right piece, right size

You have a wall that needs “something”. You know you want something special, something that illustrates your personality, something that uniquely represents your home, and, on a more practical side, something that fits the space well. Where do you even begin? There are so many beautiful pieces of artwork out there that it can be overwhelming if you simply dive in. These four tips should help you to focus in on what you are really looking for – or more importantly, help you to not get distracted by all of the other works that you fall in love with along the way.

2D or 3D
Traditionally we have decorated our walls with two dimensional works of art like paintings and prints but contemporary design affords us the creativity of come off the wall with three dimensional works. Wall sculpture can be a wonderful way to add even more visual appeal to your space.

When deciding between a more traditional two dimensional piece and a more contemporary three dimensional piece there are a couple things to keep in mind.

  • What is the traffic through the space? Do you have a lot of people moving through the space? Will they be getting close to the piece? You don’t want captivating three dimensional work of art that obstructs how people can move through the space. And you surely don’t want a piece that people will accidentally bump into. That could be a safety hazard for your guests and you risk the chance that they will damage the work of art. If the space has a lot of traffic that could interact negatively with the piece you may want to stick to two dimensional works of art the more tightly hug the wall.
  • Is a three dimensional work of art going to obstruct the space? Think about what else is in the space – windows, air vents, furniture, plants? You want to make sure that your artwork doesn’t interfere. It would be unfortunate to fall in love with a piece of artwork, hang it over your couch, and find out that your family and guests bump their heads on it every time they sit down on the couch because the piece extends away from the wall.

style and theme
Knowing your personal style is vital to making sure you select a piece that you will love for years to come. Do you prefer artwork that is abstract or representational? Are you a lovers of modern forms or more traditional themes? There is no right or wrong here. Maybe you have a traditional style home but prefer abstract works of art. Perhaps you live in a modern Silicon Valley loft but love traditional prints. This is purely your aesthetic. If your space “screams” for a modern abstract but that’s not what you love, your space may be happy with an abstract piece but you may not ever come to love it.

If your not sure what your aesthetic is, I recommend making a Wish List or Pinterest board and start saving images of works that you love. Eventually you will start to see your own personal aesthetic come out. If you find yourself saving lots of traditional landscapes they will start to take over your wish list or pin board.

Once you know your own personal tastes, that will help you to focus in on those themes and styles without being distracted or overwhelmed by all of the other styles out there.

Want to get a little more involved? Once you know what you like, start a wish list or pin board for each room in your house. You might find that that you like different themes or styles for different spaces. Maybe one space is very open and can handle bold, modern abstracts and another space requires more romantic pieces. Doing an exercise like this will also help you to start to understand how different themes and styles fit into different spaces.

color and material
Color is so important in our lives. It can make us happy. It can help to calm us down. It can speak of power. Colors compliment each other or clash with each other. Color can be bold or subtle. Combine that with the material that the piece is made from and you can speak volumes. Art glass typically shines and reflects the light. Ceramic tends to absorb light. Therefore a piece of art glass art and a piece of ceramic wall art will feel very different in the same space.

Think about the space where the work of art will hang. How much light will there be? Is the light natural or synthetic? An art glass or polished metal piece will shine in the light. A matte ceramic or fiber piece might not be bright enough in a dim room. Lighting from a harsh angle might pick up the edges of thick acrylic or oil paintings and accentuate the textures of bold brush strokes or swipes from a palette knife.

picking the right size
Now you know what you want your piece to look like, but how big should it be? The general rule is that a piece hung over furniture should be 75% the width of the furniture and hung 6″-12″ above the furniture. If you are hanging a piece of work on an empty wall, the general rule of thumb is to leave 3/8 the wide of the piece on both sides open. And don’t forget that you can do a gallery wall by filling your space with many smaller works of art. Of course rules are meant to be broken and you can select any size that you want to fill the space. Big and overwhelming to really make a statement? 4 smaller pieces that fill the space of a single piece?

Now that you have narrowed your focus and have an idea of what you want for your space, it’s time to start looking for just the right piece. You don’t need to narrow in based on the order above. Decide what’s most important to you and narrow in that order. For me, usually it’s two dimensional or three dimensional and then size is most important. I like to have a little wiggle room on the other aspects.

Let’s say I decide I want a three dimensional piece for my wall that is about 30″ wide and 40″ tall, it’s really simple to go into wall sculpture and narrow in on my width and height.

shop for artist made modern wall sculpture by size

Once I’ve narrowed in by height and/or width I can start to narrow in on themes and colors. This focus helps me to find just the right piece for my space without being overwhelmed by the amazing amount of beautiful works available to choose from.

By |September 28th, 2016|articles, Design|0 Comments

lisa bayne collection

When we launched apparel at Artful Home, we had one clear idea:  to offer distinctive clothing by small-batch American designers whose artful style meshed with ours.  We suspected that there were women out there – women like me! –  who were interested in clothes that didn’t look like everything else out there, women who cared as much about style as comfort, women who were not driven by trend.

While we love the designers with whom we are working, we have been frustrated not to be able to find some pieces in the market which we would like to offer you and so, in the spirit of creativity of this brand, I began to develop a collection of our own styles, styles I am collaborating with designers on.  It is being called, simply, the Lisa Bayne collection.  We are introducing a small collection for Fall 2016 with the hope to grow this collection each season as we hear from you how you like the pieces.

I take this collection seriously; it has my name on it. That means that I am being ultra careful about the fabrics, the fit, the colors, and the details.  Great style and great comfort are equally important to me.  Having spent the first half of my career as a designer, it is fantastic to be returning to the design world with a lifetime of experience under my belt and the knowledge of what I know I am looking for in clothes at this stage in my life.  I believe that clothes have to feel great on our bodies and make us feel like a million bucks.

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I hope you love these pieces and give them a try.  And I also hope you will tell me what else I can be doing to improve, what things you are looking for.

By |September 13th, 2016|Collections|1 Comment

to frame or not to frame? and what to ask your framer

Your decision to frame a painting, watercolor, drawing, or other 2D artwork depends upon several things: the features of the piece of art itself, the place you intend to hang it, and perhaps most important, your relationship with the art. Is it art you’ll want to live with for only a few years (to match a wall or furniture setting, for example)? Or is it truly valuable to you beyond its setting and worthy of long-term care?

It’s certainly possible to find paintings, drawings, photographs, and prints that don’t need a frame: you can simply take them home and hang them. Art created on newer materials, such as gallery wrapped canvases and cradled clayboard or birch panels, have wide finished edges and require no framing for display.

Many artists featured at Artful Home offer works like this. For example, Victoria Primicias’s small and larger paintings, such as Tender Reasons and Lesson Three are on wood panels with stained edges.  You can hang them immediately.

Edge view on Lesson Three by Victoria Primicias

Stained Edge on Lesson Three.

Gallery wrapped canvases are deeper than traditional canvases – 3/4” to 2 ¾” – and the canvas wraps completely around the edge. The artist treats the depth edge as a part of the work. A frame is not needed.  For example, Karen Hale’s acrylic paintings are painted on 1 ½” deep gallery wrapped canvas and are ready to hang.

Relic of the Past by Katherine Hale

Relic of the Past by Katherine Hale

View of canvas edge on Relic of the Past.

Conversely, works on paper, thinner traditional canvas, and other surfaces that don’t have a supporting internal framework will need to be framed or mounted in some way for protection and display. For example, Eugenie Torgerson’s work on deckle-edged paper would work best framed with a mat or float-mounted to reveal the deckle edge.

Before Memory - Wells Road by Eugenie Torgerson

Before Memory – Wells Road by Eugenie Torgerson

Leonard Moskowitz’s acrylic painting, Afternoon Walk, is a large painting (30”h x 40”w) on a traditionally stretched canvas that’s 1” deep. It is described as “ready for framing” – that is, it requires a frame.

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Afternoon Walk by Leonard Moskowitz

Where will you hang your art? The place you intend to hang your art will determine its longevity. Anything hung in direct sunlight or near a heat source will degrade. Ultraviolet light is very destructive to pigments, paper, canvas (and to practically everything else). Heat causes paint to crack, wood to shrink, canvas and paper to dry and age rapidly. Consider the spot carefully. Whether you frame your new piece or not, excessive sunlight and heat should be avoided. To a certain extent, UV damage can be mitigated with anti-UV glass, but not totally eliminated. Don’t hang something in the sun unless you don’t care that it won’t last.

If you forgo the “ready to hang” option and purchase a work of art that is “ready for framing,” there is one decision you have to make before you meet with a professional framer:

Do you want this artwork to last? That is, do you want your artwork framed to archival quality?

These two questions are actually the same question. A framer who works to archival standards will carefully use only materials that are acid-free: papers, mats, tabs, adhesives, even distilled water to moisten adhesives rather than tap water. Why? Because acidic materials are extremely destructive over time, and the destruction they wreak on artwork cannot be reversed. Yes, some acid staining and degradation could be partially restored with careful painstaking techniques, but it cannot be made new again. It’s better to go acid-free from the beginning. Museums use archival methods for all matted and framed art.  If you want your art to last, go archival. With this in mind, be certain the framer you choose is able to work to archival standards. Ask.

There are, of course, many other questions you can explore with your framer: mat colors, whether or not to float-mount a print with a deckle edge, to add glass or not, choices of frame. But these are personal aesthetic questions for specific artwork, questions that will allow you to develop a long and trusting relationship with your framer.

By |June 7th, 2016|articles|1 Comment

in the studio with sylvie rosenthal

If you lose your wallet, you hope someone thoughtful will find it for you…and if you’re in luck, that someone might by Sylvie Rosenthal.

Last winter, an Artful Home employee dropped her wallet in a snowbank and considered it gone for good. Little did she know that it would be found by an artist whose work she knew well. Because of their shared connection with Artful Home, Sylvie Rosenthal was able to locate the wallet’s rightful owner and return it to her without a penny misplaced.

This serendipitous occurrence is certainly a “small world” moment; it also reveals a bit of Sylvie’s character, though it tells you nothing about her vast creativity and expertise as a sculptor and woodworker. For that, you have only to step into her studio or learn a bit about her personal history. We were excited to have the opportunity to do just that on a recent spring afternoon, when Sylvie invited us into her Madison, Wisconsin, studio to have a look around.

Sylvie Rosenthal in her studio.

Sylvie Rosenthal in her studio.

Sylvie has been making things since the age of 5. Growing up, she spent a lot of time at the Eli Whitney Museum in New Haven, Connecticut, a hands-on, experimental children’s museum that nurtured her creativity and inventiveness. She worked there from third grade to eleventh, and admits that she sometimes went there instead of school. She has a continued relationship with the museum, teaching classes to kids in the summer and donating artwork to an annual fundraiser.

The museum’s emphasis on experimentation, risk-taking, and creativity left a lasting influence on Sylvie. She not only gained countless skills that she still uses today, but also learned that her talent for making things was valuable—even employable. This is part of the reason that working for herself was never a question—that, and the fact that both of her parents were self-employed while she was growing up.

Out to See, from the artist's "Animals and Architecture" series.

Out to See, from the artist’s “Animals and Architecture” series.

Sylvie went on to receive a BFA from the Rochester Institute of Technology, which instilled in her a dedication to craftsmanship. She has since studied and worked with many prominent woodworkers, and recently earned an MFA in sculpture from the University of Wisconsin.

Equilibrium Balance II, an interactive kinetic sculpture.

Equilibrium Balance II, an interactive kinetic sculpture.

Sylvie creates both 3-D and 2-D work, including this sculpture and photographic print.

Sylvie creates both 3-D and 2-D work, including this sculpture and photographic print.

Sylvie Rosenthal has a rich, multifaceted artistic practice. She creates imaginative furniture and mirrors with a hint of the unexpected. She crafts fascinating, technically complex sculpture, often with kinetic elements. She even builds custom cabinetry and experiments with photography. Among her many works of art, there is one piece that is especially beloved by Artful Home customers: the Birdie Mirror.

Sylvie Rosenthal's well-loved Birdie Mirror.

Sylvie Rosenthal’s well-loved Birdie Mirror.

This popular mirror was not originally intended for sale; rather, it was created as a meaningful gift. When her sister’s best friend and husband were expecting twins, Sylvie was asked to design a special mirror for them in celebration. She decided to create not one mirror but three: a large one for the parents, and a smaller one for each daughter, which they could hang up in their rooms as children and take with them once they were grown up. The four birds on each mirror represented the four family members. Needless to say, the new parents were thrilled with the heartfelt, heirloom-quality gifts.

Sometimes, a work of art takes on a life of its own—and Sylvie soon discovered that the Birdie Mirror had broad appeal. Now that she offers them at Artful Home, they have been featured in a number of catalogs and found their way into many delighted customers’ homes.

Wood birds await further carving and detailing.

Wood birds await further carving and detailing.

The first trio of mirrors was a labor of love, and every subsequent mirror requires just as much painstaking attention to detail. Each basswood bird is carved, sanded, and painted by hand, then individually fit to its own branch. The cherry wood frames were originally cut by hand using a router and band saw, but Sylvie now works with a local CNC router to achieve smoother, more even cuts. Once the pieces are cut, Sylvie carefully assembles, sands, and finishes them. At every step of the process, Sylvie takes care to ensure that the piece is well constructed and built to last.

The artist constructs the frame of a Birdie Mirror.

The artist constructs the frame of a Birdie Mirror.

What’s next for Sylvie? She tells us that she is currently fine-tuning aspects of her art business and developing concepts for a new line of home decor (stay tuned!). She hopes to ramp up this area of her business while maintaining her sculpture practice. Doing so may require some additional hands in the studio. Currently, she does nearly everything herself, only contracting assistants for particularly busy times (this is actually somewhat unusual in the area of woodworking). If her business increases, she may need regular help—and she hopes to be at that point sometime soon.

Sylvie Rosenthal shows us a series of new bud vases she has created.

Sylvie Rosenthal shows us a series of new bud vases she has created.

We love Sylvie Rosenthal’s work and have an even greater appreciation for her incredible range of skills and ideas after visiting her studio. We are excited to see her business continue to grow and thrive!

By |May 27th, 2016|spotlights|1 Comment

10 teapots infused with creativity

Whether you’re a tea aficionado looking to serve up your daily “Earl Gray” with a splash of personality or an art lover hoping to add some new flavors to your collection, you’ll find plenty to savor in the world of artist-made teapots.

Teapots have been around for hundreds of years, having originated in China and then spread throughout Asia, Europe, and beyond. The history of teapots is steeped in a fascinating potpourri of social customs, culinary tastes, and cultural aesthetics of people across the globe. This rich history gives artists plenty of inspiration to draw from as they create their own variations of this storied vessel.

Here are ten remarkably creative teapots from our collection—everything from beautiful reinterpretations of classic forms to surprising shapes that defy the imagination.

Teapots53_RonMello Edits

Boasting elegant curves adorned with a rich, iron red glaze, Teapot #53 by Ron Mello is a striking example of the artist’s interest in ancient forms and traditional ceramic techniques.

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Suzanne Crane’s botanical inspiration is fully evident in her Basket-Handled Teapot with Red Berries, which pairs impressions from real plants with a dramatically vining handle.

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Mary Obodzinski plays with proportion and texture in her out-of-the-ordinary teapots. A repeating floral pattern enlivens the dramatic, flattened silhouette of her Zoey Teapot.

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Who says teapots have to be round? Vaughan Nelson’s hand-built Blackline Teapot is a celebration of playful pattern in an unexpected geometric shape.

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And while we’re at it, who says teapots have to be, well, vessel-shaped? The arched form of Driving Teapot in Charcoal by Lilach Lotan is a whimsical (and functional) surprise.

SupermodelTeapot_CarolTM Edits

Supermodel Teapot by Carol Tripp Martens is an abstracted form that may not immediately register as a teapot. Its curvaceous form suggests the organic shapes of the human figure—and yes, it can actually pour!

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A water-pouring vessel is transformed into a fire-breathing dragon in this piece by Nancy Y. Adams. More sculptural than functional, Black Dragon Tea II uses the teapot as a starting point to celebrate the grandeur of this fantastical creature.

DancingShiva_MichaelTorre

Dancing Shiva by Michael Torre pushes the the teapot into purely sculptural territory. Created from unglazed red clay, it is not intended to be functional, but its designation as a teapot makes its flowing shape even more fascinating.

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Sometimes, a sense of humor adds the perfect touch of whimsy and creativity to a piece. Such is the case with Riding the Wild Teapot, a petite metal teapot by Mary Ann and Malcolm Owen.

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Likewise, The Snake that Ate the Teapot 2 by Sylvie Rosenthal uses the form of a teapot for a surprising (and humorous) effect. Hand-carved in wood, this intricate piece is meant to be displayed as a sculpture rather than filled with your favorite oolong.

From sculpture to utilitarian vessels, these ten pieces illustrate some of the ways artists explore and experiment with the classic teapot, transforming it into something fully their own. And whether you’re a tea aficionado, an art collector, or both, the world of artist-made teapots is brimming with extraordinary pieces to dazzle your senses.

By |May 24th, 2016|articles|Comments Off on 10 teapots infused with creativity