The Visible Edge of Art: A Few Words on Crafstmanship
“For the artisan, craft is an end in itself. For you, the artist, craft is the vehicle for expressing your vision. Craft is the visible edge of art.”
--David Bayles, Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking
The Visionary's Point of Contact: Materials
As a painter, naturally, I am very interested in paint. Materials fascinate me, because, as David Bayles says in his book Art and Fear, materials are an artist's point of contact with reality. They are the physical intersection where vision meets expression.
Painting is part chemistry and part aesthetics: there are hundreds of pigment combinations, a dozen mediums, as many additives, and a nearly infinite variety of ways to mix and match layers, glazes, and impasto techniques. For the painter, it is not just a matter of having the right materials, but also developing the ability to use them.
Whether one's art is conceptual or figurative, traditional or not, craft is the means by which one's art is expressed. For an artist there is always a translation of the idea at hand, and craftsmanship (or lack of craftsmanship) is part of the expression. Craft impacts the maker (because it is intimately related to the process of making), and it also impacts the audience, because it is inseparable from the context by which an idea is conveyed.