Almost everything I have on my walls is an original, either a painting or a print (I mean silkscreen, engraving or woodcut, not a reproduction). I have a long history of buying art directly from artists, mostly because I used to work a lot of craft shows when I was a printmaker and again when I was a potter.
I don’t work craft shows any more, but a couple of months ago David and I were having breakfast at Bobber’s in Bruce Mines, where we stop once or twice a week on the way home from work. The owner paints, and many of her pictures are on the walls. Most of them are landscapes, lighthouses, waterscapes, the kind of thing you would see in our lovely part of Northern Ontario. But a few months ago she hung up an abstract, and it captivated me. I couldn’t stop looking at it. I knew it was one of those pieces that I had to have in my life.
The thing is, Hildegard sells her paintings. Many of them have price stickers on them. Occasionally one disappears. This one didn’t have a sticker, but I didn’t want it to disappear from my life. I asked the price, heart in throat. Maybe it wasn’t for sale. Maybe it wasn’t going to be in my range.
Neither was true. The price was well below the limit I’d set myself – and that limit always has an upward-negotiation range. It was so low, in fact, that I asked if she wouldn’t take more – which she wouldn’t. She didn’t even have a name for it, but I did. I call it “Angels and Elementals”.
Now this painting – the one at the top of the page – is on my living room wall, and it makes me happy every time I look at it. I believe that if you see a piece of art you love, you should buy it if you possibly can. I also believe you don’t haggle with artists – goodness knows most of them are woefully underpaid for their work and materials, let alone their talent.
It occurred to me lately that over the years I’ve had some amazing bargains, all unasked for, when I buy a piece I love. The thing is on sale. The gallery is paying the taxes that day. The artist likes me. Something happens, and work I love comes into my hands, and I don’t have to skip dinner to buy it. I am, incidentally, willing to skip dinner to buy art, and I’ve done it a time or two.
Maybe the universe loves my attitude. Maybe it doesn’t care at all. But, honestly, I’ve been incredibly lucky in being able to own art that calls to me. I just wanted to share that.