guest post: poetic & chic.
For this momentous occasion, I’m going to talk about something I’ve never posted on before: my gallery wall. After I expounded so forcefully in my Pin-It-Forward post about having art in the home, I knew that in all fairness I really needed to share more of my own art collection. My little gallery is one of my favorite things about my apartment; each piece tells a story, but even my closest friends haven’t heard them all!
Let me begin by saying that every successful design project has a number of constraints working against it. In may case, the main wall of my apartment is about 20 feet long with no interesting architectural features other than an oddly-placed lighting sconce. Another constraint is that my landlord frowns on creative painting, so I have to leave the walls as-is. While both of these are annoying, after lots of thought, arranging and re-arranging, I came up with a great group of art that stretches across the room.
I don’t want anyone to be intimidated when I used the word “art”. Almost all of these pieces are posters, postcards, art I created myself, or things I purchased really inexpensively. To be honest, I think the framing cost more than all of the artwork combined! Framing can get expensive; I think the best approach is to pick your favorite pieces or those with odd dimensions that won’t fit standard frames, and get those priced first. If you spend your budget on your most important pieces, you can generally do okay with the rest. In my case, I think only one or two pieces needed custom frames, the rest were all ready-made. A cheaper alternative is to get custom mats, which worked really well for me. In the end, I chose gilt frames to warm up the room, but kept them more modern and streamlined. Two of the pieces have teal blue frames bringing a nice counterpoint.
The central piece is a print of Jack Vettriano’s Singing Butler. I love the romance of this piece and it’s the largest work on the wall. As I planned the arrangement, I placed this one in the middle and then arranged everything around it. (Doing this on the floor is a good way to go.) The other piece that defined the wall is a tall, beautiful watercolor of three red poppies. My Mom bought this for me from a street artist in Florence, Italy. Its oblong shape required a custom frame, but it deserved it! It’s height made it double the size of my smaller pieces, so I came up with a tall-short-tall-short pattern across the wall, doubling-up where needed.
The first piece in my group is a black-and-white photo I took for a photography class at UC Davis. I was in the library and photographed the window just as the sun was setting. I caught the trees on the quad, the window, plus the reflection of the people in the library. The next piece after the poppies is a drawing I did of Camille Claudel’s sculpture ‘The Waltz’. This sculpture is in the Musée Rodin in Paris, and I spent a long afternoon devoted to drawing it one day.
Also from my Paris days are a fabulous postcard for Gitanes cigarettes, chosen merely because I love the graphic of the girl with guitar, and the red background brings a lot of color. I also framed the famous “Le Frou-Frou” print that one finds on almost every corner in Paris. I just love this image – it’s so sexy and cute!
From my postcard collection, I framed four hand-tinted postcards. The colors are lush and really vintage-looking, and they just make me happy to look at them. Another piece that’s pure joy is an actual photograph my Grandma Ida took of her two dogs, Rowdy & Juney after she gave them a bath in the backyard. This is a hand-colored photo from the 1930s and always hung in my Grandma’s office. I reframed it, and it looks better than ever.
The Picasso image of a kissing couple is also a postcard, probably purchased in a museum in France, but I can’t remember which one. I do know that I purchased the postcard of Tamara de Lempicka’s Young Lady with Gloves during the Art Deco show at the Legion of Honor museum a few years back. She’s in a gorgeous burlwood frame that is the perfect accompaniment to her art deco attitude.
The fun advertising images of Jacques Leonard fabrics is something I found on eBay. It’s a page from an old magazine, but I love the clever motif of the fabric bolts becoming an evening gown. The last piece on the wall is a small print I purchased in Venice, Italy and carried all over Europe during my student days. It’s small and quiet, and shows a classic Venetian canal. I saw it in a gallery and chose it because I was traveling by myself and feeling really lonely. Somehow the image captured exactly how I felt.
I hope all of this inspires someone to put together a gallery of what they really like. Art doesn’t need to be precious or important, just important to you!