If you follow Eric Gorges in his PBS series “A Craftsman’s Legacy” you know at some point in each show he asks his guest if they consider themselves artists or craftsmen. This year I have experienced a journey from never having created a painting to sketching and now to watercolors. At each step of the way I had to find someone who had mastered the technique I was trying to learn to “show me the ropes” very much like a blacksmith, just to name a trade, would start out as an apprentice to another craftsman who would teach methods.
It occurs to me that every artist, whether in music, writing, performing, film making, or in my case painting on paper or canvas must at some early point be shown the skills and techniques of the craft they want to pursue. I suspect even naturally talented graffiti artists at some point are “shown the ropes” by an experience individual in that skill. Having learned those techniques does not make the individual an artist, as hundreds perhaps thousands of people sitting around small town America thinking they are writing the next great film script can attest.
It seems to me that “art” is the vision and “craft” is the method by which that vision becomes a reality. Every artist must be a crafter (to coin a less gender specific term) first — and a decent living can be made as a person skilled in techniques, but not every crafter is an artist. Sometimes the vision is lacking, or simply not in tune with the times.
So here is my very first “craft” piece — an ink and watercolor wash drawing — Iris, 2017