I’ve struggled with the label “fine art” for years. It’s a struggle with which most artisan/craftpersons is familiar. (There’s even an art show in Milwaukee named for it, Art vs. Craft)
When I left college and began teaching I was very interested in watercolor. I painted daily, read all of the books and took a couple of workshops. I was immersed. I saw the colors in the world around me in the same manner I saw my palette. I thought in washes. I was a fine artist.
But I wasn’t. I never grasped the medium at the level that I wanted to achieve and never developed much confidence.
I belonged to our local artists’ group. Most of the folks were watercolorists. A few painted in pastel ort oils. Most had college training or a lifetime of workshops. Most were pretty old and old school. They were a closed group and intimidating.
I knew that my level of painting would not impress them (Though many of theirs did not impress me) . My confidence level was really low and I never had the nerve to attempt to juried into the prestigious “hanging member” level.
I turned to fine craft. I was an emerging master woodworker (My earliest woodworking memory was in a home I moved from when I was three). I could produce really finely crafted artist books. I shared craft work with the artist association and never felt that this kind of work fit into their fine arts mindset.
Looking back the problem was with my mindset (Their mindset had problems, too, but I wasn’t going to change the way that they think). I lacked any confidence in my work.
This changed when I went to Hawaii and learned to build ukuleles. This work was soon recognized by Traditional Arts Indiana. That was a nice feather in my cap. As I worked more and became more involved with traditional arts I realized that I was producing work that had value. I also learned most of that value came from my own satisfaction with making things at a high level.
Lat week I list quite a few new pieces for sale on ETSY. When I went to categorize the pieces I clicked on “art” rather than usual “woodworking”. In my head I felt, that in many cases, my work had risen from traditional art/fine craft to fine art. Why not. It was being accepted by my peers. It tells a story. People come to me to learn my techniques and philosophies and it sells for what I ask. (We could certainly argue the merits of the last point.)
This morning I got a minor stamp of approval. At this time I’m no longer seeking them, but it was a nice nod and reminded me of the journey from a time I relied on approval and others’ labels. (It wasn’t that long ago.)
It’s the very first Fine Art Friday on Etsy and I made the treasury!
I’m adding some more links for this project:
Blog – http://findingfineart.blogspot.com/
Twitter – http://twitter.com/#!/FineArtFriday
Tumblr – http://findingfineart.tumblr.com/
Flickr group – http://www.flickr.com/groups/fineartfriday/
Creator – http://www.etsy.com/shop/jessicatorrant
Co-manager – http://www.etsy.com/shop/SarahJohnAfana
See you tomorrow in Bloomington!
* Elaborate on this and win a prize!
Another thought offered hours later… The art vs. craft “debate” has bothered and perplexed me for nearly 30 years. When i founded the Folk School I was determined to ignore any line between the two. We offer and support painter, sculptors, coon dog trainers and pie bakers. The creative tradition defines the art…not the label.