Today, I’m  in the position of having very few pieces of art in my inventory that are not committed for purchase, so nothing much to describe and offer to you.

It’s just as well that I had planned to carry on with my discussion about decorating a modest home by using fine art, and classic decorative objects!

No – not this modest home! You do not need to own a British stately home with a 17th century portrait gallery in order to decorate with style. The picture above is not of my small city home in Victoria BC – it’s Blenheim Palace, the ancestral home of the Dukes of Marlborough; where there are, no doubt, loads of fine paintings, statuary and priceless antiques. My own collection of fine art and decorative objects looks just as good (as does that of a fellow dealer in Folk Art and other vintage items on the east coast), but on a rather more modest level appropriate to life style and regional Canadian culture, coupled with very individual personal tastes.

I mentioned last week that I was going to talk about incorporating larger pieces of art into a smaller home. This piece – Joe Average’s Basic Needs has been living in my home for a while, and it was a bit of a trick to find a good spot for it to perch – pardon the play on words! 

Some ideas for a piece this big – 36x36inches might be at the top of a short flight of stairs – on a landing for example; over a mantel if you have one low enough – say just under 5 feet to the shelf so that you can settle the painting snugly between the shelf and the ceiling; on the wall which encloses your basement stairway and the stairway to the bedroom floor – this is an angular space where a large and clearly coloured painting would look good; or perhaps on an easel, as shown, in a corner of a large, but carefully sparsely furnished room.

Here is one of my current resident paintings set against the wall over the mantel, it’s colours enhanced by and resonating with the collection of European mid-century art glass and a few clearly faux flowers. Such an arrangement lends a feeling of calm to what is a very exciting and edgy painting, and lends a well thought out air to the room.

Another corner of the living room: art pottery echoing the colours in the large Youngfox painting on the adjacent wall – again, a large painting does not necessarily engulf a grouping, if that grouping is carefully edited and the elements of it are all of good design. The television might have sounded a jarring note, but it is sleek, cutting edge design – classic electronics. The wall, painted white, adds interest in that it is textured.

One thing I’ve been noting as I wandered and browsed and searched the internet today for “decorating with art”, is that books so often are an integral part of decorating.

Check out these URL’s and you will see what I mean:

Several of the pictures at these URL’s are very similarly composed but because of the variety of colours, the focal art piece and the individual small decorative objects, each is quite quite different.

Another room, below, is chosen this time for displaying art – and art displayed in a dining room is a very traditional way to go. This is a room meant to be very calming and restful – appropriate where the enjoyment of good food and conversation are in the forefront. Pale colours playing on shades of neutral cream and caramel, and a symmetrical wall with a pair of simply curtained windows on either side of a mantel above which there is a classic  and vintage landscape painting. Who wouldn’t enjoy supper here?

And note that the furnishings can be approximated at many different price levels, for those of us who need to budget – I think that covers all of us! Which brings to mind a recent pair of auction acquisitions I made – two small woodblock prints by artists totally unknown to me – got the pair for less than $100 and who’s to know – they appealed to me and it will make me happy to see them daily in my home. So art doesn’t need to be beyond the reach of any of us!


 Going straight to an artist – Carl Larrson, who was a Swedish artist married to a weaver and needlewoman – together they set out in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to make a cosy, attractive home for themselves and their large family. Larrson was known for his watercolours of  family life within the setting of their home, so we have a very good picture of what their artists’  eye found pleasing.

 This is two of their little boys dressing up as soldiers. They are standing in front of a tall painted wainscotting which was a feature of several rooms in the home. Apparently the top rail was wide enough to be considered a shelf, and below that shelf and against the panelling, framed art was hung too – something not practiced today, but nevertheless an option if you have this type of wall feature.

Now for a few vignettes from the home of a quilt artist and dealer in Folk Art living on the East Coast of Canada. Janet lives in a rural area near a fishing village in a home dating to first settlement in the 1820’s. Her taste runs to country antiques, maritime Folk Art and unusual textiles.

 Above is a friend of hers she has housebroken so he can live inside – lol!! See his simple and carefully edited background.

 This next picture, above, shows the strong shade of blue that some of the furniture and trim is painted. This was taken in her studio and is the view she looks at while seated at her table to work: a Folk Art painting of the nearby village by a local woman, and an orphan block from a recently completed quilt placed as a reminder that she strives for complete accuracy in the handpiecing of quilts.


A corner of the kitchen: the printed blue Provence fabric curtain cuts the draft from the attic stairs, and plays against the blue painted trim, a blue grey French enamel pitcher full of dried lavender, and a watercolour bought mainly because the house is reminiscent of her own.

I think the point I’m making is that you need to identify your tastes and lifestyle and then choose items including art that you can happily surround yourself with. It helps if they are chosen because of passionate interests. It really doesn’t matter what your favourite period is, or who your favourite artist is.

Contact me – to discuss and points raised or art shown in today’s post.

Until next week – Mich


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