08 October 2008


Which is it?
Art and Craft are two different things! What some people call their "art" program is really a craft program and is misleading if you are looking for a way to express yourself where there are no rules, no wrong answers, where you can be free and creative. Most projects are somewhere between the two, in that shade of gray area.

Pure art lets you do whatever you want. In not-so-pure art you might be told what media to use (clay, canvas and paint, a pile of misc stuff and some glue) but you can do whatever you want with these items. If you are told what the finished item must resemble, then you are moving even closer toward that blurry line that separates art from craft. Hey, everyone- lets make flowers out of colored construction paper! (but how the flowers look are up to each person's imagination).

If you are told the steps to follow and what your project must look like (and everyone else's will look just like yours) than it's definitely a craft. Reimagine the flower project where you are told how many stems and what their sizes are, to follow a pattern for the leaves and petals and what colors to use for the petals - now it's 100% craft which leaves absolutely no room for imagination or creativity.

To cover all bases, most classes or teachers call their program "Arts and Crafts." If you are okay with either then sign up. If you are definitely looking for a more pure art or pure craft, then ask questions before signing on with the program!

If a child has difficulty with following directions and steps, then put them in a pure art program where they can do no wrong. Success is guarenteed! Self-esteem shall soar! AND NEVER EVER ask "what is it?" Just gush on about how cool the end result is, compliment the colors chosen, the shapes that evolved. This is best for the younger kids as well as anyone who has difficulty making something look the way it's "supposed" to look.

Alot of us have it drilled into our heads that our art has to "look" like something. That's why we have problems with abstract art. And many of us have it in our heads that the item has to look photo realistic. Freud would allow you to blame this on your parents, grandparents and society as a whole. I can blame my brainwashing on my dad. I'm all grown up now but he still looks over my shoulder (figuratively).

Just remember that before cameras, portrait painting ruled the earth. Kings and Queeens wanted to be remembered. Realism was demanded. It took society quite awhile to accept landscapes and still lifes, let alone the craziness of abstract art. It's gonna take some time for some of us to snap out of that mindset.


La Donna Welter said...

Thank you for visiting my blog, and thank you for the honor of adding me to your blog list!
I agree with you...a child's self-esteem does soar in a pure art class!
La Donna

Katie said...

Thank you. Amen!

Ralph Ivy said...

I agree with your differing between art and craft. A craft must measure up to certain standards. An art form has no prior requirements.

An architecture may be considered a work of art, but if it does not have a solid foundation it is not good architecture.

Permanence is not a requirement for art. Picasso may (as a short story once related) take a stick and draw fully committed for an afternoon on the beach. A drawing to be erased by the evening tide. But it is art.

About children...I have longed wondered why I can give a child 5 or 6 a box of crayons and say "draw me a picture" and the child immediately seizes the colors and begins.

That same child, however, if asked 5 years later, will hesitate...and even say..."I can't draw."

I have tried to hold on to the pleasure of art. True, I have spent my years in academia, I have tackled different mediums, but by my late 30's I was worn out, deadlocked, and... thankfully... realized I had lost the pleasure of art in attempting to measure up to those academic standards of "fine art", and began my return to simply doing what I want to do.

I draw. I color. I write. I play with words. Yes, I have "standards" but they are hardly defined by others. It is my own mood, my own need of the moment, that I pursue.

Yes, I would like the approval, even applause, of others. And seek it to a certain sense. But not to the point that I will abandon my own version of this life, my life, being lived.

Thank you.

Ralph Ivy

Liz said...

Ralph - Well said!

I appreciate your visit and comment! I can relate - I was an art major in college but dropped out because it wasn't fun anymore.

BTW - my grandparents are from your neck of the woods - Dyer, AR.