Friday, January 22, 2010

What if I don't like anything that I see?

Every once in awhile this is something I hear. Usually this complaint (or call for help) is based on color or dimension, sometimes on style but mostly it is a vague and wandering complaint. I try to pin the client down as to what she likes or doesn;t like about particular pieces in front of her. And it seems the more the client thinks about it the more unclear and unfocused the collector becomes.

Don't let this happen to you! Accept the artwork as it comes to you and appreciate it in it's form. Allow the artist to be the artist, she has made very particular design desions. Every aspect of the painting has been carefully thought through. This is the beauty of collecting art--allowing the artist to speak through the painting. Listening to a painting is critical to properly experiencing a painting.

Buying an original painting is very unlike buying a car or a suit or anything else, really. It is NOT custom! You, as the collector, must leave that mentallity outside the gallery. You cannot customize, preorder, refine, or anything else to the artwork. An artist is NOT a decorator, creating an enviornment for you. The artist has a vision and a voice and if you share that vision and voice, then you and the painting can peacefully live together.

So be open, be receptive to what you see. Think mostly (I would say ONLY except that I do understand that collectors have real limitations) about the composition and color and texture. Be positive. Expect the unexpected. Expect to enjoy and fall in love with artwork. Surprise yourself with who you are.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Where do I put a painting? Or, I want a painting, but I don't really have anyplace for it to go!

Do you have a sofa? A bed? A dining room? Then yes, you have a place for a painting and yes, you need one!

Anyone with any sort of living room with a sofa has a wall that needs to be personalized. If you have a room that you live in, relax in, entertain yourself or others in, you have space and a wall that needs a painting. And a sofa is always a great place to start. If you have something there now, think about what it is. I suggest anything under glass should go. A sofa is a solid structure, and it needs a stretched and framed painting above it. It needs something with weight and presence. Something that will engage in conversation with your life within the room and yet at the same time bring you to another place. (This is why artits are visionaries. More on this later.) Think about yourself, and what paintings speak to you, don't overthink the sofa thing--and please ignore the decorator. You arent' matching colors and styles, you are looking for something that is a reflection of you. Who cares about matching when you are considering an original painting?

The same goes for the bedroom. Do you have a bed? I am sure you do! You need a painting to place over the headboard. Again, nothing speaks elegance and class like an original oil painting. Your bed is probably the most functional piece of furniture you own, you spend more time in your bed than any other piece of furniture in the house, so please consider your artwork here. Get rid of that sport print under glaring glass. Or that print that the decorator suggested. Get yourself into an art gallery and look at real paintings and put something of magnitude there. Don't you want to get the best rest possible? Then hang a beautiful painting over your headboard and wake up under it each morning.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Looking for Line

Line is the subconscious design element that attracts the novice viewer. Line is the boundaries of objects, it reveals the form so it is the design element that is most easily accessible. Everyone recognizes objects, and lines are the most common description of those recognisable object. So my advice to you is to watch the line for the obvious, of course, but to also notice the nuance that it gives to the artwork.

So here is the most enjoyable nuance, the painting's response. One thing that I have noticed when paintings are placed in a home is how they respond to the environment. And how the line of the work will emphasise or sometimes even mimic the architecture. This is what makes the home so gorgeous and this is when when the artwork start to live their lives. They come alive by responding to the home. They were conceived in the artist's creative mind, executed in the studio, exhibited in a gallery, and then finally placed in their home. It is at this moment the painting is in full bloom. The line will show the rhythm of the line of the room, the line of the room will work its way into the line of the painting. It is beautiful when you start to see this conversation between the two. And that is the place where real painting begins and a place that decorating can never go.

Another nuance to remember is the rhythm of the artwork. Again line is very descriptive here. If this word makes think of movement, you would be correct. The line is very powerful in carrying the eye through the painting. So again, when you are viewing a painting, pay very careful attention to where you look first, second, and so forth. Many times the artist's use of line is the pathway. She wants to gently guide your eye to certain moments in the painting so take your time to follow these signposts. I will say it again, painting is about communicating. The artist is showing you the work, the brushstrokes, the story, and so on. And this use of line is her way of acting as tourguide. Look here for a moment, then stop here and consider this, and now take a peek over here, and so one. Stand back and allow your eye to travel across the canvas enjoying the scenery.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Now for the hanging

The painting is purchased and paid for, wired and framed, wrapped in your place ready for you to hang it on the wall. You know where you are putting it. The question is, where do you hang it, exactly?

The rule of thumb is about four inches above the sofa or chair rail. The bottom of the frame should measure about four, maybe five, inches above the the tallest part of the sofa or sofa cusion. Seems low, right? Not really. The key to remember is that you want your painting's center to be as close to eye level as possible. You want the painting to be weighted lower into the room, not floating above. Always the painting should be placed so that it is easy to read. The painting is in your home to engage, to entertain, and to be a part of your life and conversation. Don't place it high up and out of reach. You don't want to lift your chin to see the work nor do you want the bottom few inches of the painting to be the focal point.

Now get out your tape measure, level, pencil and paper, calculator. This really is simple. Measure up four inches from top of sofa or chair rail and mark with pencil on wall. Rest painting on the floor with one hand holding it upright. Pull wire tight. Measure from bottom of frame to wire. Mark that measurement on wall. Tap in two hooks about 2 inches apart. Remember to align the hooks to the mark, not the nails. The nails will be above the mark. Hold the painting with one hand under the bottom frame and the other hand on the wire. Gently ease the wire onto one hook then the other. Use the level to straighten.

Stand back and enjoy!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

So what makes it a good painting? Part Two

So we have covered the first two considerations of what makes a painting good, or what makes a painting right for you.

Another top attraction is subject matter. What is the painting about? What objects, places, or people are in the painting? Again, this is such subjective criteria, no art critic can judge the quality of a painting strictly on subject matter. You will find that artists tend to choose one theme and work with it throughout their careers. You will also find that the better artists, the more educated and talented ones, the ones who balance craft with vision, will excel in several disciplines. The best painters are arguably the most well-rounded. Painters who primarily paint landscape will still go to the figure, any painter worth her salt will continue a lifetime of plein air painting. It just keeps observational and draftsmanship skills strong.

Enough about the artist, I am here for you, the collector. What does all that mean to you? It means look carefully at what is portrayed in the painting. For example, always look for an entrance into a landscape. How does the artist carry you into her world? Allow your eye to travel further up and further in. This is the very beginning of quality painting. Maybe the painting has people in it. How are they interacting? A figurative painting is about drama. What is the story, what is the relationship? Why is that relationship either compelling or relatable? I am going to lump florals and still life into one "branch" of painting. Consider here the craft, so much beauty can be found in a well-drawn musical instrument.

I am tell you this because subject matter is the melody of the painting, it is the part of the artwork that is the loudest, the most apparent, easiest to recognise. So naturally it seduces the viewer.

So my second comment is a warning, be wary of seductive painting! As attractive and compelling the subject matter may be remember to consider other components to the work. Choosing artwork based solely on subject matter (Wow--we vacationed RIGHT HERE) creates a collection that is kitchy.

Subject matter is the most relate able, tangible element of the painting. It is the one part that is instantly recognizable. Yes it is important, but take a second look when your "aha" moment lies completely in the "picture" part of the painting.

Friday, December 11, 2009

So what makes it a good painting?

Really? What determines that a painting is any good? Does the gallery? Who?

Fortunetly, you don't have to go to art school to answer this question. And the simplest answer is one that only you can answer, Do YOU like it? And here is what I hear most frequently from clients, what attracts them to particular artwork and particular artists.

So let's rephrase the question because what we really want to know is, "Is it the perfect painting for me?"

First, let's consider the scale. Interesting, huh? What is usually the first piece of criteria is, will the scale of the work suit the scale of the room? If the answere here is yes, then the artwork can be considered. No matter how good the painting is, if it is too big or small for the space then it just won't work. Usually artists work in a particular range of sizes so if you like one piece by an artist, you can find many others of similar scale and dimension. The two work together, the scale of the room and the scale of the artwork. When the two are harmonious the results are breathtaking.

Another is palette. Notice how I choose this word over color. "Color" implies matching and decorating, "palette" implies temperature, wholeness or completeness. A palette can be limited, meaning fewer colors used in the painting. When the artist does this, the result is usually a richer, more subtle work with highlighted spots of color. Or the palette can be varied, meaning a wider variety of colors often used at the same intensity. These paintings tend to be more active. So the term "palette" is better suited when describing the colors of a painting.

So the palette is something that is completely personal. Do you respond to rich, harmonious tones? Sublties that hint to depthes deep into the personal life of the painting? Temperature is important here, so consider the relative warmth of the work. Maybe you prefer a wider spectrum of hues. Does your eye always go to the pieces that are color-specific? Maybe you prefer lots of local color, whether it is a poppy field or an Venetian alley.

Monday, December 7, 2009

And now for the frame!

You have done the "hard" work, the searching for the perfect painting and you have found it. It is almost ready to hang in the spot in your home waiting for it. It is gorgeous, paid for, it is yours.

The one final detail to consider is the frame. The frame is the final border of the artwork, it completes it and makes it whole and makes it uniquely yours. We at Lamantia Gallery are professional framers so we select frames for paintings based on the artwork itself without any other considerations. Many clients fall in love with the painting as they see it, many others choose to reframe the artwork to better suit thier home.

Think of the frame as a bridge. The frame trasitions the artwork from the canvas to the living world. So you can see how important it is to select the perfect "bridge". A proper frame will hold the image within the boundaries of the canvas. The frame will enhance the painting by bringing your eye to the artwork but subtle enough so that it does not compete with the painting. Please be open to trying different looks and let us help you.

You are going to want to think about your enviornment now. Is the painting going into a formal living or dining area? Is the painting hanging in a casual and restful part of the house? What is the architecture of the room? All this translates into what shape and profile of frame, the finish of the material, or even the width of the moulding.

Something to consider is a liner. This is usually a white or cream frame that goes between the outer frame and the canvas. It gives the painting just a bit of margin and space before the moulding begins. These also come in different widths so it creates another bit of drama to the artwork. I personally like them because it is one more "retaining"' wall to the piece. It is a simple yet beautiful line that circles the artwork that allows the viewers eye to linger for another moment. And that is the entire role of the frame: to tempt us to stay and enjoy the view.