Homework on artworkPublished on August 17, 2009

  • An asymmetrical group or “salon” hang of mixed genres is suited to smaller works and spaces. The overall box shape gives a nice balance to the displayed art of Kathy McNenly and Beth Lezin.

  • A gallery stretcher has a finished and wide canvas edge that requires no framing. Seen here on a large 96x 122 cm canvas by Janet Moore.

  • This shadow box frame allows the acrylic and charcoal work on paper by Jean Jewer to stand out.

Nothing punches up a room's wow factor quicker than a well-placed work of art. But it can be tricky to know where to look, what to buy, how to frame it and how best to display the art for maximum effect.

To help you find that perfect piece or start your own art collection, Ottawa at Home conferred with two art professionals for expert tips on selecting, framing and hanging art at home. Cube Gallery owner/curator Don Monet and artist/consultant Katherine Jeans (whose home is featured on page 24) offered the following suggestions and recommendations:

Finding art that you can love . . . • Decorative art is more affordable, but original artwork is a good investment as it's likely to increase in value and become a family legacy. • Don't be afraid to look for art that personally appeals to you. • There are many different types and genres of art to explore. Talk to professionals in the art world and visit different galleries, exhibitions and auctions to research the market and make informed buying decisions.

It's best to see the work in person to get a real sense of colours and textures, rather than relying on a photo or online images. Some galleries and artists allow the work to go on a home visit before buying. An artist may also consider a commission to replicate artwork in a different size to suit a home space. • When you buy a work of art, make sure you receive a bill of sale attesting that you are the work's legal owner. A record of Provenance can help to establish that a piece is not a forgery, reproduction or stolen item. • A well-rounded art collection includes pieces that appeal to individuals as well as partners in a home. Consider hanging pieces you both love in the home's common areas and creating personal spaces for other work.

The art of framing . . . • The perfect frame should enhance, not overpower a work of art. • Custom framing options are numerous and should suit the artwork. For example, modern art is usually paired with a contemporary frame. • Simple wood and metal frames are popular choices, as well as shadow box frames and new style mountings which can either float the artwork or project it from the wall. • It's okay to mix and match a variety of frames in the same room or area. • Large gallery canvasses are designed to be frameless and this saves additional expenses.

Getting the hang of it . . . • Make sure the work of art is placed to get maximum enjoyment. • The height level can vary depending on whether the art is viewed from a mostly sitting or standing position. It may be higher in an entrance area or hallway and staggered on a staircase wall. • Generally, the middle point of the artwork should be level with the nose and eye. • Partners should split their height difference if it's significant. • A single piece of artwork needs to be big enough to hold the wall. Group arrangements have a strong visual impact, whether in a horizontal, vertical or box shaped form. • Natural looking light that washes over a painting is best as it doesn't throw shadows or focus on only one area. • Rotate artwork on an annual basis to change the décor. This will renew your viewing of the art and also refresh your home to make it more interesting. — Written by Jane Whiting

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