Tuesday 12 March 2013

How To Select The Perfect Artwork For Your Home

As my mind is starting to wind down after completing my mother's house which is now for sale (before and after shots I will be sharing in a few weeks time), I am beginning to think about my art again. I have a huge canvas beside me 3/4 finished and another smaller unfinished work on my easel, both begging for attention. With art on my mind, I've decided to share some of my thoughts about art and interiors and some important points to remember when seeking art for your home.

Firstly, art is a very personal choice, one person might love nature and flowers another figures, while another may prefer contemporary or abstract works. There is no right or wrong in selecting the "style" of a painting.  An abstract painting can be perfect for an 18th Century villa just as much as a 20th Century. However there is a right and wrong when it comes to choosing that painting to enhance your decor with regards to its size, colours etc.

A painting or artwork can be a focus in your home to catch the eye as someone walks into a room, or it may be a subtle part of a collection of art and accessories in a room.  Personally I like art to be a statement piece and without it "over" dominating a room, I like the art to be as large as possible.

From an artists/designers point of view I have created a check list to remember when purchasing and hanging a painting to compliment your interior.

  • Don't make the mistake of hanging a painting too high or putting a small painting on a large expanse of wall. Make sure your chosen art is the correct size for the wall area.
  • Art should be hung at "eye level" with eye level being the centre of the painting.
  • Rule of thumb, large wall, large art or a collection of smaller pieces covering a larger area
  • Don't cover up your painting if hung above a console by putting large items in front of it, (an artists nightmare). When I sell a piece of work I want it to be on show in its entirety. 
  • Take into account your colour scheme, try to compliment the overall scheme of your decor by choosing accent colours that work with your art as can be seen in the images below.
  • When hanging the art, remember to to take into account the space for a picture light above if you choose to have one.
  • Ask if you can loan the artwork to try it in your house first. Often artist/galleries will allow you to try the artwork prior, especially if it is a large investment.
  • If you can purchase direct from the artist and they are not solely gallery represented you should be able to purchase at a lesser price as  most New Zealand galleries add on a minimum of 40%. The artist will only receive around 60% of the purchase price less tax on a gallery sale.
  • Don't hang paintings in direct sunlight, this can still fade a watercolour even if the best quality paints have been used. 
  • If you do purchase a watercolour, make sure the artist has used "artist quality" paints, you don't want to spend a lot of money on a piece to find you may have a very pale version or, gasp!...a white piece of paper in a few years time. Yes I have seen this happen, people buy art at a local fair and then find that 5 years later it has faded to near nothing from the damage of light and the use of cheap watercolour pigments.
  • Remember if your art is framed with glass you will get reflection, so personally I prefer oils or acrylics without glass in light filled areas. Large pieces of art are far better chosen without glass, a lot of watercolour artists who want to paint larger, turn to oils because of this reason. 
  • Don't think that using "non reflective" glass will be the best solution, it may avoid reflection, however, non reflective glass will dull the colours of the art and personally, as an artist I would never use non reflective glass.
  • Last of all, if you are buying art on line, please ask the artist if they use "artist quality paints and canvas", you want your painting to last longer than a lifetime.

Rather than selecting images where the work is incorrectly hung or doesn't compliment its surroundings I have selected images I feel work perfectly. Photo No.2 the work is slightly too high but this is because there is molding on the walls which determined the height of the picture. However I love this art and feel its absolutely perfect for the style and colours of this interior.

Above: Unknown artist
Above: Unknown artist
Above: Artist - Patricia Larsen
Above: Unknown artist - Interior design by Tiffany Eastman

The painting below is hung low over the console, however, if you look closely, there is an obvious reason as the ceiling height is limiting. I would normally not place items in front of a painting, however the green lamp and other accessories cleverly compliment these particular pieces of art work as they have a lot of white background.

Above: Paintings by Miranda Skoczek

The art below is actually painted directly onto the wall, I think it looks fabulous. I would not screw wall lights into a canvas but its perfectly fine in this respect and they reflect the style of the beams.  Is it my imagination? I feel the light on the left hand side of the screen is slightly higher, possibly an optical illusion.

Below, paintings in perfect harmony with their surroundings, you can catch a glimpse of my Lily painting, "Inspiration" hanging on the stairwell of this lovely Auckland home.  

The art in this NY apartment below, breaks all the rules, however, each individual art work has been hung to compliment the whole expanse of wall, creating a sense of  each piece being part of one large art work. I think this is extremely clever, don't you?

Before I end this post, I just want to add that a true artist will use only the finest quality paints, canvas and brushes which increases costs.  I can purchase a cotton canvas of 1 metre x 1 metre, ready made in an artist supplies store in New Zealand for around $35. However, I actually choose to pay $300 + for the same size canvas, hand stretched in Belgian linen as it not only will last more than a lifetime, it gives me the perfect surface to present my work. I also use brushes that cost me over $100 each, my fabulous blending brush cost me more than $200. You may gasp at this but the difference they make to my work is phenomenal and if cared for they will last many years. 

I hope you've managed to find some helpful information and inspiration, for selecting and hanging art  in your own home. Next month I am going to show you step by step how you can create a modern contemporary piece with absolutely no artist skills that will look fabulous in any interior.

If your not familiar with my own work you can see some of my sold works at my website. After an absence of painting the past 2 years because of my mothers illness I am beginning new works next month.


  1. What a great post, thanks Lee for all your advice. I have just bought an Andrew O'Brien abstract for our bedroom, and I am so excited!!! I love everything you've featured, but Miranda Skoczek (pic 5) is one of my all-time favourites. x

    1. Thanks Vic for your comment, I am pleased you identified that artist of image 5. Unfortunately all the artworks were from interior design sources with no mention of the artists and to be honest I should have really tried to track down all the artists. I will credit this artist appropriately.

  2. Que envidia de salones y de casas, me gustan mucho las combinaciones que hay y sobre todo me encantan los techos altos. Mi casa es pequeña y con techos bajos, además el salón, solo mide 20 m. cuadrados.
    Un beso.

  3. Great tips. I hate when art is hung too high. Drives me nuts.

    1. Thank you Kim, I agree and also paintings hanging crooked, I can't help myself straightening them.

      Thank you for visiting and taking time to comment.

      Lee :)

  4. What a fabulous post Lee. Every thing you said was so right on! I loved the examples too. I would love to have such amazing supplies to work with, and at the same time I think i would be intimated by such a nice canvas or brush. Do you have a shop where you can actually touch the brushes you buy?


    1. Thank you for your compliment about the post, coming from an artist such as yourself, it is doubly complimentary. I buy my brushes from a shop, yes, I would never pay that amount without being able to try first, you can actually wet their watercolour brushes and try them out, even soften out the size on them. However this brush is da vinci cosmotop, I think probably I could purchase much cheaper on line but I like to select as sometimes you find the odd brush where the bristles are a little damaged. Seriously this brush is the most divine brush for blending, its a size 20.

      If I sell mums house next week at auction I will treat myself to another brush as I need a couple really because once you start changing colours then your stuck if wanting to do a few areas in one sitting.

      Thank you again for your comment.

      Lee :)


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