About seven years ago, my husband and I were invited to my friend Josette's house for dinner. It was the second time I'd been to her home, and I couldn't wait to go: her home was just so soulful. It wasn't a very large house -- downright tiny, by Texas standards -- but it was decorated so beautifully; and, most importantly, it was teeming with some of the most beautiful art I'd ever seen.
We arrived that night, and soon after we were given our first glass of wine, I asked Josette if I could snoop around a bit.
"Of course," she said. "I'll come with you."
We went from room to room, and she showed me some of her favourite pieces, and I told her which were mine. Finally, I sighed.
"Josette," I said wistfully, "how the hell do you do it?"
"Do what?" she asked.
"Find so much beautiful art!" I said. "Like, how do you know what to buy?"
"Well," she said, "I tell you what I do: every time I travel, either for work or on vacation, I always pick up a piece of art. Sometimes, I look up a local gallery, other times, I just pick up a piece done by a street artist. Even other times, I just walk into a gift shop. So the result is that a few of these pieces are expensive, but a lot of them aren't. My only rules are that I only buy original pieces, and I only buy what I love."
"But how do you know what's going to go with your furniture? In a particular room?" I persisted.
"I don't," she said calmly. "But I've learned that as long as I buy what I love, it's naturally going to fit in my home."
I thought about what she said that day, and decided that from that day on, I was going to copy her. I was going to make art my souvenir when I traveled, and I was only going to buy what I loved.
I've stayed pretty close to this resolution, and as a result, my house is now full of art (resulting in my husband at one point begging me to take up cocaine instead of art collecting, since he was sure it would be a lot cheaper. I think he's just miserly). There are a couple of pieces that are of some value, but there are many pieces which were extremely inexpensive. Some of the pieces are very abstract, others look like antiques (but are not), and still others look very figurative. I'm sure on a lot of levels, the art that is in our home makes absolutely no sense. But the upshot is that the art in our home is very personal, and feels very much like our family.
It makes our home, dare I say, soulful.
With my relatively recent passion for art, of course, came an another obsession with art blogs - especially since now, with the recession, the chance of my traveling anywhere, much less buying souvenirs, has shrunk to nearly nil. Happily, there are several beautiful blogs out there by some amazing artists, and the following remain permanent fixutres in my feed reader:
Journal of Marieke Berghuis -- The pages of the art journal by an art studen living in Paris. Really beautiful abstract work.
Woolgathering -- Elizabeth Perry's website is probably the first art blog I ever started following, years ago, and it remains a pretty consistent addiction. Elizabeth blogs the little things, resulting in an intimate look at her daily life.
Penelope Illustration -- A beautiful blog, featuring the work of illustrator Penelope Dullaghan. Bonus: she just had a baby!And so, my question to you is twofold: do you collect art, and if so, do you have an "art collecting philosophy"? Extra points: Any art blogs you'd love to share?
Karen is a writer and photographer living in Houston, Texas. Read/see more about her at Chookooloonks