On Craft and Art

“Vintage Soy and Tea Rose” by Brian Cote

Today we live in the midst of a revolution of art the likes of which the world has never seen. Through the overabundance of art instruction and marketing via social media and the internet, great masses of student artists have emerged. Masses of artists created by multitudes of texts, online tutorials and workshops generated to suit the personality of and pocketbook of every enthusiast across the globe.

What has emerged is a condition of academia whereby the burgeoning artist unwittingly believes that there is a magical system of method that will mold them into a master artist. Yet the bulk of students remain students and never advance beyond craft. Although these artists may have completed numerous workshops and tutorials, they struggle to create a meaningful expression because they lack the ability to see with their heart. They have listened closely and diligently followed each process step-by-step but they have not learned to feel and experience their surroundings in order to imbue their work worth a singular personal expression. Without this quality, their art remains craft and exudes only a dry deadness and the viewer is not compelled to become a part of the artist’s world.

Art is not just what you want to paint, it is also and more importantly, what you want to say. The artist must utilize the basic foundations of art as a platform for their emotional response to a landscape, a still life or a portrait. Academia is not a means to an end, but a tool with which the student may sow the seed of opportunity to blossom into greatness.

All too often I witness students copying this or that artist and jumping from technique to technique and workshop to workshop as if they are collecting trading cards. They purchase all the latest easels, brushes and boutique paints advertised by their favorite artists. But all the while they are overlooking the point of the lessons. They never internalize their training and fail to make the processes a part of their individuality; consequently never moving beyond craft.

“In the Shadow of Summer” by Brian Cote

Great works of art are enduring because the artist has been uncompromising in their approach to express themselves fully through the language of art. They have put their blood, sweat, and soul into their work to the point where the art itself is indistinguishable from who they are and what they want to say. This kind of art speaks to us on a deep, intimate level because it speaks to us from the heart.

I propose that from the beginning of their academic training, students be coached and encouraged to pour out their heart upon the canvas. That with every step of their foundation they learn to experience the beauty that surrounds them in a way that expresses their particular perspective and personality. In this way I believe the student may not arrive at a stand-still or dead-end upon the completion of their training, but that they arrive at the beginning of art. They arrive at a place where they may create an enduring work of art which emanates the glow of their passion for life and their passion for art.

Upcoming OPA Events

OPA Fall 2018 Online Showcase OPA Fall 2018 Online Showcase
The Fall 2018 Online Showcase is from October 1 - December 15, 2018 and will be open to both Associate and Signature members. Learn More!
OPA 2019 National Juried Exhibition OPA 2019 National Juried Exhibition
OPA's 2019 National Jusried Exhibition is being hosted by Illume Gallery of Fine Art, located in Saint George, Utah, from May 10 through June 7, 2019. Learn More!
2019 Virtuosos of the OPA 2019 Virtuosos of the OPA
Once again Oil Painters of America is pleased to present "The Virtuosos of the OPA Juried Exhibition of Traditional Oils", hosted by Cutter & Cutter Fine Art, in St. Augustine, Florida. Learn More!