Count Basie said of music, “If it sounds good, it is good.” Same holds true for food: what’s good is what tastes good to you. So, what about art? Why doesn’t everyone agree on what’s good? Easy; we’re talking about the senses. And while there are guidelines that can help you make up your mind, in the final analysis good art is what you like. Others may applaud your taste or question it. But it’s not about what people will say; their comments are about them not about you.
Buy art because the piece
~ evokes a memory;
~ provokes a thought;
~ tells a story;
~ creates a mood.
Framed? Unframed? Matted?
Some artists present framed pieces for sale because the work has been in a juried show. Framing is almost always required in these situations. Art that is framed is protected. And of course it’s ready to hang.
Other artists offer work that is unframed because they know that framing is a personal decision. Ask the artist for suggestions about framing.
What purpose does a mat serve?
Mats can serve two purposes - aesthetic and practical. Aesthetically, a mat acts as a visual border, separating the art from its surrounding wall. From a practical point of view, mats help anchor art on paper (water colors and pastels, for example), thus enabling the artist or framer to ensure that the work remains flat without having to resort to adhesives that could potentially ruin the painting as it ages.
What about glass?
Glass protects the art against dust, pollutants, etc. Oils generally do not need this protection. However, ask the artist if the oil has been varnished since varnish acts as a protection; some artists choose to avoid a finishing coat of varnish and therefore you might opt to instruct your framer to include glass.
~ a bit of info about fragile media~
Soft pastels (sometimes incorrectly called “chalk”) need protection. Most pastelists spray a fixative on their pastels. Glassed frames are usually a must in order to protect this delicate medium from the environment.
Water colors are usually framed under glass. However, this is becoming more of a personal decision. Talk with your framer about where you intend to hang your piece. The location in consideration of the room’s lighting will steer your decision.
Non-glare or regular glass is a personal decision. A good framer will be able to guide you through the advantages and the drawbacks of regular and non-glare glass. Plexiglas is another variable. It’s lighter than glass and nonbreakable but it scratches. Glass is much less likely to scratch but weight could be an issue if a piece is very large. Another consideration is whether to use UV glass. Many framers will recommend UV glass for any art work that will hang in a sunny room. UV glass does not let UV rays pass through it so your art work is protected from fading. However, UV glass may optically alter the appearance of the colors in the piece.
What if I want it but I don’t know if I can afford it?
The price of original art can seem prohibitive. Talk with the artist whose work you’re thinking about purchasing. Ask if he or she might be willing to consider payments over time. Many artists are willing to work out such an agreement.