Filling your home with art can be extremely intimidating. How do I make sure the colors go with my room? What size is appropriate for my space? Now that I've picked something out, how do I frame it? How do if I know if this art is even good?
I'm hoping to be able to help answer a lot of these questions in future posts. But for now, instead of getting lost in trying to figure out what is "right" I think it can be really helpful if we first ask, "what is meaningful?"
Art is personal. It's a piece of your heart hanging on a wall declaring "I believe this to be beautiful and important and interesting." So if we let our instincts guide, we can curate art for a space that reflects who we are and what we love.
As you start thinking through creative ways to incorporate meaningful art into your home, I've got four ideas of places to start.
1. Fill your home with art that tells your family history.
This doesn't necessarily have to be art passed down from generation to generation (although if you are lucky enough to have that, bless you) but rather fill your walls and shelves with things that remind you of the people you love. This can be handwritten notes or recipe cards, sheet music from a favorite song, or old family photographs.
Above the piano in our home hangs vintage sheet music from the musical Oklahoma. I grew up watching old Rogers and Hammerstein musicals with my Grammy. She loved these musicals so much in fact, at her funeral we closed the service by all singing "Oh What a Beautiful Morning." Seeing this music every time I sit down to play the
piano brings me so much joy.
2. Fill your home with art that captures significant places.
There is something inherently beautiful about capturing your most cherished spaces in a piece of art. It is that kind of beautiful that gives you a lump in your throat as you think about all that a certain place has meant to you. Perhaps I am biased since I have spent the last four years sketching and painting home portraits, but I deeply believe in this kind of art. A watercolor illustration of your childhood home, a charcoal sketch of the place you got engaged, or a landscape painting that captures the unbelievable trip you took in college. Remind yourself of the places you've come from and have shaped the person you are.
I prefer displaying home illustrations on a shelf layered with other pieces. The texture of the handmade paper in the floating specimen frame adds subtle interest to the whole shelf.
3. Fill your home with art you've collected on your travels.
I can't think of a more romantic way to remember a trip than through a piece of art. While I don't have a significant amount of art from travels in my own home, it is a collection I hope to grow.
But even if you aren't purchasing an original painting from an artist on the streets of Paris, there are plenty of ways you can capture meaningful experiences in your home.
A few years ago a dear friend took me out thrifting (a hobby we share). We spent the afternoon browsing through treasures and she lovingly providing a space for me to process through some harder things I was going through. I ended up purchasing a small original oil painting and now when I see it, I am reminded of that friend's consistency and compassion in my life.
4. Fill your home with artwork that makes you feel something.
One of the most powerful commissioned works I have ever done was for a family whose youngest daughter has very significant developmental delays. As they shared their story the imagery of water was a recurring theme. In the early years of her life, before they had a clear diagnosis, they described the experience as swimming against a current, being trapped beneath a wave. They want a painting that captured the breakthrough of joy and peace, of coming up out of the water for a breath.
At its core, I think that is what art is. It is pure instinct. It serves very little function in a home apart from adding beauty and depth and story. Art is good when it makes you feel something.
As an artist, I consider a huge privilege to listen to the stories of others and then be trusted to create something that captures it in a beautiful way. Original or commissioned art is such a rich investment in creating a space that reflects a part of your story. But even if original or commissioned work isn't in your budget, as you are curating reproductions and prints, allow yourself to connect with the work...beyond just if it is has the right colors. Does it make you feel something?
When we allow ourselves to connect with art, we can fill our homes with photographs and abstracts and sketches and paintings that carry tremendous meaning. Our homes become a reflection of who we are, lovingly layered with beauty and significance.