“I Paint What I Like”

When Joy Reed started painting, the artist didn’t know how far her passion would bloom. Portrait by Rachel Pressley.

Artist Joy Reed has a nice choice of studios. She and her husband Harold (likewise a prolific oil painter) live in the 10,000-square-foot, 80-acre estate Harold had built and named Bel Air Affairs. The property is rented as a high-end event space; however, Joy, who expresses her “many blessings from the Lord,” also spends time at a much smaller venue, her shop Personal Touch in rustic Horse Shoe Gap Village.

The couple have been together 35 years. “Harold taught me to paint,” says Joy. “He always did artwork, and I was watching him and he saw in my eyes that I was wishing and dreaming to do it. He said, ‘Do you want to try?’ and I thought, what the heck, I have nothing to lose. I thought I’d paint a stick man, but I couldn’t believe what I saw. You never know what you can do until you try.”

At the Vatican in Italy

“She’s very good, and I saw what she was doing and just let her continue in her own style,” her husband adds.

Their back-and-forth method is a domestic version of the Old World apprenticeship model. “I like to be free hand,” says Joy, “and whatever I see, I put on the canvas, and it works out pretty good. If there’s something I don’t understand, I go ask the master painter.”

But that master painter doesn’t claim a scholarly background, either. Coming of age in the New York City area, Harold cites frequent trips to the Metropolitan Museum as a “great art education” in its own right. His parents, he recalls, rented a room to an aspiring opera singer who also painted. She inspired him and taught him the intricacies of mixing pigments. From the age of eight, says Harold, he knew that “you can make any color using [combinations of ] white, black, red, yellow, and blue.”

That unconventional approach to art education still resonates. Harold doesn’t sketch out his subject first, and neither does Joy. “I go directly to painting,” she says. During the course of creating a work, she might pick up a piece of sewing or attend to some other project, but when her painting starts “talking,” she gets back to the easel to re-join the conversation. 

The Thinker


When she’s not interpreting the work of famous artists such as modernist Modigliani, Joy returns to a series of favorite subjects. Which ones she chooses “depends on which day it is,” she says. “I may see things when we travel to places like Rome or Paris, or to the Biltmore House, and then see something else in a magazine” — or even on TV. 

“I paint what I see and what I like,” she continues. “Maybe kitty cats, vineyards, nuns. I see different things in different places and then put them together in a painting. Right now I’m working on a small religious painting.”


However, the artist mostly goes large, and that’s why, at her shop Personal Touch, she sells art and craft, but rarely her own work. 

“I might take a little painting to the shop to show it, and if people want, they can come to the house to see everything. Otherwise some of the paintings are so big the shop would fit inside the painting — instead of the painting fitting inside the shop.”

Between them, the Reeds are rumored to have hundreds of original canvases — including reproduction frescoes — in the halls of Bel Air. But Joy won’t tell all. 

“Let that be a surprise,” she remarks coyly to Bold Life. “You have to come here to find out. If you do, I will give you more than lemonade.”

Joy Reed, Personal Touch at Horse Shoe Gap Village, 3636 Brevard Road, Hendersonville, see “Horse Shoe Gap Village” on Facebook. Bel Air Affairs, 61 Bel Air Drive, Horse Shoe, see bel-air-affairs.business-site

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