Saturday, April 17, 2010

Who's Hanging on Your Walls?

Why You May Have Better Cultural Taste Than Most!
I used to make a living from commissioned murals, tromp l'oeil and faux finishing. I still do some murals and examples of them are on my site. But that's not the point I want to make here, what I want to talk about is what I learned about the art that many people have on the walls of their homes, even expensive dream homes that can afford some of the better art available.

Do You Know Who's Hanging on Your Walls?
I often work with interior designers, those artists of a different medium that can visualize your whole house, room by room, who know every high end name in fabrics, furniture, accessories, wall treatments and papers etc. I very much admire them and I cannot do what they do. Designers love to be hired by the wealthy who are able to have a large budget to get their interiors just right. What a pleasure to be able to create without too much thought for cost. Each chair around the dining table may cost thousands, the light fixtures can be imported from Italy and the cost may easily be in the double digit thousands. A tiny decorative pillow that is rarely seen may cost a weeks pay for some of us. Same goes for the rest of what they fill their houses with, you get the point. (I LOVE these customers by the way, they provide work for of many, many people!)

After the house becomes a showcase for the best of the best, then we come to the art for the walls. Many times what I saw on the walls in million dollar homes with all the best designer furniture and fabrics etc. were decorative prints, often manufactured in China and many that you could get at any home decor chain store. While there is nothing wrong with decorative prints, in my opinion they do not do justice to the beauty of the rest of the house. Many designers and home owners do not have real art on their radars and it becomes an after-thought with very little of the decorating budget assigned to it. More time, care and money can be spent on the wallpaper or wall-finish or even just the plain wall paint color than the art. Yes, the contractors painting the walls of a room may cost more than the decorative prints that are placed on them.

Did You Know....Not All Originals are Original?
Sometimes I saw original paintings instead of just decorative prints. What the homeowner may not know is that many 'originals' are more mass produced 'art' from China. There are many factory-studios where the same painting, often plagiarized off a real artist's work from America or Europe, is painted over and over again. Original painting? Hand painted, yes. Art? Is it or isn't it in your opinion? That's at the higher-end of the art from these factory-studios and some of it is very well painted. In many cases the 'original art' is painted by multiple 'artists'. Each one has one color and paints the same one or a few strokes over and over again as the painting goes from 'artist' to 'artist' down the conveyer belt. To any artist or a trained eye these are easy to spot as the style has such disconnect and it's obvious that the strokes are different all over the piece. There are many galleries, high end designer show rooms and 'exclusive' furniture and accessory stores full of this 'art'. They are filling a demand but I just want people to know what they are buying and how huge the mark up in price is. If they still are happy with it then that's fine but you cannot make a real choice without the real information.

Is A Brush Stroke Just a Brush Stroke?
Talking about strokes, did you know that an artist's brush stroke is unique and usually the more developed the artist the more distinct and refined their style, including strokes? Artists train and practice hard for years and years to get their strokes just right and to make every one count. Beginner artists often have no idea that it's their strokes betray their inexperience, it can take years just to build an awareness and an eye for them. The most 'careless' strokes can be the hardest. It takes excellence to make a stroke that looks like it was quickly slapped on but is done exactly how the artist wants. That stroke communicates something in a different way than a smooth 'invisible' stroke. (both can be equally important in paintings). What the viewer sees is something that they love to look at, something alive and magical about the piece they are viewing. You may just see a great painting, but the well trained, perfectly placed strokes are what makes it sing. Most of the time you need to see the original, not a photo or reproduction to really see this in a painting. (Although I must say that some giclee prints can be quite extraordinary in how well they reproduce a piece, they are still not originals though!)

So, if you enjoy art and if you own original art, or even a print that you carefully chose, you are better informed than many, even many of the super wealthy who rely on their interior designers' choices. The pleasure that art can give you; just coming across or hunting for the right piece and falling in love with it; purchasing and owning the piece that captured your heart; being able to enjoy it, sometimes with glances, sometimes with long looks in different lights, seeing how the light changes it; knowing you own something special and even watching the value of that piece increase as you watch the artist's career develop, is something that you can value and be proud of. In my biased opinion it makes you a special person that I am deeply thankful for. Without you there would be far less opportunity for artists to develop their art. There would be far less beauty in the world. You, your understanding of, your love of, and your purchasing of art is the vacuum that art fills. You really do help in the process of the art that we artists create.

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