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The talent of fine art selection

When designing your new space , you want it to look both beautiful and unique. One way of designing the space's walls is to hang works of art. You can either buy originals or reproductions depending on your budget. Selecting art for your space is not an easy task. Here are a few pointers on selecting art:

Art works make a statement about the kind of person you are. So when you select art it should be because you love it and not simply because it matches your sofa or carpet. Art should be bought for its own value and nothing else. Buy art that you can enjoy for a long time. Buy something that you will not get bored with soon. The artwork should create the mood of the room and everything in the room should compliment it, and not the other way around.
Follow your instincts.  You will be attracted to artwork that seems to perfectly fit your home and to colors and themes that interest you. If your house is decorated in a traditional fashion then you will be attracted to traditional paintings. If it is decorated in a contemporary style you will be attracted to contemporary paintings.   You may like textiles, sculpture, or unusual works in media not previously known.  By talking to the gallery owners and designers, you can get help on how to better appreciate and select fine art for your particular space or project.

The following is an interesting take on art collection, taken from a monograph titled, "The Art of Investing: A Conversation with Roy Neuberger. " When asked the question: "As a renowned art collector, do you find similarities between selecting stocks and selecting works of art," Mr. Neuberger responded:
"Both are an art, although picking stocks is a minor art compared with painting, sculpture or literature. I started buying art in the 30s and in the 40s it was a daily, almost hourly occurrence. My inclination to buy the works of living artists comes from Van Gogh, who sold only one painting during his lifetime. He died in poverty, only then to become a legend and have his work sold for millions of dollars. 
There are more variables to consider now in both buying art and picking stocks. In the modern stock markets, the heavy use of futures and options has changed the nature of the investment world. In past times, the stock market was much less complicated, as was the art world. Artists rose and fell on their own merits without a lot of publicity and attention. As more and more dealers are involved with artists, the price of their work becomes inflated. So I almost always by works of unknown, relatively undiscovered artists, which, I suppose, is similar to value investing. But the big difference in my view of art and stocks is that I buy a stock to sell it and make money. I never bought paintings or sculptures for investment in my life. The objective is to enjoy their beauty."

-excerpted from Traditional Fine Art Online 

In conclusion, buying fine art needn't be intimidating.

Know what you enjoy (and will enjoy for the long run).  Don't be afraid to ask for help.  Many would-be art collectors have been dissuaded from the joy of owning art out of needless uncertainty. Should you have any questions of any kind, please don't hesitate to ask by contacting me. I'd be more than happy to help you in getting started on your collection!


From the easel...

In selecting fine art, it can be an enjoyable to know a little more about how the art was created.  Below are a few notes to that end.  I keep a black & white Mead Composition Book (you know, the kind you used in high school science class?) right beside the easel, so that as I work, I can record valuable information on techniques for future work.  You might say that they are the "cardinal rules" or the "fundamentals" that I have adopted for my studies.  Note that they are my individual preferences, and what seem to work for me.  (They may or may not be the industry standard.)  But I hope you find them interesting.

Lay colors on the palette in the same order each time so that mixing pigments becomes instinctive.

Block in main images with a very rough sketch in pencil/charcoal,to make sure that your composition fits well.

Begin with an underpainting of juicy color like cad yellow or vivid alizarin pinks.  This will show beneath the layers of paint that you'll apply over it, and be luminescent.  Depending on the piece, another choice at this point might be a value study in rich, warm umbers.  Note drying times of various pigments (unless wet-on-wet is suitable for your project.)  Pigments containing cobalt, manganese, & lead (such as the cads) accelerate drying and work well for underlayers.

"Fat over lean"- the proportion of oil in progressive layers should grow.  Lower layers of pigment absorb oil from layers on top of them.  If the upper layers dry

first, they could crack. For wet-on dry, linseed oil works

well in the lower layers as it dries most thoroughly. 

(Keep in mind, though, that this vehicle tends to yellow,

so use it sparingly with blues and whites. 

Instead, with these colors, poppy seed or

walnut oil work well.)

Contrasts.  Color, value, size, shape.  'Nuff said.

Horizon: never in center.  2/3 up or down.

As you work, step back from the easel often. 

Take frequent breaks to get a "fresh eye."

Color continuity.  A really blue sky with a really

green plain look like a cartoon unless you share

some of that blue with the plain and green with the sky. 

It's ok - it works.

Glazing builds colors & tones slowly, and brilliantly. 

It can be used in all, or just part of the piece.  It gives

depth and brilliance.  Viewers appreciate the work more

without really knowing why.

Wipe-offs can leave brilliant highlights.  Tissue, cloth,

even the handle end of a paintbrush can make striking

textures and strokes of their own.

Be line-wise.  Use shapes instead, or forget about

distinct spaces.  Use your eyes.  A snowcap may

drift into sky without any delineation at all, save white to blue, just as it appears in nature.

Enjoy the use of negative space.  Block a tree in, then "punch holes" in the tree with background hues.

There are no insignificant strokes.  Even the smallest require confidence, style and joy!

Drying paintings in the dark can cause a film that yellows (partially remedied with bright sunlight.)

After signing the piece, log its hours, pigments and vehicles as well as any special techniques.

Again, in art, as in life, there are no insignificant strokes.

Make every stroke count!


Fine art print FAQ's...

What Are the Differences Between Originals, Lithographs, and Giclee Prints?

An original work of art is the one-of-a-kind work itself, created in the studio.
Its image may be reproduced by means of print technology.  Reproductions may be "open edition," (an unlimited number are printed) or "limited edition," (limited to a certain number of reproductions created in that printing-see below)


Lithography is older technology, utilizing plates of varying color to transfer inks onto a substrate.  Lithographs are usually created in "runs" of hundreds or more, for cost effectiveness.

Giclee, pronounced "zhee-clay", is a sophisticated inkjet printing method. It merges the use of professional grade large format printers with archival pigmented inks, archival watercolor papers and/or canvas. By using custom profiles, precise color correction and expert scanning, these printers can render subtle gradations and many colors that would be out of range with other technologies.  The advantage to this process is that reproductions may be created in smaller editions, even individually, and sold as ordered.

What is a Limited Edition Print?

Limited Editions:   As the name implies, a limited edition is limited to an agreed-upon number of reproductions that will become available to the public.  In an edition of 1,000, should a collector buy the third in the edition, the artist will sign his/her reproduction 3/1,000. 

Additional impressions of a limited edition may also be numbered outside the allotted number:  Artist Proofs (for the artist's use), hand-altered prints, marked "unique,"  prints marked H/C ("hors de commerce"-not for sale), and the master print by which the rest of the edition is compared for quality, marked "bon à tirer" ("good to print").


There are MANY online sites where you can read more in-depth information regarding this topic. Before you enter into creating a collection of prints, educate yourself as to what is of value what is not, and what is worth your money and what is not. Enjoy the hunt!

For more writings, please visit my blog.

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