Choosing art like an expert: painting or print?

Choosing the right art medium to feature in your home is just as vital as choosing the right sized art piece to display on your chosen wall. However, the main difference is that the chosen art medium is more of a personal choice—whereas the correct art sizing is more based on logic and maths. This means you need to tap into your psyche to understand first—the message you wish to convey to your intended audience. Then grasp a personal understanding of the general feeling you want to evoke for your intended audience and your home on a daily basis.

What is an artistic medium?

An artistic medium refers to the type of material used to create a work of art, be it paintings, photographs and everything in between. Today, there is said to be 100+ art mediums which even include the human body. If you frequent an art museum, it’s likely you have seen the accompanying card to the featured artwork, which outlines the name of the piece, the artist’s name and the medium which was used to create the piece of art. For example, a painting might have a listing ‘oil on canvas’, whereas a sculpture might state whether it’s made from marble or steel.

Existing art mediums.

Some traditional art mediums include oil paints, watercolours, acrylic paints, graphite pencils, coloured pencils, charcoal, pastels, chalk and pen and ink. As the art world developed and time progressed—newer art mediums were introduced in the form of three-dimensional art such as carvings, castings, models and construction.

Art mediums continued to evolve with the introduction of newer ways of thinking which continued to evolve different artistic movements in the world. This included mediums such as collages, assemblage, found objects, altered books and art journaling. Others include mosaics, aerosols, floral designs, rock art, food art, clay and more.

One of the most modern mediums is photography—and today you can find landscape photography, documentary photography, portrait photography, nude photography and digital photography all around the globe and readily available for purchase. Photography is an ever changing and commonly utilised art medium embraced by many advanced and amateur artists alike. They use this particular medium to produce striking art pieces that can be featured in homes, offices and commercial buildings.

Where to start.

Start by asking yourself: “Do I have a message I want to convey?”—Due to how broad art can be, many mediums are not restricted to conveying one single emotion, however, they can convey an array of emotions depending on the artist’s personal intentions with the piece. It’s safe to say that some mediums are more conducive to certain emotions and visuals in comparison to others. For example photographs can sometimes be more realistic for obvious reasons rather than whimsical—and monochrome charcoal drawings require more shading and depth in order to convey a more powerful message as they don’t use colours which naturally evoke certain emotions in people.

What type of art inspires you?

Art can be found in many forms, not just in your typical gallery. Think about what you surround yourself with and what has made an impact on you in the past. This may be an abstract watercolour piece you’ve seen in a hotel you stayed at that made you feel calm—or you may have a favourite Neo-noir film and you want to display that style as a photograph in your living area to create a cinematic feel in your home.

If you are longing to travel, but are caught up in the daily grind—a photograph of the Hong Kong concrete jungle may keep you feeling momentarily content. Or an oil painting of Bondi beach may let you feel carefree and relaxed when you gaze at it.

If you want to challenge your audience’s brain to come up with their own interpretation of art in your home, acrylic abstract art stimulates the high-levels of the brain responsible for creativity and imagination. Art can be one of the most effective tools to portray your inner emotions and staying true to these will help you appreciate your chosen piece on a daily basis.

Mixing art styles in your home.

Mixing art of different styles, mediums and periods can sometimes be confusing and daunting for those who aren’t experienced in this area. A main goal when mixing art mediums in your home is to make your chosen pieces seem like a collection. As if all your pieces have been gathered overtime and purchased at different increments, however, there is still a level of cohesion in your art display. Using different mediums to create an element of contrast in your home is important to give your interior design character and depth. The last thing you want is to purchase all the same medium or style of photo as this can look ultra-contemporary and empty.

If you have a couple of charcoal sketches, add some variation in your art collection with a brightly coloured oil or modern watercolor painting. If you love landscape photography, use a beautiful staged, crisp photograph then incorporate pencil sketches of florals and plants relevant to your main photograph to continue that theme. It’s best not to overfill your home with too much of the same art medium or subject. For example, even though you may love dogs and they evoke positive emotions in you—that you wish to convey in your home—filling multiple walls with dog oil paintings on canvas can be an overkill. You can ensure your favourite dog oil painting is the focal artwork in your main living area—but incorporate abstract acrylic pieces and black and white photography elsewhere to give your home personality and balance. The main message is that you shouldn’t ever be afraid of mixing art mediums throughout your open plan living spaces or in multiple rooms and areas of your home!

What’s the rule with gallery walls?

You have probably seen online multiple gallery walls that mix art mediums and media to create an artistically balanced wall that works cohesively with the existing decor of a home. Creating a gallery wall in your home may seem high pressure but it’s actually quite simple and difficult to get wrong. After all, art is a personal journey and the intended audience will take what they can from your chosen display even if it’s not to their particular liking. In saying that, if you are intimidated by the idea of mixing mediums in your gallery wall—start with your feature piece.

Your feature piece can be whatever you are most drawn to and the piece you want to highlight the most—which may be a photo, print, or painting. A highly popular gallery wall arrangement that has maximum effect is choosing different mediums in black and white otherwise known as a monochrome design. This is the simplest way to create a gallery wall as you have the freedom to mix any medium you desire, and they all will still tie in perfectly as there is a common denominator being the black and white palette. This works fantastic with photography, pencil sketches and abstract pieces.

Frame choice.

When combining pieces which don’t have such a common denominator find something that can tie them all in together. The easiest option is unifying all the frames by using the same coloured frame. This definitely doesn’t mean they need to be all the same size with the same matting, they simply need to be all white, all black or all natural for example. For the viewer this will immediately connect your art pieces regardless of if one is a pastel acrylic painting and the other is a charcoal sketch.

Insight on colour.

If you’re using a lot of different shapes and interesting textures, keep the overall colour scheme somewhat simple. If you’re wanting to create something unique and thought-provoking which is quite mismatched, try to stick to a similar colour scheme. For example, focus on a pop of colour such as magenta then keep all other chosen pieces in a similar neutral colour palette of cream, ivory, white and sand. You may even want art that is primarily black and white with a pop of colour such as red. Another tip is to add art to your house that incorporates colours already present in your space. In the majority of cases, sticking to a consistent scheme is cohesive, sophisticated, and complementary to your existing home design.

If you want to play it safe your most significant piece of artwork should have a background colour that matches your wall colour. If you are purchasing new art pieces be sure to reference the colour wheel to find complementary shades. Choose art for your home that introduces bolder shades of the same colour scheme. Your wall colour does not have to restrict your palette but instead serves as a baseline for your evolving sense of personal style.

When you are trying to successfully mix your art mediums together, also keep in mind the primary colours in each of your chosen pieces. Pairing a classic oil painting with a beautiful watercolour can absolutely work, but try to choose varying colour palettes since both pieces are paintings and therefore will likely have a lot of movement. When you have a collection of art in many varying styles or periods of time, it does help visually to create some continuity in your home by opting for collecting pieces that are in a similar colour palette. It helps create cohesiveness and unify all the different styles and mediums together in your home.

Art styles and texture.

Art styles can undoubtedly be combined and your style choice should be based on what you’re into from a design perspective and on what you personally would like to look at each day. If you have a modern piece in black and white, feel free to mix it with a brightly coloured floral photograph or map, or a delicate etching that provides a different perspective. Using different media is the ideal way to create more interest surrounding your collection. Give your art collection something that offers some dimension and individuality. Often these chosen pieces can be displayed with or without a frame (that depends on your personal preference). You may have an intricate tapestry, a pendant, a collectable, a certificate or an antique piece of jewellery you want to add to your collection. Don’t feel discouraged to not include your special items because they are unconventional. Art is about embodying who you are and portraying this to your intended audience.

It’s all in the detail.

What you want to achieve is a home or room within your home that has visual interest but isn’t overwhelming to the eye or too barren either. This is about striking a balance in the scale and detail of your art collection. Pieces notorious for possessing many intricate details, such as architectural prints and botanicals tend to look best in groups. This strategy will help to tone down or minimise the vibrant subject matter to create a more simplified visual for your intended audience. Remember that if you create a grouping or gallery wall display your eye has the ability to take this grouping in as one large piece as opposed to 6 or 12 individual elements too. Adding something extra creative such as a large scale photograph, abstract landscape or charcoal portrait to the grouping would also be highly effective.

Room choice.

All the discussed strategies on mixing art mediums discussed above can be employed in every room of your home. Use these tips and techniques as a baseline for styling your dining room, your expansive open plan living area and even your bedroom. Be sure to factor in the furniture in your space and your existing interior design strategy in order to create a cohesive design scheme within your home. The last thing you want is a complete Victorian themed art collection displayed in an ultra-modern, inner city apartment with ikea furniture. Use your imagination, but also remain logical when curating a new art collection or adding to an existing one.

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