The Effort of Craft and Vision

transits 37, photograph


“Writing is easy: all you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until the drops of blood form on your forehead.”

– Gene Fowler

I had to laugh when I read this quote which is the intro to one of my favorite art books that I’m currently re-reading, Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland. It captures so wryly the contrast between the seeming simplicity of artmaking and the difficulty of it’s actual achievement.

But it made me think about the various people I know and their approach to making art. Is it a struggle for everyone? I can think of two distinct ways in which it can be.

First is that of craft – all of us must learn the techniques required by our chosen medium, and inherent in this process is challenge and frustration. Some continue the learning process their whole lives, others reach a stage where they are satisfied with what they know. The second is that of vision – trying to figure out the meaning of what we’re creating and how to express it effectively to others. This issue is of paramount importance to some, of little interest to others, with most of us somewhere in between. How often do you ask yourself about your vision?

People make art for many reasons. Some do it for their own enjoyment, as an escape, while others pursue a more complex purpose. Even those who choose the latter path will find themselves sometimes making art just for fun, or as diversion. These aims are all perfectly legitimate.

But making art is like most other things we do – the wider the scope of our aspirations, the more we extend our reach, the more we will be rewarded. Those drops of blood will eventually fall, filling the page with our words, words which will resonate more for all the effort behind them.

8 responses to “The Effort of Craft and Vision

    • John,

      Thank you for the kind words – I actually owe part of this image to you! You recently wrote on your blog about the Flypaper textures, which I promptly bought and have been having a lot of fun with. A great complement to my texture library. I think this one was done exclusively with Flypaper textures, so… thanks!

  1. Gorgeous image. It has the feel of a painting, like linen.

    I just heard that a new magazine is coming out next year, to be called The Art Economist. Its statement of reason for being (think, art as commodity) is so counter to what you write about art, as here.

  2. This is image is stunning. It is painterly while being more than both painting and photograph.

    I often question the vision that came to me 32 years ago. Was I crazy? Was I deluded? Was I a too grandiose young person who merely needed any vision to keep on living? Yes, probably all of the above. Art may be given short shrift in our culture, but it can be stronger than food.

    Your vision is strong.

  3. There are a handful of people online whose work makes my heart sing, and you are one of those people. Your works always surprises and inspires me to be better, to work harder, and most important, never give up! To achieve such poetry in my work as you’ve achieved here is my ultimate goal. Bravo!

  4. Bob,

    I’ve admired your work for some time now, but this image is absolutely stunning! Thanks for sharing.

    I’m trying to get a handle on using textures in some of my photos, but have a ways to go. It’s difficult enough producing the vision you have when you first create an image, but then to try to combine it with a texture that enhances and doesn’t distract from it is another thing entirely. Adding another layer to the creative process seems to be a geometric increase in complexity.

    Thanks again,

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