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Blank Canvas Interview

Blank Canvas just published an interview with me, starting with the perennial question about Illustration vs. Fine Art.

Q: There is a polarized debate surrounding the distinction between illustration and fine art. You mention two artists you enjoy, that I also admire and study – Norman Rockwell and Alma Tadema – each has similar approaches in that they both create scenes from their imaginations, and yet one is called an illustrator and one is considered fine art. What are your thoughts, does it ever bother you to be called an illustrator, and how can less confident artists generate the courage to create art that inspires them when critics demean their approach?

A: I don’t really draw a distinction in my mind between “fine-art painting” and “illustration,” or between “fine-art” and “fantasy.” All are created in the studio; all are drawn from the imagination; and all follow more or less the same procedure.

Whether it’s landscape paintings for a gallery or dinosaur paintings for a science magazine, an artist’s approach can be either inspired or commercial, depending on what frame of mind we bring to the easel.

There’s nothing intrinsically “fine” about gallery work; in fact, it can be —and often is—far more commercial than illustration in the sense that an artist is always facing the consciousness of which images sell and why. I’ve never met a gallery artist who honestly doesn’t care about which of his paintings sell.

A more meaningful division for me is between observational work and studio work—or you might say: plein-air versus imagination, outdoor work versus indoor work, the outer eye versus the inner eye. Both aspects of the artistic life are essential to me, and always have been.

Blank Canvas Interview with James Gurney
A longer blog post on Fine Art and Illustration

This post first appeared on Gurney Journey, please read the originial post: here

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Blank Canvas Interview


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