Woodworking can be both a craft and an art. According to English philosopher R.G. Collingwood wrote in THE PRINCIPLES OF ART (1938) that there is a distinction to be made between craft and art. He explained that craft differs from art in that “[t]he craftsman knows what he wants to make before he makes it.… The making of a work of art…is a strange and risky business in which the maker never knows quite what he is making until he makes it. As a result, a craftsman will allow the materials to limit their expression, but an artist never will.”
Woodworkers can be craftsmen, artists, or artisans–a combination of both. Fine art is produced mainly for its aesthetic value and its beauty, rather than its functional value; it is intended primarily for beauty rather than utility. With this in mind, one can grasp a deeper understanding of woodworking as fine art. Woodworking as a craft refers to the production of objects from wood with a focus on the outcome in terms of practicality. Woodworking as an art focuses less on practicality and more on aesthetics. Craftsmen woodworkers produce strictly practical/functional objects (e.g., furniture, etc.), while artist woodworkers create objects that serve no purpose outside of aesthetic inspiration. Artisan woodworkers craft pieces that are both practical and beautiful.
Woodworking as fine art is the creation of wood objects crafts that connect with people based on their personal feelings and emotions. The four main types of wood art are engraving and carving on wood, design and illustration on wood by painting or burning, turning of wood (most commonly by machines such as lathes), and construction of wood art objects (e.g., driftwood art, wood inlay art, marquetry, etc.). It is common for fine woodworking to visibly highlight the natural qualities of the wood (e.g., the wood grain and/or color), though some fine art woodworkers use paint and/or stain to achieve a certain decorative style or effect. The tools woodworkers use to create their pieces of art include such things as chisels, planes, and saws; the tools vary depending on the object being created.
Every piece created out of wood by an artist or artisan is an example of woodworking as fine art. Different aspects of each piece add to its appeal as art, from the type of wood and the techniques used to whether or not some function is accomplished by way of each piece’s existence. Woodworking is fine art that can be appreciated for its natural beauty and the way in which fine art woodworkers enhance that beauty.
The Naples Art District is home to the largest concentration of working artists in Southwest Florida, with over 80 professional creatives maintaining studios and galleries there. The Naples Art District (NAD) member artists share their work with unique art mediums and their artistic processes with visitors to the District via gallery exhibits and special events like art walks and demonstrations/workshops, to encourage people to learn more about and gain a greater appreciation of the creative arts. NAD publishes a calendar of events, as well as a list of classes offered by some member artists for anyone interested in learning more about the fine arts. Contact the Naples Art District online or by phone at 239-249-1977 any time.