Thursday, September 15, 2016

Thursday Thoughts...

He who works with his hands is a laborer. 

He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. 

He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist. 

St. Francis Of Assisi

Once again, I read this as he or she; but didn't want to fiddle with a direct quote.

Semantics over; as I think about the content of these words, I think they are wise and may offer a simple way for me to understand the oftentimes fraught art-craft divide.

St Francis lived in the late 12th and early 13th centuries, so these words have travelled many years to reach me sitting here at my computer, after washing ink from my fingers from a piece of calligraphy I was writing in the studio.

Today my work felt like craft - it was a job, a skill I have, to make words looks beautiful.  I used my head to calculate nib widths, line lengths, and interlinear spaces; and my hands to craft the letters. The work is signage for a shop, and so a bit hard to imbue with my heart.

When I compare today's work with some more recent work where heart and head and hands were at play throughout; I realise I feel differently about work where my heart is involved.  And for me that work is artistic.

I wonder if it's that simple?

A glimpse of a piece with head and hands and heart...


  1. F- yes - head, heart and hands - thew combination seems to give pieces an added dimension. B

  2. Hi Fiona....this art/craft line hearkens to the age old question that I wrestle with as well. It is funny though, that I often feel as though I wish I was more steeped in a craft tradition, rather than just making "art". There are times I wish I had a strong background in ceramics or textiles or anything with a deep history that I could feel connected to. I think you have that with calligraphy and bookmaking and yet, each thing that you make cannot but help contain your head, your heart and your hands, even if it is a commercial task. I am not fond of making the art/craft distinction because I think that good craft is also imbued with head, heart and hands. Sharing the work that comes through our hands is the key! Cheers to you!

    1. So sorry for my tardiness Patti - it is an ongoing debate and divide isn't it? There is certainly a strong sense of craft in my work - the skills and traditions are well and truly there and are wonderful to have access to and feel a part of. I must admit, it's mostly the making with your hands that counts isn't it? That sense of a wellspring inside, an idea forming and the hands and head and heart creating something! Go well.

  3. I love that it really can be this simple and will be looking at things differently as a result. Thank you.

    1. Thanks Liz - I am still pondering it this way as it seems so very apt for my kind of work. There is traditional lettering in lines for jobs; and there is calligraphic art that adds a special quality and dimension to my work...glad you got something out of the thought too!

  4. Replies
    1. Indeed - if only we could find an h word for that! Maybe happenstance, heart, head and hands!


I appreciate your thoughts and comments; thanks for taking the time.