My mother has always believed that a room is not complete and a house is not a home without artwork on the walls. I do believe she is right; there is nothing more cold and commercial about a home when the walls are bare.
Although I have always been an admirer of artwork, for a long time the walls in my own home were empty. I would always talk myself out of spending, what to me, would seem like a small fortune on that antique store find – what if the colors weren’t right, what if I got tired of looking at it, or worse, what if it was worthless? So I would leave empty handed and kick myself later for not buying it. I had to learn to trust my eye.
While visiting my parents one year, I managed to talk my mother into letting me have a large antique oil painting that my father had bought at an antique store in Virginia many years ago; it is a very serene painting of a man in a horse drawn wagon making its way down a countryside lane. It is the kind of picture that pulls you in and makes you ask, where have they been and where are they going? This will always be my favorite, along with a beautiful etching of Montague Street in Brooklyn New York, and a Currier and Ives print of the Hudson River, which were given to me by my wonderful neighbors Marc and Denise. After that I was hooked, and now I can’t get enough artwork, of any kind. I have decided that no wall shall go undecorated in my home. And I realize now it is not about the cost of the artwork, it is the meaning behind it.
Collecting artwork takes time and patience. You can find pieces of art in many different places, like antique shows, estate sales and flea markets, or perhaps a visit to your local art gallery will help you get a better idea of what catches your eye, pulls you in, and makes you smile.
Hanging artwork does require a bit of thought and measuring, collections of the same size and subject can be hung in a grid pattern, or vertically, keeping the distance between each frame equal. A painting of larger proportions can be hung on a wall over a sofa or buffet and if need be, equally balanced on either side with smaller sized paintings, hurricane lanterns, or other objects of art.
Consider which room you will be hanging your artwork in, for instance, an etching of a garden or a stroll in the park would be perfect in a four seasons room, as would vintage botanical, insect, or butterfly prints. Framed fruit prints or vintage chicken prints are right at home in a kitchen or butler’s pantry. Collections of black and white art in similar frames of black and gold look great against an apple green or peony pink wall, or maybe a nude in the master bath.
My favorite way to decorate a wall is to arrange masses of watercolors, etchings, and floral and landscape paintings in mismatched gold, black, and wood frames. I hang them in an asymmetrical pattern, which is a lively way to bring all of my favorites together. It is my inspiration wall, and it reminds me of all the things and places I love. Trust yourself and remember if it speaks to you, buy it, and you will always find a place for it in your home.