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How to choose art

  • Home Renovation
Oct 10, 2016

Confused about whether to buy that prized painting or beautiful sculpture? We got architect and interior designer, and an avid art collector, Rakeshh Jeswaani to share with us a quick guide on how to choose art

Art is not just a canvas or a sheet of paper or artefacts. It is a medium to add beauty to your surroundings. It has the power to trigger your thoughts, emotions and make you feel. “It takes years of hard work and practice for an artist to develop his style and art does have a very real and powerful effect on your interiors. Nothing defines a space the way art can. It can make a dowdy room come alive and look glamorous, it can add warmth and life to a clinical space and it can lift your spirits and make you smile when you walk into a room,” says Rakeshh. But choosing art can also be daunting. While this is certainly not a black and white subject (pun intended), there are a few guidelines that you can keep in mind to help you make the right decision.


1. There is no 'good' or 'bad' art - different art appeals to different people. So before you actually buy, it's a good idea to see a lot of artworks by various artists. Visit galleries, browse online, start developing a sense of what appeals to you. Try getting acquainted with artists' names and styles that you like. Jot these down so when you visit a gallery you can give them an idea of what you're looking for. Prices vary greatly from artist to artist. Set a budget - it will narrow down your choices and make the selection easier.

2. Art can also be an investment. Should you buy more established artists or the younger, upcoming ones? We suggest do both! Of course, a big name is generally a safer bet, but there's a lot of great talent amongst the younger artists as well. Whichever you buy, make sure you really like the work and are not just buying something only for the name.

3. Educate yourself on the different mediums that artists work with - it will help you take a more informed decision when you buy. Here are some to get you started. Oil or acrylic paint on canvas – this is the most widely used medium and generally more expensive than a paper work by the same artist.

4. Paper works - can be acrylic paint on paper, watercolours, pen, ink, charcoal, pencil or a mix of these, which is called "mixed media". Sculpture - made with metal, stone, wood, fibre etc. And there's also photography, video, digital art, print making, installation art and lots more.

5. How do you decide on the size of an artwork? If it's going to be a single painting above a sofa or console, make sure it's at least 12 inches above the sofa and smaller from the sides by at least 10-12 inches. For a console, 6-8 inches smaller from the sides is fine. Always gauge the size of the artwork based on the furniture that it will be placed with. Make sure it's proportionate.

If you're using art on a feature wall where it will be the only visual element then make sure that it's large enough to make a statement. If you're grouping a couple of paintings together, visualise them as a whole and imagine them to be one large artwork. This will help you to buy the correct sizes. Always place art at eye level or lower.

6. So, what should the subject of the artwork be? Abstracts are safe for areas where you spend a lot of time, like bedrooms or living rooms. Choose something soothing and easy on the eyes here because you'll be looking at this everyday. In spaces like entrance lobbies, passages, dens, you can opt for something more dramatic. Maybe put a figurative work as you only see these for short periods of time. Also, in an entrance you need something striking. This is a great place to use unusual and different art mediums like 3D relief works or works using metal.

7. Don't colour co ordinate the art with the space. Treat your art like a living entity that has an identity of its own. You wouldn't dress to match your sofa would you? This doesn't mean that you choose a painting that will clash with your interiors or disturb you every time you see it. The thumb rule is to trust your senses. Look at it for a while; see how it grows on you. Buy it only if you feel you'll be happy to see it everyday. Walk away for a while and then come back for a second look. Avoid impulse buying.

8. Get the framing right. So, you've finally bought that beautiful work of art and now you need to frame it. So what do you do? Select the prettiest looking frame? That’s a big no. The frame is meant to support the artwork, not grab attention from it. It's an accessory so it needs to complement the work and enhance it. Frames in neutral colours like brown or black work well with most. Sometimes, for small but striking works, you can use a heavy, oversized frame but ensure that the frame never distracts from the art.


And here's one last bit of advice - don't overthink it. If you love that painting, just buy it!

Abstracts are safe for areas like bedrooms and living rooms where you spend a lot of time.

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