So I’m standing at the till in Sandyford having just spent a small fortune on schoolbooks and uniform, when my wife suggests that whilst we’re nearby, we should drop in to Kashan and have a quick look at the rugs. It all started there….
Pondering Interiors during lockdown
What I hadn’t realised is that Anna had been looking online at interior colours over the past few months for a new rug to add some colour and spark into our hallway. The lockdown has meant spending much more time in our home; no extracurricular activities, no school runs and no holidays! For some, that has meant working from home and rearranging furniture and setting up home offices as well as home schooling. We are all spending more time in our homes and that is unlikely to change too much in the near future. Before lockdown, when we were spending less time at home, making our surroundings more beautiful was more of a ‘wish list’ pursuit because there were so many other ways to enrich our lives; primarily freedom! We’ll never undervalue that again.
Our new rug added some life to our hall and certainly made a difference. It made the kitchen rug look dowdy so that was re-purposed under the dining room table (definitely not the location for new rugs with our kids), which, in turn, changed our perspective on our furnishings and interior colours. You can probably see where this is going – the Irish economy got a significant boost from us last week. Three rooms and a hallway in our house are now a different colour with rearranged and new furnishings and we said thank you to much of our clutter in ‘Marie Kondo’ style. Financial ramifications and my initial misgivings aside, I found it amazing how the change in colour has changed the atmosphere in the rooms Anna painted (at least until the inevitable children’s fingerprints and grubby footprints destroy our newfound zen).
…it didn’t stop there!!
When you have finished decorating, painting and gardening and have a little bit of time on your hands, YOU SHOULD NOT start surfing ‘my homes.ie’. Moreover, you shouldn’t check out those renovation projects that look like you might fall in love with. You definitely should not visit them in pre-lockdown and then spend the rest of lockdown pouring over the pictures, videos and site plans coming up with new ideas that you want to implement in another house! Unfortunately, we did!!
We now find ourselves in the process of selling our home (you can read about it in Mark Keenan’s article in the Independent here), which we have restored from a shell and only really just gotten fully established in. Whilst the prospect of a new project is exciting, it will mean giving up a lovely home, amazing neighbours and friends to live on what will become a building site for the next few years. We have renovated a few period properties before so know what we are doing, but that also comes with the trepidation of how long it’s going to take, the cold winters until we get the heating and insulation up and running and moving our possessions around the house as we try to restore a few rooms at a time. It will give us a blank canvas though, and although I’ve already planned where to put my studio and hang some of my artwork, we are starting to look at planning the interior designs.
The importance of colour and how it affects your mood
What I’ve discovered during lockdown, in both my home and my painting, is that colour is incredibly important in shaping my mood and in a certain way my resilience. It may seem trivial but in a time of significant stress we get a lift from little things like a beautiful rug, picture, painting or something that evokes a memory of a time when we could get on a plane and enjoy a holiday without 2 weeks quarantine, or even have a golf dinner without a P45 (if that’s your thing).
Covid-19 has made us all focus on what is important, whether that is staying a little more sane at home, surrounded by clutter, but with something bright and inspiring that you love. For me, that was always a painting. Searching for that inspiring painting can be a challenge however, and for ages I thought I was alone in finding formal galleries off-putting. Even though I have always had a clear idea of what I love in art, I used to feel invariably patronised or ignored in that setting. But the more people I speak to, the more I realise that I’m not the only one who hadn’t a clue where to look for art. That was until I stumbled across one gallery in particular where the staff were entirely different, more approachable, and helped us to a greater understanding of how the commercial art world works: I found out about Limited Edition Prints, experienced the joy of buying a painting that I loved, (from an up and coming artist who had been ‘discovered’ age 65) and then seeing his prints sell for the same price a year later as I had paid for the original.
What was lovely about this gallery was that they knew the artists personally and for me it was the first time that I had considered original paintings to be accessible to me as a ‘normal person’. The painting we found there 12 years ago hangs in our kitchen and makes me smile every day, which is hard to do first thing in the morning, while I’m preparing school lunches and trying to motivate grumpy children to get dressed and ready for school. I’ve never regretted that impulse decision to buy my first original and even though it probably has increased significantly in value since then, that is less of a motivator to me than the daily enjoyment I get from looking at it. We even designed our interior colours and furnishings around it.
Where do you find that perfect picture?
If you are looking for something similar to enrich your homes and lives, you can befriend a local gallery owner, look up local art fairs such as Art Source, go along to an art auction or search online for local artists in the area and genre that you are interested in (whether abstract, landscape, cityscape, portrait, wildlife, etc). Finding the right painting that evokes a meaningful emotion and with the colours that work for you and your home will take time. There are some amazing artists here in Ireland and I’ve gotten to know many of them at Art Fairs, but you could easily pass them by if you do not know they are there. Some of them will sell at galleries, others at markets, such as Merrion Square, Bushy Park or People’s Park. Many will have an online presence on Instagram, Facebook or have their own websites and a large number will attend art fairs such as Art Source, the Ideal Homes Show or Gifted, and some will rent out local pop-up shops for a week or two to show and sell their works. That said, as much as I enjoy spending time trailing around these venues and online, it takes time to find that picture that really connects, even for someone as impulsive as me, and more so my wife! But we don’t have that time to spare, so good art often ends up back on the wish list.
Even with all of that searching, how do you know when you have found that one picture that you really want to invest in, because let’s face it, buying art is an investment in both financial terms but also in emotional terms. As someone who collects art, I have developed my own checklist based on my experience of the art that I have bought over the years and I tend to look for the following characteristics:
- Firstly, it has to stand out and catch my eye, almost calling me to want to take another look.
- Secondly, there needs to be a connection in the painting that either invokes a memory or an emotion (positive or negative).
- Thirdly, there needs to be depth in the painting, this can be through the technique and paint application that adds dimensions that I see differently every time I view the painting.
- Finally, if I can, I like to get to know that artist’s story or some information about the painting itself and the thoughts/feelings that went into it.
I have found that I am more attached to the artwork I have collected that meet all of the above criteria than others that only meet a couple of them. Indeed, after a while I can become bored with some pictures and then quickly replace them; this can be frustrating if you’ve invested in an original. That said, I have many paintings that never grow old, even when our interior colours and decor changes. To me, these are great pieces of art. Obviously price can be an important factor in purchasing art, but there are often more affordable options available such as limited edition prints. Good quality prints are often difficult to distinguish from the original without close inspection. It’s important to check the quality of the ink, (is it archival?) and the paper or canvas that it is printed on (cheap paper and ink will fade over time – look out for archival quality indications) and also the number of prints produced. Are you happy to have the same picture as everybody else hanging in your home or would you prefer something a little more exclusive? These are important things to consider.
The one sure way of getting that perfect picture is to commission your own
The one sure way of getting the painting that you want that has the emotional connection and colours and energy that you are looking for and meets all of the criteria above is to commission your own. Now that kids are back to school, we can be a bit more nostalgic about “quality family time” and having a lasting memory of a painting of the children on the wall. Several of the paintings that I have found that clients have enjoyed the most over the past 6 months have incorporated aspects of family life that were meaningful to them, whether that’s the view from their house, the garden swing, their child on a bike, a family dog or the car their dad use to drive because they have the most emotional significance for them. For others, it is places that they have visited or iconic buildings or cityscapes that they have emotional attachments to. What all of these commissioned paintings have in common are that they embrace colour and energy to create a painting that is personal and meaningful.
My aim as an artist is to create something original, colourful and lasting that people can enjoy and bring them a smile every day. Unlike the majority of artists, I enjoy working with clients to produce a commissioned work of art. I find that I enjoy the interaction with people and creating something unique and personal together as a team. Additionally, I do not tie myself to one specific genre (or that winning formula that I can recreate over and over again and sell en masse) and find that working in different genres challenges me to improve and develop my artistic techniques. However although each of my works is unique they are still identifiable.
If you would like to commission a painting, give me a call or send me an email and we can arrange a time to discuss your requirements. If you would like to know more about the commissioning process, follow the link:
Alternatively, if you are not sure what would bring that colour and energy into your home, we can arrange a chat to discuss what could work for you and I can advise you on the best place or artist that would work for your requirements; give me a call or send an email to arrange a suitable time.
How about getting a commission as a gift?
Did you know that you can gift this personalised commission as a Christmas, Birthday or special occasion with a gift voucher. As weddings are becoming smaller during these restrictive times, what better way to share that special personalised moment than a gift of a meaningful commission, that the happy couple can be involved in right from the start.