A Glimpse


Sometimes I only have a vague notion of my next image. It comes to me sometimes in the middle of the night or driving in the car. But it keeps coming to me again and again slowly taking shape and becoming clearer in my mind. These images are just as important as the ones that appear like a bolt of lightning in all their dynamic quality and clarity. Sometimes these more subtle images speak more about an unconscious aspect of ourselves or sometimes it is something that is so common place that we fail to notice it right before our eyes.

I find it is helpful to keep notes of these things. Slowly and imperceptibly images form upon these thoughts. It is perhaps like making soup. You begin with a base and you keep adding to it until it starts to carry the aroma that you have been savoring, yearning to taste. This aspect of my creative process is why I named my blog attentive equations- the equation being the multi-faceted assortment of material that becomes the basis of an image and to a greater degree a lineage of one’s artistic vision.

I have been musing over a design for a lithograph, one that has the character of a spontaneous observed moment. If one knows anything about lithography it is not what I would call a spontaneous process. It takes a lot of planning. A sketch directly on the stone takes a skill that I have only seen by say Whistler or Anders Zorn. There is no room for error. A mistake is permanent and can only be corrected by starting over and regrinding the stone. But there is something pure about the free print and Whistler was truly able to capture it. One of his images at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is a sketch of the artist’s sister with a friend having an intimate conversation in a parlor. It was briefly sketched but contained in its brevity a touching moment of intimacy between both the friends and the artist- they feeling free to express themselves in his company. It is this quality of authenticity that intrigues me- a common place yet genuine moment.

These common yet alluring moments of discovery are what was calling to me in the middle of the night. My daughter has really become a generator of inspiration for me. A child’s intense interest in all things no matter how common place they are has captured my imagination. It is not too often that there is something right before one’s eyes that holds a key to unlocking the inherent intensity of life itself. The child contains in his or her being an intense love of life and experience. And this, itself, seeks expression.

My image for the lithograph went through many stages before I could actually pinpoint this as the quality and expression I was after. And as it appears now, it may continue to develop further and emerge as a different type of image in the future. But I have to allow it to change and reach its eventual fruition within myself as well as within the image.


Author: Judith Reeve

For nearly 30 years I've developed my painting practice in the studio, building on what I leaned from my student days at the Lyme Academy of Fine Art. Along with my daily journey creating images which I write about here on this blog, I am also currently writing a book on the color practice of Robert Henri.

0 thoughts on “A Glimpse”

  1. Delicious drawings, I love them both. Such an exquisite expression and sensitive handling of the features on the one where she is looking at the viewer. Beautiful eyes. Thanks for writing about the way you develop ideas for images too that is something I have trouble with.

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