This western Montana artist embraces detail and simplicity at the same time. A former introvert, J Craig Platt was drawn out of his shell by his high school art teacher and by the University of Montana dance program. This art-loving panda is grateful to both of these sources, because they nudged him to become a disciplined artist who creates works that are simple and intricate all at once. Even when he’s not creating, he is working at his craft, daily.
Watercolor and beyond.
J Craig isn’t bound by one medium at a time. Although he tends to favor watercolor, his portfolio is an exploration of artistic mediums including pastel and ink; pastel and graphite and colored pencil; and ink on newsprint. Oh. And he also makes some very cool jewelry.
For J Craig’s watercolor titled “Inglorious” — an abstract “spiral” whale — he chose the Nielsen Profile 100, a sleek black metal frame ideal for shadow boxes. “I ordered one, unsure if this particular frame would be the one,” says the self-taught artist. “Turns out, perfect. I ordered 10 more. I would also comment that Frame Destination has THE best packing department I have yet to come across.” (We’ll pass that along, J Craig!)
See more of his work.
Take a peek at J Craig’s online portfolio of paintings and jewelry, located at Blue Hare Studios. Keep an eye out for his upcoming series that infuses each painting with a “kaleidoscope of color.” To learn more about his mood-lifting bud vase and the color he has “a thing for,” see my interview below.
Now for Artie’s Eight Q&A with J Craig Platt …
1. What is your background; how did you get started?
The majority of my artistic side is self-taught. Though I will give a good deal of credit to my high school art teacher, Ms. O'Leary. Her support and encouragement helped mold a quiet, introverted boy into someone better. Thank you, Ms. O'Leary! I studied dance at the University of Montana; this expanded my horizons, pulling me away from my last remnants of introversion and opening new worlds for me. I've been exploring more new worlds within the realm of art ever since.
2. What role do you think the artist plays in society?
This depends upon the individual artist and if they want to make an impact on society. As artists, if we are using our skills to influence society, we must be cognizant of what we are putting out into the world. We all see the world through our own eyes, and artists can inadvertently affect a single person or larger society with their work. My own work is, of course, is simply my personal viewpoint and emotions poured into the subject — which is part of the end result, but not the most important part of the piece. Art should inspire mindful and emotional reactions in those viewing the work. Even a negative reaction can cause one's work to be remembered. I fume to this day about what I perceived to be a bad work of art I saw in Minneapolis in 2000. All these years later and I am still shaking my head at the images. So, yea. Good or bad (though I prefer good), if I can cause a thought-provoking or emotional response in those who view my work, I feel I have done my job.
3. What has been a formative experience or the best advice you’ve received within your career?
If art is going to be your world, you have to work at it every day. In direct thought or physical form. Creativity isn't always easy, you can't force the creative juices to flow. But you can work at your craft even if you are not working on something you very much want to start or finish. For myself this means sketching, writing, painting, designing jewelry, cooking — anything creative to keep my mind and spirit active and hungry for more. Every day.
4. What ways does your work reflect your personality?
Multifaceted and maybe a bit controlled (but not controlling). While my style is embedded into each painting and series, I like to believe that each one takes on a life of its own, different from its predecessors. Too much repetition makes a very dull boy.
5. Creative blocks, do you get them? If so, how do you overcome them?
Creative blocks … yes, I get them. To answer this question, I'll loop back to question #3 on best advice: Keep working. On something, on anything that keeps your creative mind flowing. The blocks will soon fall away.
6. What is your most indispensable tool? (Not counting the obvious, like paints, brushes, canvas, camera, etc.)
Well, it's not exactly a “tool.” It is a small Japanese bud vase where I keep my tiny 5/0 brushes. The vase is full of memories and makes me happy to see it. It always helps to be in a good mood when you're working.
7. Do you have a new project you are working on, or a new passionate idea?
I have a new series of six or nine paintings. I never know the actual number of paintings until I get to the end. This series will be free form and a kaleidoscope of color within each painting. A new challenge for myself, to just let go.
8. What is your favorite paint color name?
Puce. Though, I never actually use that color. I just like the word, puce. My favorite color is a watercolor, lapis lazuli. It paints much different that it looks coming out of the tube. Also, I have a thing for lapis lazuli.
All artwork and/or photographs used in this post are subject to copyright held by the featured artist.
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