Residential Color and Style from a Certified True Color Expert.

How do you collect art?

Art is one of the most personal things in your home. Art reflects your personality more than any other single thing that you have in your home. Art can be used to create drama or frissón, add elegance or humor, or contribute a desired pop of color.

Whatever your budget, there is art available that will enhance the look and feel of your home.  For the last few days, we have talked about mirrors. Today, we will talk about collecting real art. Below, please take a look at three still-life paintings:

Above, Alabama regional artist Mark Singer still life, private collection. Photograph ©Color Calling

The influence of French painter Henri-Émile-Benoît Matisse, below, on Mark Singer, unmistakable.

Matisse painting

image via:

Original still-life. Nice price point, $295. Image via Etsy

When color and drama are needed to infuse personality into a room, you need real art. If you are new to collecting, but want to learn more, the best way to train your eye is to pay regular visits to art museums. From the exercise above, you can see that if you love a Matisse painting in a museum, you can capture some of that look and feel in your own home.What appeals to you and moves you? Perhaps, go to  a museum by yourself the first time or two. What do you gravitate toward? Once you see something you love, you know that you are training your eye. Ask the museum if a docent could show you galleries with similar paintings when you find something you like.

When you love a painting, it  will create a visceral reaction. Do you remember the movie scene in “Pretty Woman” when Julia Roberts experiences opera for the first time? How she was moved to tears by the beauty and the emotion? Wonderful art elicits an emotional response as well. It is a personal response, and you may respond to something entirely differently from your husband or wife. Hopefully, you can find common ground and then you can build on that.

Above: a museum-quality misty landscape, by Birmingham favorite John Lonergan

Image via:

Below, completely different style from the same artist: private collection, photograph ©Color Calling

Once you understand what you like and love, you can go to your local art galleries and see what is for sale. When I am retained to style a room, I love to select for clients from our local Birmingham artists and our cozy galleries. (My favorite thing to do when I am helping a client, is to take down a mirror that is not doing anything for the room, and bring in a painting to fill the place.) Your nearest large town will certainly have wonderful galleries. Ask friends who have art that you love, where they acquired it.

Established quality regional artists such as the above command prices well into the thousands. After you have trained your eye, though, you can begin to take a look at internet sites where emerging artists offer their works directly. is a good one. There are some very talented artists, at fabulous price points, just waiting to be discovered. This large painting would add a charming pop of color to a neutral painted wall in a bungalow, and it is an original oil. Price? $375. Then, take some of the color from the painting and accessorize the room. If you decide to choose the warm Hermès shade of orange as your accent color (Pantone’s Color of the Year 2012, by the way), a reliable styling tip is to repeat that same orange another three times in the room.

Image: via Etsy

Below, a more sophisticated landscape, painted loosely, great price point.

image via Etsy, 18×24 original oil, $250

The best advice I ever received about art was from my mother. She said that when it comes to art, if you truly love something and you can afford it, you should buy it. I will tell you, two decades later, that advice has rung very true. I have never regretted a single piece of art that we truly loved and have purchased.

2 responses

  1. What a great post, Ellen! I love how you’ve demonstrated art at different price points with a similar feel. Rather than buy a Matisse print, buy original artwork from an artist whose work is influenced by Matisse. Love it…Very helpful and informative!

    February 19, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    • Thank you for the very nice comment, Carol!

      February 19, 2012 at 12:55 pm

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