This post has been a collaborative effort and a result of several really wonderful email discussions. First I want to thank and acknowledge Kelsey @Lovely and Enough who engaged me in a conversation about Art vs. Craft. You can find her thoughts on the topic on her blog here: art versus craft. I highly recommend you read her thoughts and join us in this conversation.
I do not see myself as creating art. I believe that the quilt world is made up of traditional, art, and modern quilts. I see myself as a budding professional quilter, and I feel like the quilts I create span the traditional and modern quilt spectrum. I believe that is very true except for one clear exception: I believe my Reclamation Project series (Woman, Crave, Lost) is art.
When I started to think about Art vs. Craft, my brain jumped over to a slightly different set of tracks. I started thinking about all the artistic talent in my own family, and I reached out to my father-in-law, Frank Fuchs, who is a talented artist.
A native of the Pacific Northwest, Frank spent his childhood playing in orchards and camping with his family in the Cascade Mountains and on the shores of the Pacific Ocean. After touring Europe and North Africa, Frank married a New Mexican and moved to Albuquerque to study architecture and art at the University of New Mexico. A registered architect, he has worked throughout the United States and China.
Frank is equally at home with watercolors and oils. His landscapes, still-lifes and portraits reflect his love of the places and people where he has lived and traveled. His paintings are in private collections throughout the US and have hung in many juried shows including the Taos Society of Portrait Painters, the Western Federations of Watercolor Societies, the New Mexico Watercolor Society, Masterworks of New Mexico, the New Mexico State Fair, and the Los Alamos Art Center. He is a past-president of the New Mexico Watercolor Society and past-chair of the New Mexico Watercolor Society Signature Member Group.
I was curious to get an actual artist’s point of view on these topics and others, and I asked a series of questions that Frank graciously responded to.
1. ::Background:: As an architect and artist, you have a diverse artistic background to pull from. Are there any cross over skills between these two realms (architecture and art) and have you seen one side influence your work in the other?
Design and the Design Process is used in both architecture and art (and crafts). Seeing is the means of educating (training) yourself in design and drawing (graphics) is the language of design. Learning to see design and being able to express yourself in the graphic language are the two greatest skills needed in architecture and art.
2. ::Art vs. Craft:: What do you think distinguishes an artist from a hobbyist or person interested in craft? Are there also further distinctions and classifications within the art community (I am wondering about the distinction between art and fine art, and are the distinctions different for different media: watercolor, oil, pastels, photography, etc.)?
Arts and crafts are both results of creativity. One difference between arts and crafts might be that art is often intended to evoke emotion in the viewer. Artists and craftsman fall into one of two categories, professional and non-professional (student, hobbyist). Skill often differentiate the two levels, but not always. Professionals make their living in art; hobbyists don’t. I’m not aware of any distinctions for different media.
3. ::Business:: As an artist, how do you choose which work to submit to shows and/or galleries? Do you exclusively think of creating your work to list for sale and do you take on commissioned work?
How good the piece is: what I think of the painting and how people react to the painting, or, how well did I communicate with my viewer.
Yes, I do you take on commissioned work.
4. ::Design:: Thinking about your artistic style, is it important to you that you create original, somewhat unique work or do you work to achieve a particular style or use a particular method to compose your work? What excites you most about the artistic design process?
I would rather be good than different (Mies Van Der Rohe). Painting is a form of communication as well as self expression. Using a variety of painting media (oil, watercolor, pastels, etc.) is always exciting and challenging to me.
5. ::Your style:: Please share a piece of art that is a favorite in terms of expressing your artistic style. What about it represents you or excites you most?
Kavi. This painting illustrates, in my opinion, the subtle use of light, color and expression of transparent watercolor.
6. ::Tools:: Do you have tools outside of your canvas, brushes, and media that are essential to helping you create your art?
Adventuring, being in the zone, a place to work, and my Camera are also part of my creative process.
Frank’s assessment that “art is often intended to evoke emotion in the viewer” resonated deeply with me. Do you find that you view the distinction of an “art quilt” with this statement or do you feel that there is a different or additional criteria to define art quilts?