Thursday, August 2, 2012

Portrait of the Artist: The Gift of Art

I painted this watercolor for my brother, Bryce, and his fiance, Vanessa, as a surprise gift for their engagement party. The scene is of a beach in the Dominican Republic where Bryce proposed, and I used a photo that Vanessa took as my reference image. It's a present that I spent hours working on, something that was specifically created just for them, and the first real work of art I've ever given as a gift.

Why is that? Why have I been so apprehensive about giving people art as gifts? Why have I spent years ordering things from and buying gift cards for friends and family instead of creating original works of art for them?

It's because of fear (isn't it always because fear?) I worry that if I spend hours creating something as a gift and the recipient doesn't like it that I'll be devastated. I worry that people will think I'm cheap if I give art instead of a gift that has an obvious monetary value (when in reality, creating art can be a pretty expensive process). I worry that my work might not turn out well, that I won't think it's good enough to give as a gift.

I finally set my fears aside when I gave Bryce and Vanessa this watercolor, and I'm glad I did, because Vanessa liked it so much that she cried. I've never had someone cry because I gave them a blender or a sweater or an iTunes card.

I'm beginning to realize just how lucky I am to have the gift of art, to be able to see beauty in the world around me, to be able to capture that beauty in ink and pencil and paint, and to be able to share it with the people that I love.


  1. I completely get your point of view - I have the same fear - if I make something, will people be disappointed that I didn't spend some socially expected amount of money?  I love to make things, whether artistic or culinary, but always shy away from using as gifts.  Maybe I should give it a try...customs be damned...we can make it up as we go!

  2. I don't think I would ever be disappointed with something that you made...I say give it a shot! I know I personally would prefer a home-baked cake and a hand-made card for my birthday over any sort of store-bought gift!


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