Ken Craft (b. 1967 New Mexico), is an artist based in Dallas, TX. His work reflects an interest in representational scene painting alongside cartoon story telling. Craft 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. He’s influenced by Gustave Courbet, Art Spiegelman, Gerhard Richter, George Herriman, and - lately - Philip Guston.
The work I’m doing these days features a few comics characters alongside more or less realistic representational landscape done in oil. I’ve been painting most of my adult life so I’m most comfortable with that part of the work. But I also love comics. I love the beautiful, endless possibilities of theme and tone that can be found in comics story telling. I’m nowhere near the cartoonist I wish I was but I do enjoy immensely, working at it. I do the comics mostly with brush and ink because that feels more natural to me than pens.
Flirty LaMorte and Chief. These are the central characters and they serve as any comics character might. Through them I work out silly jokes, anxieties, loves and fears. Philosophical meanderings and a sense of wonder at the natural world. They are a little bit of me, of course, but I wish for them to have an independent life of their own. This isn’t auto-biography.
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 not for me. Flirty and Chief are friends just trying to sort things out. 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.