The True Measure of a Masterpiece

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Lummis House

I once took a plein air painting workshop taught by Joseph Stoddard, very talented artist and skillful instructor.

The setting for the workshop was the Lummis Home, a historic home-turned-museum nestled in an arroyo that meandered around mountains and paralleled a concrete river bed leading to Pasadena, California. The structures surrounding the courtyard formed an eclectic blend of medieval fortress and Spanish frontier; a most stimulating place to do art. I returned the following week to do an oil painting (seen above) of this location.

In his demonstrations, the Joseph completed several attractive paintings, each taking about an hour from start to finish and measuring approximately 9 x 12 inches.

Toward the end of the workshop, one of the artist/attendees asked me if I knew how much the instructors paintings cost. I told her that I had seen other similar paintings of his priced around $1200.

“$1200!” she gasped, “$1200 for a painting that took only an hour to complete? $1200 for something so small?” She went on to say, “I can pick up any number of 18 x 24 inch watercolors at an art fair for no more than $250 apiece.” Having said that, she went back to her easel, packed everything up and indignantly stormed off the grounds.

What is Value?

We sometimes have misguided opinions of what constitutes value. Did Stoddard really take one hour to complete the painting, or a lifetime honing his skills down to the point that, in one hour, he could create a work of art unmatched by anything others could not do in their lifetime? And if size determines value, then I imagine one could pick up a dozen original Faberge´ eggs for a half a sheet of food stamps. Or, as my dear artist-friend, Urania Christy Tarbet once said, “The reason I put so much paint on my canvases is that I price them by the pound.” Of course she’s joking for she’s a modern-day master artist.

Similarly, we sometimes assign any number of earthly standards on God; resulting in little, if any, bearing on the true worth of His creations. For example, the scriptures state that it took six days God to create the earth, then He rested on the seventh day (Genesis chapters 1 & 2). Would the earth have more value if He would have done it in ten days? Or, would the earth have been cheapened if God had created it in one day?

The Measure of a Masterpiece

Consider this; male and female were created toward the end of the sixth day period. Whether it took 24 hours or 24 minutes, it was still a miracle to have fashioned something so infinitely complex as a person. Yet an even greater miracle is recreation of something (someone) once eternally dead into one eternally alive. What makes that so amazing is that we control the process; whether it happens or not. The scriptures state, …if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. II Corinthians 5:17. That act of creation takes only as long (or short) as it takes a person to do what Romans 10:9 states; ‘…that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.’ Coming to a position of becoming a new creation could take only a matter of minutes. What of the man on a cross being crucified next to Jesus who barely had the time and breath to say, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” Luke 23:42

I suppose that in just the mention of the name ‘Jesus’, there is enough time to recreate a human spirit in a dire situation.

Great, and even priceless works of creativity cannot be measured or valued by time, but only by the ability, strength and character of the creator. You are God’s masterpiece.

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