Tag Archives: collecting art

Art Advice: Stuck with it

stuckI have been interviewed several times regarding design advice over the past few weeks. When the interviews got published, they resulted in a few emails, so I thought I would use the blog to answer a few of them from time to time.

First up: the lady writes…

“I don’t know how I managed to do it but over the years I have ended up with a lot of art pieces that I don’t really like. Some of them are gifts from family and some I bought myself. But now I wonder what was I thinking? Some were quite expensive. Any suggestions?”

The lady who wrote this actually ended up hiring me to come have a look at her collection to see what could be done with it. But I hear this so much that I thought it worth a comment in case others might have the same issue.

First of all, art should not be burden to you. It should be enjoyed. So, if you don’t like it, either store it (properly) or get rid of it. But before you do, there are a few things you can try that could completely change your mind about those pieces. You might just learn to love them.

1. Grouping
Try hanging them in groupings with other art. Often paintings are not strong enough to carry a wall by themselves. But grouping it with other art, and using it as more of an accent piece can produce marvelous results.

2. Framing
I cannot tell you the number of times I have seen beautiful art made ugly by being placed in the wrong frame. And on the flip side, I have seen the right framing elevate what had seemed some fairly atrocious artwork into something very usable.

3. Doing the unexpected
Do you have a portrait of some old battle axe aunt that you don’t know what to do with? Hang her over the bar. Squeeze that large abstract into your tiny powder room. Or hang the period landscape with the gilded frame in the mud room. Interesting choices are what make interesting rooms.

If none of this works – by all means, don’t hang on to something that makes you unhappy.

Being cheap, being too polite, being impatient can take their toll over the years, landing you with a lot of stuff that you don’t want – not just art. I can help you out with the art, but husbands, ungrateful children, and bad haircuts you have to work out for yourself.

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Collecting Dust

I can remember the first piece of original art I ever owned. I was in my early teens and one of my friends was taking a drawing course in school. She showed me a pencil drawing that she had done of – all things – death. It was the classic figure of the hooded skeleton with the sickle. It wasn’t so much that I loved the image itself. But I remember being captivated by the pencil work, the shading, and the look of the graphite on the paper. When I admired it, she offered it to me as a gift, and from then on I was hooked – not only on art in general but on owning original pieces.

Once you cross that line of having original art rather than prints and reproductions on your walls, you can never go back. And the nice thing is that there are all kinds of original affordable art pieces out there. Some of my favorite pieces in my collection are just simple student works that artistically are not all that outstanding, and that I bought for next to nothing. They just spoke to me for some reason. Art is personal that way. If I am going to hang something on my walls and have to look at it every day, I want it to mean something to me. Of course, a good collection like this can take a lifetime. But what a joy to walk through rooms full of meaning and memories rather than rooms full of stuff.

Many times people have hired me to help buy art for their homes. And while I point them and prod them, I never choose for them. They often say “which do you think is the prettiest?” or “which one works better?” and I always say “Pick the one that reaches out to you, and you can’t go wrong.” Art doesn’t have to match the drapes of course. But I’ll bet you this, if the art matches you it will match with your home automatically.

My biggest piece of advice on collecting art is to DO IT and to start early.

There is a big difference between owning a collection of art and owning things that merely collect dust…

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