Tuesday, May 2, 2017

What is Art?

When I started creating stuff close to five years ago, I considered myself a wood worker.  Not a craftsman, artist or artisan.  My initial bird houses were terrible.  However, over time they became more refined.  The joints fit together well, the all wood construction impressed me, but did not impress too many other people.  When I did my first shows, people would say my bird houses were "nice".  I think the word nice is another way of saying boring.

Adding Paint

My neighbor, Steve Akins commissioned me to make a bird house for his brother and sister in-law.  they loved the mountains of Tennesee.  Steve wanted mountains, trees and a sunset on the bird house.  Being a wood worker, I did not want to stray from the traditional approach of covering up the wood with paint and hiding the tight fitting joints and wood grains.  I hesitated on making the bird house for a month.  Reluctantly I went out and purchased acrylic paint.

The First Thing I Painted 

The first thing I painted was a sunset or sunrise (depending if you are morning person or night owl).  This would be the first element to the Akin's bird house.  Then I added mountain outlines to the piece.  They were pretty boring too.  In the end, I cut out the mountains from 1/8 inch wood, painted the mountains to be purple mountains majesty and added a wire forest to the bottom of the bird house.  This first step in painting was a big step away from being a wood worker and becoming an artist.

Wood Worker to Artist

Since I had the paint, I started to experiment with painting wood scraps and making wall sculptures.  Which lead to vases at Steve Akin's suggestion.   The approach I took to painting was to add different globs of paint on the wood and stroke through to add multiple colors.  This entertained me for a while until I ran out of paint.  Then I slipped back into being a wood worker.  I say wood worker because I definitely was not an artisan at this point and really needed to work the wood (grind) to have tight joints.

First Lesson Learned and Forgotten

The finish is key.  Sounds simple to learn and not forget, but when your making you have a myopic view and can't see where you are going.  Now over five years later, I am revisiting my first lesson and understanding that the finish is key.  One can take something mundane, for example, bird houses and make it into art.

Art is All About the Finish

There are a few element to the finish of a product.  These include the colors, designs, imagery and the actual quality the finish being applied.  My friend Kurt Herrmann has been a great help in pulling me into perpetually creating new stuff, but more importantly working on the finish of my work.

Is It Art?

I am currently creating letter art and block art.  Kind or simple pieces when it comes to design and lacks creativity.  However, the finish is unique (iish).   I wold say art isn't always about the content of a piece of work, but all about the finish.  So, I battle with the question if my work is art, not good art, fine art, folk art, but is my work art.  I am slowly accepting that my work is art of some kind due to the final finishes to my work.  Just a morning rant to reinforce my approach to adding and mastering finish to my work.