April 27, 2017

Choosing Artwork For Your Home

Choosing Artwork - Splurges and Bargains

If I have a choice, I will always purchase original one-of-a-kind works of art to place in my home.  

Spring Freckles by Alena Vyborna
24" x 24"
Like this one.  I fell in love with it when I first laid eyes on it and I still love it.  It is painted on silk and the depth of colour and vibrancy stole my heart.  I admit that this was a bit of a splurge for me.  You may spy it hanging over the mantle from time to time.  It moves around the house season to season.
I bought this at the Buckhorn Art Festival a few years ago.  I believe Alena, the artist, lives in Lindsay, Ontario.
I did try to contact Alena before I posted this, but was unsuccessful.

I know that owning original art sounds like an impossibility.  Most art will always and forever be out of reach for a person of my limited means.

However; there are ways to find art at affordable prices.  There are times too when you will have to pay full price if you really want the piece.

Trendy art that you think looks good today.   But, when decorating styles change next year or in five years will it have been a wise investment?  

Cute, yes?
This one doesn't belong to me.

If it matters to you that the art increases in value, try to imagine what the market for the art you are interested in will be like in ten years, twenty years, or more.  Will it hold its value, increase in value, or end up worth less than you paid for it.  We can never be entirely sure what the market will be like when it comes to art so it is a bit of a gamble if you are buying purely for financial gain.

Beetlejuice on black velvet
I don't own this either.

I suppose there will be collectors who would buy a certain genre no matter what it is just because they like it. 
Think about whether or not you will still like it in ten years.

It may help when choosing art to look at paintings by some of the Masters like Michelangelo, Reubens, and others just to study how they use colour, light, and technique in their work.

The Starry Night
The Starry Night by Vincent vanGogh.  It hangs in MoMA, NYC

Check out some of the more contemporary artists as well.

Andy Warhol
Gold Marilyn Monroe by Andy Warhol at MoMA, NYC

I do not profess to be an art expert and I certainly do not understand the art market.  It can be very volatile, at best.  I don't buy for investment, but rather I buy to fulfil my love of art.

I can't imagine buying a piece of art because I think I should own something by a certain artist, then bringing it home and not wanting to put it on my wall because I really don't like it.  

For me, the fun part is the hunt and going to art shows and galleries.  You can get a feel for the type of art that pleases you.  You can meet the artists too.  

Buying new artists or emerging artists can be a smart way to obtain original art.  Because the artist is unknown, their work can sell for a fraction of the price of better-known artists.
Those Warhol paintings selling for $40 million today once sold for $300. to $500.

Some of the pieces I have are what I call Stumble-Upons as you will see in the next two examples.

You can sometimes pick up bargains at local auctions that don't primarily sell art.  
I once bought a lot of three paintings at an auction for $40.00.  The auction specialised in some antique furniture and farm implements, not art and not a lot of art lovers attended.  The two larger pieces were not very good and I didn't like them.  I either gave them away or donated them to a garage sale for charity.

8" x 10" Oil on Board by Jane Patricia Ruff

The smaller painting I did like and kept.  I believe Jane Ruff still paints, but I was unable to find out much information about her.  Some of her work had been featured in a gallery in Peterborough, Ontario at one time.

These last two little paintings measure about 3.75" x 6" each without frames.  The scenes are of the Gatineau Hills in Quebec.  The artist is known for painting miniatures - doll house sized oil paintings.  I didn't know anyone did that until I researched her.  These two are larger than the miniatures.  I haven't been able to find a lot of information about Joanne Modderman.

Top:  "Reflextion" Black Lake Gatineau Hills 1986
Bottom:  "The Four Neighbours"
both by Joanne Modderman

I bought them at my local Salvation Army Thrift Store for $5.00 each.  That's right.  I couldn't believe it either, but that's what they cost.

My Sources for Art Collecting

Art Shows and Galleries - These are always inspirational.  You can learn a lot about your tastes in art.  You can often find something within your budget.

The Artists - Connect with them and get to know them.  Generally, they are very willing to talk about their work.  You can get good background knowledge directly from the artist which, in itself, can be fascinating.  Sometimes they will come down a little in price or steer you towards another piece you can afford.  Don't expect artists to discount their work for you, though.  Often the piece is fairly intricate and has required many, many hours of work to complete.  Always be respectful of their efforts.

Auctions - Try to get to the auction early enough to inspect the art you want to bid on and set a price limit for yourself.

Thrift Stores - Rarely, but sometimes you will find a piece.  It is worth taking a look, though.

Garage and Estate Sales - When it is time for one generation to release the previous generation's belongings, it is possible to find some decent, but otherwise inexpensive art.  

Gifts - I have been the recipient of gifted art.  One piece was given to me by a wonderful friend and other pieces were passed down to me from family.

Look for art everywhere.

I can never tell you what to buy, how much to spend, or if what you buy will be worth a lot of money some day.

I can tell you to buy what you love and if it ends up being worth something someday then you made a good choice.

The reason I prefer original art is because it is the real thing.  Someone thought about their idea for a painting, planned it, sketched it, changed it perhaps more than once before they put brush to paint and with their own hand painted a piece of art.  It is forever an extension of the artist.  It is not a picture of a painting and hopefully, it is not an imitation of someone else's work.  It is real and original and one of a kind.

Now that you have seen a little of my collection and heard the stories behind them, I hope I have encouraged you to source original pieces of art for yourself.  I believe you will enjoy living with them as I do.

Thanks for stopping by.

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April 24, 2017

April in the Garden

April in the Garden

By April many of the birds have returned from their winter sojourn.


In April the garden is just beginning to come to life.

The crocuses in the lawn are blooming.


They are blooming in the garden


Crocuses are one of the first flowers to come out as soon as the snow melts.


On a walkabout, we found a couple of chrysalides.  These ones are for the much appreciated Praying Mantis that help control unwanted pests in the garden.


Fruit tree buds will soon be open and blooming.



 We have plum, cherry, and crabapple.  I hope the crops will be good this year.


 This beautiful Spring pot was a gift.


The fields are pretty much ready, but, it is too early to plant.


The sky through the Blue Spruce was so blue, I had to take a picture.


Daffodils are starting to open



This is the rhubarb showing itself.  It is not up enough to harvest.  I hope it is ready soon.  I had a couple of requests for Rhubarb Upsidedown Cake.
Can't Wait.

Thanks for stopping by.

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April 20, 2017

Set the Table - Spring Luncheon

Set the Table - Spring Luncheon


When we are entertaining in the Country we tend to do it more during Spring, Summer, and Fall before and/or after driving becomes hazardous for people coming out from the city.


Come on in.


Everyone looks forward to a drive in the country and the promise of a home-cooked meal when they arrive.

Today's Menu

Fresh-baked Bread
Garden Salad
Mango Salad
Roasted leg of Lamb
Ham with Mustard and Brown Sugar glaze
Roasted Potato Wedges
Steamed Cauliflower with butter
Roasted Sweet Potato
Steamed Basmati Rice

A selection of Red and White wines

A variety of Cheesecakes
Apple Pie and Ice Cream


The chick salt and pepper come out at this time of year.  By the end of May, there will be baby chicks in the chicken coop.


The flowers are Calendula and a yellow vase is filled with Forsythia twigs that are about to burst open.


I like using this silver for luncheons as the pieces are slightly smaller than usual.


This dish pattern with its Green and Yellow is so cheerful in the Spring and Summer.


We often round up fresh eggs from another farm for guests to take home.  We have two large vegetable gardens and guests are taken out to gather fresh vegetables and herbs, when in season.


Elements Used in the Table-setting.

White Linen Tablecloth - brought back from St. Thomas, W.I.
Placemats - Two different green placemats were used, both from Home Sense.
China - French Garden, Villeroy & Boch
Light Blue Napkins - Home Sense
Silverware - Louis XV by Birks
Crystal - Waterford
Yellow chicks - Home Sense

Thank you for stopping by


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April 17, 2017

Painted Furniture Part 2

Painted Furniture Part 2

If you missed Painted Furniture Part 1 here is the link

How Can You Know When to Paint?

You will become a detective.

**  The furniture should give clues.  It is good to know the different types wood that went into furniture production in the area where you live, other parts of the country, and overseas.  I found a link to the Museum of Furniture that has good pictures of different types of wood. Wood Species in Furniture
You can compare wood colour and grain with this site.  Try to figure out with what you are working.

** Check drawers, inside doors, and backs of furniture.  You are looking for furniture maker markings.


Sometimes they are burned into the wood.  In this case, it was on the inside of the drawer.  Sometimes the markings are on a piece of paper that is pasted to a surface under a table or chair or back of the furniture.

The marking above is a little hard to read, but it says "National Table Company".
With a little investigation, I found out that this piece of furniture originated with 
North American Bent Chair Company started by J.G. and A.B. Hay (from Woodstock) in Owen Sound. Associated with National Table Company and Owen Sound Chair Company

Further to that, I found out that the National Table Company was established in 1898 - 1929 and then again from 1938 - 1960.  Right away I noticed that they closed during the Great Depression and re-opened just before WW2.

With some further digging, I might be able to find furniture catalogues, if I'm lucky or references to the types of furniture that were being built at this company.

** Check the construction of furniture for clues.  Drawers are often dovetailed, the bottoms of drawers can be one solid piece, the backs of furniture can be made of tongue and groove boards and not thin plywood.  Other clues are if chairs and sofas have horsehair or what looks like excelsior or thin wood filings as stuffing for seats and backs.


** Another clue is that well built good furniture is heavy.  The Mid-Century Buffet above will weigh a lot.

After you have looked for all of these things, you may still be in the dark.  If you are, take pictures and ask antique dealers, try to find the piece on line, or ask someone who knows about wood to identify it for you.

You can still get copies of Sears Roebuck Catalogue from 1897 and I think other years are available too.  They are reproduction copies, of course.  The catalogue has some very good renditions and descriptions of furniture they were selling then.

Sears & Roebuck 1897

Once you are accustomed to styles, construction, finishes, etc. you will quickly be able to assess pieces of furniture.

Reasons to Paint

There are some very good reasons to paint furniture.

** Someone has already painted it.  I'm not talking about factory painted furniture, but a previous owner has decided it would look better with paint.  I'm talking about pieces like my orange dresser that cannot be brought back to its former glory.


** Furniture that has been damaged with scratches or gouges that would require perhaps wood filler to fix.

**  Rescued furniture that is otherwise going to the landfill or thrift store.  People are not very often throwing out precious antiques.

** Also, furniture that can only partially be salvaged - perhaps the drawers or spindles, etc.

** I think that any furniture that comes from a "flat-pack" store is fair game for a paint job.  I've seen some pretty nifty looking paint applications on these pieces.


** Sometimes the finish is just too far gone to buff up.  I must say, though, that most of my furniture is not new.  It is old and some of it antiques.  There are some nicks and dings and for the most part, I just don't see them.  Perhaps because I choose not to notice.  But, when furniture is painted and then the paint is scratched off in places and then powders and dark waxes are used to age the piece it is hard to see the difference.  I do like the look of painted furniture, though.  I feel torn.

** Paint today is not what it used to be.  Painting over old finishes is much easier today and can be done with very little preparation.  As little as two coats of paint can completely transform a piece of furniture.

** Paint has been used in ways I'm sure many of us have never thought about.  Throughout history, during times of war or invasion, people have tried to disguise very expensive furniture by painting it.  The paint covered over all of the beautiful wood, the marquetry, the ormolu (gilded brass or copper), and hid the craftsmanship and joinery.  Invaders, thinking the furniture was peasant furniture and not worth the effort would pass it by and look for better loot to carry home.

Drenched in Ormolu

Even though we are not at war and we are not being invaded, paint still comes to the rescue.  It has saved many pieces of furniture from being discarded. 

 Paint is not to be discounted for its contribution in making our homes and furniture so much more appealing.

I would only urge you to go slowly when considering painting furniture.  At some point, the current styles and trends will end.  It will happen and something new or different will take its place.  Chances are that the beauty of unpainted wood will reign again, someday.

Whether you choose to paint the furniture or not I leave you with a quote from Natalie Morales

"Furniture is meant to be used and enjoyed." Natalie Morales

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