Saturday, March 7, 2009

Buying Art to Match the Furniture

We artists endure several unpleasant aspects of being artists. One of these is hearing comments like this one from potential buyers: "We love it, but it's the wrong color/doesn't go with the furniture or drapes or cat or whatever." Most artists like to think we're creating work that will touch peoples' hearts and make their lives a little better or more meaningful as a result of having seen the works. Owning the art, of course, is even better.

So acquiring art just to "tie everything together," as they say on the TV home decorating programs, has a discouraging effect on those of us who work so hard to make meaningful one-of-a-kind products.

One of the gallery employees I worked with once told me of a married couple who came into the gallery some years ago. Both were looking at a large painting I made of a stormy desert scene with a golden eagle flying across the landscape. The overall color was blue, with yellow flowers along the bottom of the painting. The man appeared absolutely transfixed by my painting. But the wife gently reminded him that they didn't have blue in their color scheme. So they moved on to look for something else.

The painting obviously touched the man in a special way; perhaps it moved the woman as well. But it was the "wrong" color -- and they walked away from it. (It sold a few weeks later to someone else).

Years ago, I took some interior design classes in college. One comment the instructor made always stuck in my head: when you're ready to decorate a room, buy the furniture and other items first, then buy the paint you will use on the walls. The reasoning is obvious -- fabrics, draperies, blinds and other items come in a limited variety of colors. Paint comes in many hues and shades, and can even be mixed to match a sample you bring in. So it's easier to match paint to the furniture than vice versa.

I would add to that wisdom: buy your artwork first, then the furniture, THEN the wall paint. Original art is one of a kind -- the colors it has are all that there are.

Unfortunately, so many people buy the art last. I say: big mistake! They have the entire process reversed.

If all this makes sense to you, that's great. You will end up with art you truly love AND a great-looking room to put the art in!

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