable.
Most of my non-painting art work is collage or "altered art" and I used the term 'craft' here to separate the two skill sets or however they may be defined.

I think it is simply that I feel by not drawing (or sketching )regularly I am losing the ability to represent what I see on paper. I said I will be continuing with both.

Thanks again, John

Jinny said...

I only used to do watercolours,did those for a few years, then I tried acrylics-loved those,then I did encaustic fell in love with that and then tried my hand at cardmaking,scrapbooking and as of late, the altered arts-I found that hard at first but loving the domino's.........But I do find that I can blend all these arts/craft together...I can then justify having al that craft stuff to OH lol....Just thought I would add my ramblings lol

Linda Blondheim said...

I think any and all forms of art are great whether they be crafty or fine art.

Artyfax said...

Hi Jinny, yes blending the two aspects seems to keep cropping up, I guess I have always done one or the other. Must try this out! Thanks

Artyfax said...

Hi Linda (B), I hope this is what readers are appreciating is what I said. If not then I have waffled too much without explaining myself properly. Must admit it was not a considered piece, straight from the heart you might say. Thanks for your comment

joey said...

i adore the pastels on black john, really is a wonderful piece of work!