Sunday, March 15, 2015

Art Collector Tip #6 - Wall Arrangements

Most of us art collectors have many more things that we'd like to display than wall space to display them.  One way to get our collection of 2-D artwork out of the closet and onto the wall is to create a few wall arrangements where we can display many pieces of artwork in an artistic and complementary way.  I'll discuss some thoughts on creating pleasing wall arrangements in this article.

First, a comment on the layout process.  What I do when planning a wall arrangement is first to mark off the size and shape of the area on the floor, using some tape as an outline.  I then place the artwork in that area, trying different arrangements until I hit upon one that I like.  I then measure where all the hangers would be, make a diagram on a piece of paper, and use that to attach the hangers to the wall.  I then hang the artwork.  Whatever extra holes are caused by small adjustments needed in the position of the hangers remain hidden behind the artwork.  There are certainly other approaches, but this one works for me.

Now, to the arrangement itself.  Arranging artwork on a wall area is similar to composition or design of a painting on paper or canvas.  Most often we have a rectangular area to work with, just like most paintings, but there are exceptions.  As in a painting, balance is recommended for a pleasing arrangement.  We discussed the principle and types of balance in Artist Tip #13, from which I quote:

"The principle of Balance that we will discuss next applies mostly to shapes, though it can also apply to other elements - particularly value.  An unbalanced painting, with most of its shapes on one side, is disturbing to view.  If we think of balance in terms of weight, large shapes "feel" heavier than small shapes, and dark shapes "feel" heavier than light shapes.  In addition, balance can be either formal, with similar shapes in similar positions on both sides of the painting, or informal, with larger shapes on one side close to the center, and small shapes on the other side, nearer the painting edge.  Think of informal balance on a seesaw or teeter-totter, with a large child near the fulcrum balancing a smaller child near the end, and you'll have the idea.  We generally find informal balance more pleasing than formal balance.  Balance applies to paintings horizontally, not vertically - a painting that is "heavier" on the bottom "feels" fine.  But if it's heavier on the top, it can seem odd."

Although these comments on painting design cannot be fully applied to wall arrangements, they do help us to think about how to arrange paintings on a rectangular wall space.  In particular, we can choose whether to create a formal or informal arrangement, depending on the space and the room.  Here is an example of a formal arrangement of three of my weekly watercolor paintings:

Here we have a completely balanced arrangement, laid out on the floor...  identical size frames, equally spaced, with similar frame styles and mat colors, and related subjects - all urban European scenes.  This client planned to hang these paintings above her fireplace to create a more interesting arrangement than a single large painting would provide.

Next, let's take a look at a larger arrangement that is less formal.  This is an arrangement of some of my wife Jeanette's needlework on a wall in our study:

Note that the sizes, frames, mats, and subject matter are all different.  The only unifying element is that they are all needlework pieces.  Although the arrangement is roughly rectangular, not all of the outside edges of the frames line up with one another.  It would be even more informal if there were overlap between the vertical "columns".

Finally, one can mix different types of artwork and even 3-D objects in a wall arrangement.  Here is an example from our kitchen:

This wall arrangement includes needlework, a metal sculpture, and a decorative clock, to give a varied and pleasing arrangement.

So these types of arrangements of artwork can create very interesting displays, while increasing the effective wall space we have to display our art.  We can choose to arrange the artwork in a formal or informal pattern.  And we can include pieces related by medium, size, or subject matter, or just create a varied display of our favorites.  Several smaller paintings can thus be used effectively in much larger spaces.

I hope you have found this art collector tip useful, and food for thought.  If you'd like to get artist and art collector tips like this delivered directly to your inbox every few weeks, sign up for my fine art e-newsletter here!  When you subscribe, you'll receive a 10% instant rebate valid for one month for any of my paintings.

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