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

Salon Show 2021 Salon Show
The Salon Show will be hosted by Quinlan Visual Arts Center, located in Gainesville, Georgia, June 10 through August 7, 2021 Learn More!
OPA Summer 2021 Online Showcase OPA Summer 2021 Online Showcase
The Summer 2021 Online Showcase is from June 1 - August 15, 2021 and will be open to Associate members only. Learn More!
2021 National Convention & Wet Paint Competition 2021 National Convention & Wet Paint Competition
The 2021 National Convention & Wet Paint Competition will take place in Santa Fe, New Mexico, from August 24 - 29, 2021. Learn More!
Eastern Regional Exhibition 2021 Eastern Regional Exhibition
The Eastern Regional Exhibition will be hosted by the ArtCenter Manatee, located in Bradenton, Florida, September 28 through October 22, 2021. Learn More!
Western Regional Exhibition 2021 Western Regional Exhibition
The Western Regional Exhibition will be held October 15 through November 27, 2021 at the Mary R. Koch Arts Center (Mark Arts), located in Wichita, Kansas. More details to be announced as they become available. Learn More!