Art vs. Craft: What’s the difference?

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                                                   Apple, acrylic, 14 x11  ($125 + $10 shipping)

I just saw a fascinating documentary, “Tim’s Vermeer,” produced by Penn & Teller.  It’s the story of Tim, who theorizes that Vermeer used a camera obscura to create his amazingly realistic paintings.  This theory is well known, but there are problems with it.  Tim set out to overcome the problems.  He made and modified a camera obscura, and actually built the entire scene of “The Music Lesson.”  He then painted the scene, using his invention.  He proved that Vermeer could have similarly used his own camera obscura to achieve the great level of detail in his paintings.  At the end of about 130 days, Tim had recreated an exact replica of Vermeer’s painting.

Yet something was still missing from the painting.  It lacked the magic that Vermeer brought to his work.  Why is that?

An artist must master her craft, surely.  More than that, though, the artist uses composition, the effects of light and color, the choice of subject matter, to elevate the craftman-like work to the level of art.  It’s seeing ordinary things in a different way.  Maybe it’s a sort of magic, after all.

Choosing a Subject to Paint

When I first began painting, I tried hard to find interesting subjects.  I started out by painting scenes from my travels.  Then I painted imagined scenarios using old family photos as references.  They were very nice.  I sold a lot of those paintings, and I still like most of them.  But the longer I practice art, the more I realize that the simplest things can be the subject of interesting paintings.  Here is an unusual perspective on breakfast:  a cup of coffee and an orange.

Coffee, Acrylic, 10 x10, $90 (+$10 shipping)

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Acrylic vs. Oil: Does It Make a Difference?

Acrylic, 10 x 10, $90 (+$10 Shipping)

Acrylic, 10 x 10, $90 (+$10 Shipping)

I used acrylic paint for finished paintings in Arizona, because I was in a rented house and didn’t want the fuss and mess of oils.  I was surprised to find that not only does acrylic paint dry much faster, but that it also influences a painter to use different techniques.   With oils, there is time to soften edges, play with the paint, blend colors, scrape and wipe out.  With acrylic, the painter doesn’t have this luxury.  Instead, you have to work quickly, and I found that acrylics lend themselves to harder edges, more glazing colors over each other, and brighter colors.   Which way is better?  What do you think?  Compare my landscapes, all done in oils, with my latest acrylic still life paintings.

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