A Gift

Judith Reeve, Grey Dawn, Winter, 16 x 22, oil on linen, 2023 (available in the gallery)

Oftentimes, I am overwhelmed by the marketing surrounding fine art. As a creator, I am constantly marketed to- to buy supplies, seek gallery representation, to attend seminars and programs to assist my pursuit of what I love. This unnerves me because the nature of my work is an act of devotion, a compulsion, a love and joy that overflows from my most inward self. How can I put a price on this? How can I relegate what has been freely given to me to a marketing plan?

What I ask, as a painter, is for the viewer to take in the thoughtfulness and the care I have poured into each painting and dwell there temporarily with me. Together we may pause, take in the view, and let our minds wander back to our dreams, our memories, and the silent dwelling place within ourselves. Delacroix called this shared interval the bond that allows us to communicate with another soul across time and space. When you look at the painting, you not only see the image, but you also reach out to the painter himself. There in that space, we meet and come to understand and empathize with one another.

Oscar Wilde believed that creativity is not a special gift given to the artist, but rather the artist has the temperament of receptivity. This attentiveness to things in the world is the gift. What do I desire as a human being? I yearn to be whole, transformed by insight, a thought, a small wisdom- unnoticed. Art gifts these things to us, reactivating and renewing our sense of wonder and awe for the world.

Judith Reeve, Isolated Barn, January, 9 x 12, oil, 2023

My disenchantment with “marketing,” the materialism of the art commodity, is that it ignores the gift- the uncommon labor required to bring the image to fruition. Not that what I offer as an artist is great or grander than your experience or lived reality, because my art is, in fact, drawn from the world we both share. It is a gift because it has been freely given to me, and I, in turn, freely gift it to you.

That spirit is the spirit of a gift- not the transaction of two commodities but the interchange of two mutual generosities, passing between people who share in the project of a life worth living.

Maria Popova, The Marginalian

Art is a labor that is hard to quantify. How do we, as a society, honor the artmaking process as worthy of financial support? The labor involved is intense, and the need for sustenance is real. It costs the artist not just monetarily but physically and emotionally to create freely. In the market economy, how do we reconcile our spiritual need for the artist’s gift and provide a means for the artist to carry on in their labors?

The spirit of a gift is kept alive by its constant donation…The gifts of the inner world must be accepted as gifts in the outer world if they are to retain their vitality.

Lewis Hyde, The Gift [This was quoted by Maria Popova in the Marginalian. She is an incredible writer with many insights into the human condition.]

I can’t provide any solid answers to establishing this mutual exchange of gifts beyond what is present now- purchasing a painting that allows you to hold the gift in exchange for the money to support the artist’s needs. All I can do is continue my labor of love and paint as best I can, all that I see and feel in this sensual world of immense beauty.

Postcard from the Field

I have begun a new project where I am sending my subscribers an image of a recently completed painting. Each image carries its unique painting practice- composition, palette design, and color choices. On each postcard, I will share some of my reveries, thoughts, or the emotional intent that lies behind the work impacting the painting’s creation. Join me in this new adventure!

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