I am a big fan of original art. I think that it really makes a room special, and is the most beautiful way to introduce color and pattern to a neutral space. I particularly gravitate towards traditional furnishings combined with contemporary art; the juxtaposition of the old and the new creates a wonderful synergy that gives a room a fresh, modern feel. Contemporary art also seems to notch down the formality of a room with traditional furnishings.
Design by Brian McClure. This is a very neutral room with traditional furnishings. The artwork is what makes the room come alive.
Interior design by Caldwell-Beebe. A traditional and neutral dining room gets a punch of color from a contemporary dyptich (two paintings created as a set).
Art purists usually look down on matching the art to the sofa or the decor. To them, this reduces art to decorative rather than artistic. I must admit that I do not feel that way at all. First and foremost, a piece of art should create an emotional response in you. Often, the art that you respond to has similarities to the decor that you respond to, in both color and form. My favorite colors...muted greens, creams, blues, oranges...are the colors that I respond to in paintings. I also respond to flowing lines and circles, not hard forms such as squares. So the art that speaks to me tends to reflect what I gravitate to in decor.
If I were to start from scratch in a room, and had the luxury of time, I would use the art as the starting point. So, the decor would match the art instead of the other way around!
There are so many sources for original art, and the internet has given the art buyer even more options. Ebay has many wonderful artists, but there are so many paintings listed that it is sometimes difficult to find the really talented artists. Etsy is another source for reasonably priced original art. When purchasing art over the internet, particularly large pieces, keep in mind that it is sometimes hard to tell what a painting will look like in real life due to difference in monitor colors. I usually like to see a piece of art before I purchase. Galleries, of course, have top notch talent, and most galleries are happy to allow you to take a piece home on approval before purchasing. Many cities also have areas with a concentration of artists studios, and it is possible to purchase art directly from the artist. Another wonderful source for original art are the many art fairs and art markets that are going on virtually every weekend. Check your local paper or event magazine for art specific events.
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