How to Purchase and Hang Art Like a Pro - Part 3

Welcome to the third and final installment in this series. At this point you’ve luckily found your perfect work of art, possibly met the artist, and now its time to hang it. Where do you start?

 A pair of complimenting abstracts commissioned by a client for their two story family room. Each measures 7’ tall by 9’ wide!  (Oh, and I wood grained the coffered ceiling too.)

A pair of complimenting abstracts commissioned by a client for their two story family room. Each measures 7’ tall by 9’ wide! (Oh, and I wood grained the coffered ceiling too.)

Recently, a friend came to me with a question about a painting he bought in Colombia from an artist on the street. It isn’t stretched and he wasn’t sure what to do. A good framer will be able to mount the canvas on stretcher bars and then suggest different types of frames to compliment the piece. Or if you are handy, you might want to try stretching it yourself. A few places sell stretcher bars on line, such as Dick Blick and Cheap Joe’s. I prefer the deeper set kind, which give the piece a nice rich feel. They are sold as pairs, so you can buy the length and width you need. I won’t go into detail about the art of stretching but there are several tutorials on line to help you along.

 A series of fun paintings for a client’s daughter’s bedroom. Designs were based on the bedding.

A series of fun paintings for a client’s daughter’s bedroom. Designs were based on the bedding.

Framing is the fun part. Its like picking out your accessories for your outfit. I prefer understated frames that compliment the art. Floating frames are gorgeous for canvas works, I used black frames on my series, “Still Standing,” which was framed by Mat About You, shown below.

 A few of my pieces from “ Still Standing ” on display.

A few of my pieces from “Still Standing” on display.

The style of frame is up to you. Ornate gold frames look good in traditional spaces while clean simple frames look good with more transitional or modern decor. But there are no rules really. I've seen very successful groupings with a variety of style frames that are all different. Sometimes paintings are just fine without a frame. This style is called “gallery wrapped” and is when the sides are either painted a solid color or the image wraps around the sides.

 Gallery wrapped canvas. Private Commission

Gallery wrapped canvas. Private Commission

What if you have a watercolor or drawing? Typically theses types of works are framed under glass to protect the fragility of the media. A nice wide mat in a neutral color should set off the piece. I steer away from fancy, stacked mats with intricate cuts and bright colors because I think they distract from the art, but thats just me. A good framer shouldn’t sell you on the most expensive frame, but rather suggest options that set off the art and work within your budget, and most importantly a frame that’s appropriate for the value of the piece. You don’t want to pay $400 for a $40 drawing!

 My drawing “Double Fiddle” framed in an understated stacked white mat with simple black frame. Flanked by “Around Back” and “Rust and Dust.” Framed by  Mat About You .

My drawing “Double Fiddle” framed in an understated stacked white mat with simple black frame. Flanked by “Around Back” and “Rust and Dust.” Framed by Mat About You.

The hard part is how to hang it. Many people think hanging art high on the wall is correct. When was the last time you were in a museum? Do you remember how the art was hung? Well if its not salon style, (where art covers every last inch of the wall, floor to ceiling) then its typically at eye level.

 A great example of a grouping of pieces. Interior Design by  April Force Pardoe Interiors

A great example of a grouping of pieces. Interior Design by April Force Pardoe Interiors

If you're hanging artwork over a piece of furniture like a bed or a couch, the space between the top and the bottom of the art with the ceiling is important. Taller ceilings like the one above can be tricky. Bring the grouping closer to the couch so that it relates to the space and doesn’t seem floating. In the space below, the art is centered between the ceiling and the bed because the ceiling is lower and it would have felt cramped to hang the artwork any lower. If you're hanging it over a side table or other type of table, you want it to relate to the group to create a vignette. If the art doesn't relate to its surrounding it will feel odd and worse, unapproachable.

 Commissioned work, “Dancing Chrysanthemums”

Commissioned work, “Dancing Chrysanthemums”

Not finding that piece that feels "just right?" Then commission Lenehan Studios to create one for you. We can work within your budget and color scheme to design a piece that looks like it was meant to be. Like that perfect pair of shoes.

 A unique commissioned work on glass.

A unique commissioned work on glass.

How to Purchase and Hang Art Like a Pro - Part 2

You finally found it! Its perfect! It speaks to you, it calls your name, it works so well in your (insert space here) You must have it! Now you have to buy it. Here are some things to consider now you have found your art.

 Commissioned glass art installation.

Commissioned glass art installation.

You may wonder why one piece is $300 and another is $3000. It’s not about how long it took the artist to make it, or how large it is, or how realistic it is (thought sometimes I would like to think so) but rather, what the piece is worth in the art market.

Has the artist been working for a long time and has established his or herself as a talent worthy of being carried in a couple of galleries? Do they have a reputation for pushing the boundaries of their craft? Do they teach? Have they been published? Do they have a number of collectors? Or are they just starting out, perhaps fresh out of school, still finding patrons or a gallery that will accept them?

Pricing can be tricky, but please don’t discount the agony, sweat, second guessing and talent that went into the work by asking for a bargain. The price is probably low as it is. Plus, if you are buying in a gallery, most take at least 50% commission. So that $3000 price tag means that the artist only makes $1500. But galleries do the lion’s share of the marketing to make sure you know about their fabulous artists. That gorgeous building that is the perfect setting for all of that art probably isn't cheap to rent. And if you do find the art in the artist’s studio or at an art fair, they have invested their time and money in booth fees, travel, and other expenses that are required to running a legitimate business.

 Commissioned work for a client of  The Decorating Therapist.  (Still needs to be framed)

Commissioned work for a client of The Decorating Therapist. (Still needs to be framed)

So if you found your perfect work of art at an art fair or studio tour and if you’re lucky enough to meet the artist here are some “Do’s and Don’ts” when talking to the artist. Don't be intimidated to talk to them. We all love to talk about our work and with a few questions at the ready you'll be able to strike up an easy conversation.

What Not To Say

I’ve had the pleasure to meet so many people while working as a full time, dare I say, professional artist that I’ve had the spectrum of questions asked of me.

Not-So-Good Questions to Ask An Artist:

  • Why does your work cost so much?
  • My sister/cousin/friend is an artist. They could do what you do.
  • Is it finished? (ouch)
  • It looks like a photograph. (I get that one a lot. My hope is that it looks better than a photograph.)
  • I could find something cheaper at (insert generic home décor box store.)
  • How long does it take you to paint something like that?
  • It must be nice to be able to paint all day! (I rarely paint all day, and when I do its not usually fun. Its work!)

Now I’m not trying to sound like a bitch. But let me educate you. Many artists have invested thousands of hours of time into their craft. Our culture does not value (for the most part) fine art and does not see being an artist on the same level as say a lawyer. But that does not mean our work is any less important. We bring value to each and every person that lays eyes on our art.

The one question I get the most is how long something takes. I am guessing its because a lot of my work is very detailed and realistic. What I infer from that question is that the person isn’t sure how to relate to it or they are trying to equate it to their job where say they work forty hours a week- then how many hours would it have taken them, based on the price, for them to theoretically create it.

Good Questions to ask an Artist:

  • How do you decide what to make?
  • What inspired you to create this piece?
  • Is there an artist that you admire or influences your work?”
  • How or why did you become an artist?
  • Why do you work with certain mediums?

You’ll learn a lot more about their process and then perhaps understand what goes into creating the particular piece. I have some paintings that literally took me 10 minutes to create and others that took me a couple of months. But what go into all of them are my years of experience that add up to being proficient in color, execution, problem solving, and allow me to have a critical eye and know whether or not something is working just with a glance. Think of it like music. A really talented musician makes it look effortless. They hit all of the right notes, compose a killer improvised solo right on the spot without a bead of sweat on their brow. But what you don't see is that they got there through a million hours of practice, learning, trial and error, and sacrifice.

 A work I created for  Simply Put Interiors ' Living Room in this year's BSO Decorator Show House

A work I created for Simply Put Interiors' Living Room in this year's BSO Decorator Show House

I love this little story about Pablo Picasso which sums it up quite nicely:

“Picasso was sitting in a Paris café when an admirer approached and asked if he would do a quick sketch on a paper napkin. Picasso politely agreed, swiftly executed the work, and handed back the napkin — but not before asking for a rather significant amount of money. The admirer was shocked: “How can you ask for so much? It took you a minute to draw this!” “No”, Picasso replied, “It took me a lifetime.”

So if you love the work, buy it and support the artist that created it and the people who brought it to your attention.

In our next installment we will discuss how to hang it once you have it home.

(Part I - How to Purchase and Hang art Like a Pro)

Ten Years Without a Real Job!

Ten Years Without a Real Job!

It dawned on me the other day that 2018 marks the tenth year that I have been doing decorative painting full time. In 2008 I left the security of my teaching job behind and embarked on the most terrifying and rewarding journey of my life.

Faux is Dead

Faux is Dead

What do you think of when you hear the word “FAUX?” Does it give you thoughts of your friend “sponge painting” her living room with some pukey yellow paint? Does it remind you of that crusty brown “Tuscan Old World” mess on your neighbor’s wall? How about if I told you that “faux” in today’s interior design is alive and well if you know where to look.