Interior Design for Living: Displaying artwork: Choose pictures that have meaning

By Susan Gill Spellmeyer

Q: I have just about finished decorating my home, but I am having a difficult time deciding what to hang on my walls. I don't have a lot of money to spend on expensive artwork, but neither do I want posters all over my house.

Also, the cost of framing is so high. I have a hard time rationalizing paying a lot of money to frame a $10 poster.

Please advise me, too, as to how high to hang them. I have been told that pictures should be at eye level. Is this correct?

A: Posters can be very effective, but I agree with your not wanting them all over your home. For that matter, you wouldn't want any one type of art exclusively. It's far more interesting to vary what you put on the walls.

Most of us cannot afford very expensive art, but that does not preclude our having "good" art. Good art is not necessarily expensive. Taste­ful pieces are available in many forms and can be very affordable.

Paintings, be they watercolors, oils or acrylics, often command a high price, but it's not necessary to pur­chase a "known" artist. Often quality paintings can be found at local art shows, galleries and auctions. Artists from the area, or those just beginning their careers, often produce a high caliber of work for a reasonable price.

Other very viable sources for good art are prints. There are various types such as woodcuts, etchings, serigraphs (silkscreens), lithographs and others. They are usually produced in multiples and frequently the prints are limited to a certain number. They are individual­ly signed and numbered by the artist and are thus considered original. Because there are more than one, they • are an excellent source for a quality piece of art at a reasonable price. Another advantage to buying limited editions of prints is that, because they are originals, they have an intrinsic value which may very well increase.

Photography is another art form to consider. Either color or black and white photographs can be very worth­while additions to your collection and are also readily available at reasona­ble prices. Photographs hung in group­ings can be very effective.

Drawings of all sorts are other possibilities. They can be done in charcoal, pencil, or ink. They, too, are originals and are "one of a kind".

Keep in mind that art can encom­pass many things such as weavings, three dimensional paper designs, sculpture, basketry or even handwork such as quilts.

The most important thing to remem­ber when selecting art is that you choose a piece because it means something to you. It should evoke an emotion when you look at it. Don't ever settle for anything because it "goes with the room." It will be meaningless and soon become boring.

Regarding framing, an original piece of art deserves an appropriate frame. If done properly, it shows off the piece to its best advantage. The price of framing can vary tremendous­ly from store to store. I would advise getting a few estimates. It is also possible to save quite a bit of money if you order the various components and assemble it yourself. For posters or inexpensive prints, you may want to consider having them museum-mounted, where they are backed and then wrapped in a clear plastic covering. This is a reasonable, but attractive way to display less-than-precious art work.

It is generally accepted that art be hung at eye height. I think this holds true in hallways or foyers where people are walking or standing. Often in living rooms and dining rooms, where people are sitting most of the time, I prefer to hang them a little lower. Obviously, it will depend upon the individual circumstance, but often the art can be appreciated me readily if lowered just a few inches.

Art, and the selection of art, is personal and individual. It makes strong statement about you and by you. Select carefully and thoughtful!