Ken Craft (b. 1967 New Mexico), is an artist based in Dallas, TX. He and his wife, Carolyn, live just east of Dallas. His work reflects an interest in representational scene painting alongside cartoon story telling. He is creating original comics characters for his paintings. The work is meant to exist as both traditional easel painting and as a form of comics.
Craft himself has existed in two worlds for over 20 years now, maintaining a career as a professional firefighter while painting as often as he can. He has been in numerous group exhibits in Dallas and has had 3 solo exhibits there. He recently exhibited 3 paintings in a juried exhibit at Artspace 111 in Ft. Worth, TX and was awarded the Top Choice prize by juror Vernon Fisher.
The work I’m doing these days features a combination of painting and cartooning. In some ways, I am a painter who sometimes wishes he could be cartoonist. I’ve been painting most of my adult life so I’m most comfortable with that part of the work. But I also have a great love for the long tradition of American cartooning and comics. From the tender melancholy of Charles Schulz’s Peanuts to the wild and grotesque beauty of Tony Millionaire’s Maakies- there is so much richness and diversity of tone and theme to be found in comics. And when combined with somewhat traditional scene painting done in oil, I have found that the possibilities for exploration are endless.
Flirty La Morte and Chief. These are the central characters and they serve as any comics character might. Through them, I may work out silly jokes or very real anxieties, loves and fears. There is occasionally a little philosophical meandering and also a steady sense of wonder at the natural world.
A cowboy and a Native American. These are visual tropes and stereotypes that are deeply infused in our consciousness as Americans. They are loaded images I suppose for some. But for me, Flirty and Chief are simply friends. Friends who sometimes help and sometimes antagonize each other as befitting the scene and story. Flirty is perhaps the heart of the story, being prone to emotional outburst and reactionary behavior. Chief (not his real name, it’s just what Flirty calls him) is a little more worldly and sophisticated. They both wear costumes that vaguely place them in late 19th century America but they exist in no particular time.
The painted image and the cartoon bounce off of each other. Sometimes they are directly relatable and sometimes not. It’s never random, though. I’m always aiming for either an intellectual or emotional connection between the two.