Finding quality artwork to complement your space requires careful consideration. We asked local artist Ali Cockburn for her tips on finding, and placing, the perfect pieces…
Art has the power to transform a home, but the process of selecting the right painting can often feel overwhelming. When choosing an artwork that will work with your particular space and reflect your personal aesthetic, the starting point is simple — buy art that you love. “Select art that is an extension of your personality and that speaks to you,” advises Ali. “What resonates with one person, may not resonate with another. Never be swayed by other people’s opinions or current trends. You have to live with it, and you need to love it.”
CHOOSE A COLOUR PALETTE
Ali suggests selecting art that complements the existing theme of the room, unless you are starting from scratch. “If you have seen a piece of art that you really love, it’s often easier to decorate a room when you have an existing colour palette with which to work,” she says.
If you would like to place an artwork on a wall that has been wallpapered, Ali suggests choosing a fairly simple piece in similar colours. The same applies if you are decorating a dark or loud-coloured wall. “You certainly don’t want the painting to clash with the wall covering or colour,” says Ali. It’s also worth bearing in mind that some artists print their art onto wallpaper, which is often a cost-effective option.
Once you have decided on your colour scheme and like the work of a particular artist but can’t find something in their portfolio that will complement your home, Ali suggests asking the artist to commission something for you.
CONSIDER THE SIZE
The size and scale of an artwork will impact its suitability for a particular space. Ali says that although art should be the focal point of any room, it should not overcrowd the space. Common mistakes include hanging artwork at the incorrect height; and placing art on a wall that is not suited to the layout or size of the piece.
To get the position of your artwork right, Ali suggests hanging the piece at eye level, or approximately 152 centimetres from the floor. If you’re hanging art above a piece of furniture, however, it’s best to position the bottom of the frame between 15 and 20 centimetres from the top of the sofa or dresser, at the middle point. “The artwork should take up no more than two thirds of the width of the area of the wall behind the furniture.”
Once you have chosen your artwork, you might wonder if it’s necessary to have it framed. “Framing artwork is a very personal choice,” says Ali. “If you are in doubt as to frame or not, seek the advice of the artist. The composition of the artwork will depend on the choice of frame. Personally, I like to frame my pieces and I usually go for a simple wooden frame, either in its natural colour or painted in a colour that complements the artwork.”
PROTECT YOUR PIECES
To properly take care of your art, it’s important that you don’t expose it to sunlight. “The sun’s UV rays will break down the colour pigments of the paint and your beautiful painting will gradually fade, especially if the artist has not used artist grade paints with good lightfastness or permanence,” explains Ali. If it’s not possible to keep your art out of the sun completely, close the blinds when the sun is at its strongest, or better still, have a UV film installed on your windows.
When it comes to cleaning, artwork should only be lightly dusted with a very soft bristled brush. Dirt and dust should never be allowed to settle on the paint.
If you’re placing a piece of art in a bathroom, make sure that it has been coated with a protective varnish or spray. “I have often placed my artwork in clients’ bathrooms, and the important thing to remember is the bathroom must be well ventilated. The artwork must not be placed above or next to an area that gives off a lot of steam.”