Folk Art paintings are created by artists who have no formal academic training in the arts. The Western world has long distinguished between the highly structured teachings of the academies that produce the fine arts and the orally transmitted traditional arts, created by and for the artistically less sophisticated.
In the conservative view held by many folklorists, for a work to qualify as folk art it must be part of a long-standing tradition, must be learned from an active practitioner, and its genre, style, and technique should be those of an isolated culture, such as that of the Amish or whalers.
In the United States and Canada the concept of folk art is far less restrictive. In the normal usage of museums, dealers, collectors, and the general public the key word is nonacademic - art that has developed outside, but not necessarily uninfluenced by, the arts taught in art schools.
In fine art the idiosyncratic generally is admired, whereas anonymity of style is characteristic of folk art, in that it expresses an aesthetic for a specific group that includes the artist and the artist's immediate audience.