Biography of the artist: Edward J. Fraughton
Sculpture is a form shaped in three dimensions. In German, the word bildhouer, means picture banger. However, unlike drawing and painting, sculpture does not normally contain lines, per se. Traditional sculpture is generally a representation of tangible or intangible objects as they might appear in nature. As various 3-dimensional shapes that compose a piece of sculpture morph and meld together, they may cause a perception of lines to the viewer, even where lines do not exist. It is exceedingly tempting for the beginner to create a general form of an object and then fall back into the conventional habit of trying ro refine the work by simply drawing lines on the surface. Sculpture in its truest sense is understanding how to refine the forms, rather than lines.
For example: When we draw a horse, we draw a line, or an edge around which the rest of the horse is hidden from view. In sculpture, the horse has no edges, but instead, is composed of a series of edgeless shapes all fitting together into a single unified form. When I teach sculpture, my students are often shocked to hear that there are very few "lines" in nature, although that is how we interpret form in 2-dimensional drawings. What appears to the eye as a line, is something very different when looked at closely enough. The secret of creating great art is learning how to see.
As a sculptor, I see myself as a boy who never grew up, someone who spends every day searching in the mud for lost treasures; treasures of my own creation. Am I any good at finding them? That is not for me to answer, but for you to decide . . . . and your children . . . . and their children, and so on.
We are all dreamers, but artists are particularly so. Most people act surprised when they learn that artists can also be utilitarian. True artists are curious about everything. They constantly analyze and seek to understand all materials and their various limitations. An insatiable appetite for knowledge guides the artist in his quest for experience and understanding. A thorough knowledge of aerial and linear perspective, a complete understanding of color values and saturation, the existance or absence of light, anatomy, proportion, design, texture, transparent vs. opaque, warm vs. cool, etc; the chemistry from which paints are created, which includes the organic and inorganic substances from which paints or sculptural forms and decorations can be created, are studies absolutely essential to the accomplished artist. After that, what makes art poor or great is the artist's ability to blend the technical with the intuitive, the physical with the spiritual, truth with fiction.
That is the secret of art.
Art is the supreme communicator of diverse cultures and ideas in a common frame of understanding, a virtual bridge across time. It is also the universal link into genius. Unlike other animals whose basic senses seem strictly limited to survival and procreation, man is different:
An artist forever strives to elevate his own senses of touch, hearing, sight, taste, smell and voice, and then directs their energy into the branch of culinary arts, music, literature, dance, drama, painting, drawing and sculpture according to his or her heart's desire. The hope is that this will lead to loftier purposes of thought, understanding, inspiration, talent, creation and re-creation for everyone.
Some people ask why, when I have seemingly developed such great success as a sculptor, should I jeopardize my entire career as an artist by turning to the field of invention. My answer is: the sciences and the arts are one and the same. Some think it unusual that Leonardo daVinci and Michelangelo had so many seemingly diverse talents. In their day, they were not only expected to decorate their villages with the most outstanding artistic creations of their day, but they were also called upon to design their fortifications and invent new weapons of war. In Michelangelo's case, he studied anatomy in secret by candlelight. The penalty for mutilating a human cadaver, even to study it, was death. Had he been caught, that is precisely what would have happened to him. When Michelangelo created sculptures of the Medici brothers for the Medici Tomb, he represented drapery and armor as a natural extension of the human form, something never done before but something which looked more correct than that which actually existed in nature. He considered himself neither painter nor architect, yet, when called upon to do so, he created examples of fresco painting for the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and solved the greatest architectural puzzle or his time, i.e.; completion of the sacred Renaissance free-standing dome capping Saint Peter's Cathedral. Though 500 years have passed away, Michelangelo's feats remain unsurpassed in modern history. It is said that Michelangelo stated, "The trouble with sculpture is, you have to know all the crafts . . . better than the craftsmen."
One of my obtuse college professors once told me that we know more about design today than Michelangelo knew about design in his day. He was dead wrong.
Likewise, Leonardo was a consummate anatomist, painter and inventor. He painted the most important smile in history, invented far superior weapons of war during his lifetime than anyone else, made machines that ran on water and foresaw the practicality of manned flight. Amazing, isn't it? And how could it be that Michelangelo and Leonardo lived in the same time and in the same town?
Rembrandt painted simple ideas on canvas using a limited pallet and a few carefully chosen colors. With those tools, he produced not light, but a perfect illusion of light. His paintings stand alone in power, spirit and understanding of light, above all other painters in history.
So, what is this legecy called art? It is to do good. Its purpose is to communicate, edify and inspire a man to see beyond himself. Art is real, and imaginary, two worlds rolled into one, the fulfillment of the artist's insatiable soul.