Friday, December 28, 2012

ART TALK : How to Hang

One of the questions we get asked most often here at the gallery is, "Where do I hang a painting?".

"Where" can mean : what room, how high on the wall, over a piece of furniture (or not), next to another painting, etc.. While we love to tell people to hang things where and how they like, there are a few little tips and tricks that can help you when deciding where to place a piece of art.

50. Anchor your art: Art needs to be anchored, either by a piece of furniture, a picture rail or other art.

53. Safety in numbers: Hang in groupings if the pieces are small.


 58. Group with purpose: Don’t hang lots of small paintings here and there in a room. Instead, arrange them in such a way to create the illusion of one big piece. We’re crazy about art walls.


59. Start with a plan: For large groupings of pieces, arrange artwork on floor first.

60. Create an illusion: Group 4 small same-size pictures together in a four square to give the illusion of a bigger painting. Or hang large in center and smaller on either size. Group a series of framed miniatures inside one large frame as a great solution to displaying tiny pieces.

66. It doesn’t always have to match:  A grouping doesn't have to be a matching set. It can be hung according to common colors or subject matter.

We're always happy to help and answer any questions you might have - there are no silly questions, trust us. Don't forget about our wonderful Sam, who can be hired to come into your home for an "Artful Makeover," which can include anything from helping you place paintings to rearranging furniture you already have. Why not start the new year off with a fresh new look comprised of things you already own?

What's your favorite way to hang? Are you a fan of one big showstopper piece or do you prefer the collected look of an art wall? We hang the gallery "salon style," which means a mixture of the two, and we recommend you give it a try as well.



Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Deconstructing the Abstract Painting: Don't Be Scared.

When you visit our gallery, you'll see all kinds of paintings hanging on the walls.  Beautifully painted landscapes and still lifes.  Seascapes and skyscapes.  Elegant florals and evocative figures.  And plenty of abstracts, too.  We love the mix and we've learned over the years that the key to understanding and appreciating abstract art is to quieten our minds and let our instincts and senses do the talking.
We love this dynamic abstract by Audrey Phillips. Light Vison, 
38 x 43, mixed media on panel. The palette is soothing, but the
composition is energized and compelling.
Abstract art, by definition, is a painting, sculpture or installation that does not depict a person, place or thing of the natural world.  Huh?  Believe us, we get lots of questions about the abstracts in the gallery and they usually sound something like this:

"I don't get this. What's it about?"
"My five-year-old could paint this."
"I like paintings I can understand."

To all these comments and more, we say: we understand you and we totally get where you're coming from.  Art can be intimidating and scary and leave you feeling unsure and uneasy - all of which goes against our grain at Huff Harrington. So, here are a couple tips to make the whole process of understanding abstract art more enjoyable and rewarding.  And, watch out.  If you're not already, you may become a convert.
Martica Griffin's Lovesick Blues (36 x 30, mixed media on 
canvas) is all about form and palette.
I'm Nervous!  Yes...abstract art can be a little nerve-wracking.   And that's because the responsibility of understanding it falls directly to the viewer.  When this happens, we like to gently lead the client into the painting with this analogy:  imagine the painting is a symphony.  Instead of closing your eyes and listening to the music, try closing your ears and just look at the painting.  Explore the painting on your own terms and come to your own conclusions.  Abstract art is all about form, line, palette and composition. And when those elements come together on a canvas, the results can be magical.
This lyrical painting by Liz Barber will effortlessly draw you in 
with its repetitive composition. Inspired by water? We think so. 
Sunset Surf, 48 x 60, mixed media on canvas.
What's the Right Answer?   There's not a right answer and there's not a wrong answer either - but you may have to work a little bit to figure that out.   Because there's no familiar image to relate to while viewing an abstract painting, you really have to open your mind and re-align what you've been taught about art.  You have to let go of pre-conceived notions and let your sense take over the driving.    We'll hear this: "Is the artist trying to convey water or a wave?  Because I'm not sure if that looks like a wave but I really like the way he/she put the paint in that one spot."  That visitor to the gallery just got an A+ for looking at the abstract painting for what it is, not what it's supposed to be.  It's all about being open to interpretation.
We love the composition of Melissa Payne Baker's Milestone I 
(30 x 22, mixed media on canvas) It's also full of textural 
nuances and the palette is warm.
Make It Personal:  It's best to see abstract art in person.   Because there's often not an identifiable subject in the painting, the nuances that create the painting can be lost in photography or on the internet. Because abstract art is rooted in non-tangible subjects, the  technical aspects of the painting become even more important.  The use of media can add texture, depth and dimension - all of which could be lost in a photograph.  Even better, try to meet the artist. Ask lots of questions. You'll begin to understand the reasoning behind the creativity- and the artist will be thrilled to talk about it.
Aaron Whitehouse painted this piece for a client. 
You really have to see his work in person to get the
 texture, depth and dimension that he incorporates.
 This one makes us think we're looking through a 
pool of water to a bottom made of beach glass.
My Five-Year-Old....:  it takes great skill to create a meaningful abstract piece. And what may look like random squiggles on a canvas or blotchy areas of paint are actually the result of a  perfect little storm of composition, form and aesthetic.  Study an abstract that you're drawn to for a while and all of sudden it all makes sense.
Personality Shouldn't Matter But It Does by Judy Cox (55 x 42, mixed media on canvas) We can't quite put our finger on it, but we love everything about this painting, including the title.
Let Your Heart Guide You:   Art's all about the emotional tug at your heart and if it's a calming seascape, an intriguing figure or an elegant floral that sends you to your happy spot, that's wonderful.  Don't force yourself to love something that scares you or makes you uneasy.
Keep an eye out for our new ad campaign: Art Talk.  We dole out some helpful little tips on understanding and collecting art.
But here's our little suggestion:  give it some time and keep your mind open.  Live with it for a day or two.  Remember it's a visual symphony and let yourself soar with it.  And, who may end up loving it. That's the elemental beauty of art: you just never know where it's going to take you or when it's going to steal your heart.

Ta ta.

P.S. visit our website to see more Art Talk Tips....
A Lunar Day, 60 x 48, mixed media on canvas by Christina Doelling, pulls all the elements of abstract art together in the most beautiful way. We're hooked!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Meet the artist : Andree Thobaty

Andree Thobaty, Village Scene, 16 x 16
Meg and I are of course never competitive with each other, except maybe in the healthiest way, such as, “Oh I thought of the same thing!” or “I was going to suggest that too.” So it’s no surprise that when one of us returned from a trip to France, elated and excited to have discovered the most fabulous new artist, the other one casually countered, “Oh I know her!” (and admitted sheepishly that she is fabulous – and darn, why didn’t I mention her first?).

The artist we were talking about was the now well-known and highly coveted Andree Thobaty, whom we have been representing happily for about five years.

It’s always such a pleasure to visit Andree in her little studio in France. First off, she is just the loveliest person imaginable, in her sweet, polite and enthusiastic way. Secondly, her studio is marvelously well organized, so it’s easy to sift through and make our pickings. And third, we just love the fact that this elegant, well-dressed person “of a certain age” as they put in France, is actually a terror with paint :  the looser, the more abstract the better! If she could throw it on the canvas, she would.
One of Andreee Thobaty's most recent abstracts
Andree has spent years perfecting her work by reducing the brush strokes to a bare minimum and applying the paint in blocky layers that translate to perfectly balanced abstract renditions of her subject matter.  She reminds me of those most fearsome tennis players:  the senior ladies who. with just the slightest controlled movement, can place the ball exactly where they want it -- and always out of reach from their huffing and puffing opponent.

Andree's painting technique has been admired by so many of our clients and fellow artists that is was only natural, on our last visit to France with Nancy Franke’s lovely group of artists, that one of their top to-do's was to paint with or at least meet the legendary Andree Thobaty.
Provence Village, 8 x 8
I called Andree a few days before arriving and asked if she could meet up with us to paint with our group of American artists. She apologized profusely, but because of a knee injury, she was indisposed to paint in plein air. Then I suggested that maybe I could swing by her studio and pick up some paintings because I was pretty sure that among this group of artists there would be several buyers, or at least admirers of her work. She apologized again and said that her gallery in France had sold out of her work completely over the summer, and that she had nothing left to show me. Then I just begged her to meet Nancy Franke and the artists for the afternoon, to which she responded with a resounding, “Oui bien sur!”

I had to leave the scene that day, but according to all present, Andree’s encounter with our little group of American artists was probably one of the most moving and enthusiastic bi-cultural love fests to occur on French soil -- since the liberation of France in 1945! Although few words were exchanged (since there was a significant language barrier), through gestures and smiles and paint brushes and palette knives, communication flowed seamlessly. The artists came back energized and excited to have met the iconic Andree. And Andree said it was one of the happiest moments of her life. Truly.
Andree Thobaty with Cathy and Nancy
Nancy, Debbie and Andree in Isle sur la Sorgue
I begged Andree to paint more for our gallery and sure enough, when I headed back to France a few weeks ago, I bought pretty much all of her new work – even the wet pieces!
Floral 8 x 8
Red roses, 6 x 6
Floral, 8 x 8
So our coffers are now filled with wonderful new work from Andree, which we are debuting this week at the gallery (and have just added to our website here).  We’re pretty sure it will sell fast – her talent and price point are an unbeatable combination – and then Meg and I will politely fight over who gets to visit Andree the next time. I can guarantee that whoever wins the draw will hear from Andree, over and over, how much it meant to her to meet Nancy Franke and her group of artists last September.

This is why we do what we do - and love every minute of it.

Ta ta,
Andree and Ann outside of her studio
PS: We are having a one-day sale for Friends and Family at the gallery on Saturday, December 8th, and will feature all of Andree's new work. If you are planning on giving the gift of art this season, what a fantastic opportunity to buy a highly coveted and popular artist at a very advantageous price!  We're excited to show off her new work.