Painting the Picture on Artwork

“This was modern art, all right, and it wasn’t so bad. It made me smile. I decided that maybe if people didn’t try so hard to understand it, they would get along with it better.”

Michael Kernan, Smithsonian July 1997

ID-100151076My father is awesome at finding artwork that speaks to people. He always finds exceptional black and white art, fantastic frames and at times questionable pieces that leave you [me] in awe.

The one thing I have learned overtime from him [and my own experience] is what most people seem to be drawn to when looking for exceptional vintage or antique wall hangings.

“Even though people interpret art differently it has come to light for me what tends to be more popular in the eyes [or on the eyes] of viewers.”

Here are some types of artwork that are an easy buy and sell or something you can put in your own home that will leave people speechless or on a differing note begging to start a conversation.

1. Black and White Inuit Artwork – There is something really captivating about a white background which is snow without even the slightest brush stroke to depict snow. Running dogs and a sled painted or etched in black. The more modern looking the better! I have fallen in love with a few simplistic pieces that were just timeless.

2. Paintings that speak to the past – Fishing boat scenes down by the harbour, men on horses with guns and hunting dogs running below them…the list goes on.  Though there have been many advancements in the world as we know it, people still seem to be drawn to the activities that were once an everyday part of life and basic means of survival. Sometimes these items from the past can just jog our memory or remind us of stories our grandparents may of told us. For some people these hobbies, activities or jobs are a part of their lives today which makes these kinds of pictures even more valuable. Tip: War pictures [pictures that show people in combat/battle] tend to be a big hit with the gentlemen.

3. Horse and Bird Images- Anytime I have bought something framed that was horse or bird related [owls, sparrow, peacock/peahen] it has always sold ten times faster than anything with a Cat or other animal on it. I think there is something about these two creatures that is graceful and calms the mind. Horses and birds in my mind also symbolize freedom – who doesn’t want to add a little grace and spirit to their home?

P.S While on the topic of freedom I should mention sailboat pictures [and related objects] are also a big hit – both at the cottage and in the home. If you are flipping, look for a sailboat picture that is less modern and boasts more natural elements ex. wooden frame, realistic colours. More times than not the wilderness lover will be the one taking this kind of art off your hands.

4. Music Notes and Dancing – There is always someone who enjoys people dancing or an interesting bar scene with music notes and instruments galore. I would say this is a safe bet when buying and selling art since many people are passionate about the sound of music and/or playing music. Look for something with a little bit of a Jazz or Blues influence -it seems to be growing in popularity as the days go by.

Note: You may make more money off something with a saxophone or piano on it – I have been asked time and time again- Do you have anything with a saxophone or piano?  I know somebody who plays…

Many different people could tell you what they think is popular art (what styles may be trending) in the market today. The key thing to consider is not necessarily what is a popular type of art (ex. Abstract) but to think -what object do people want to see on a canvas? what object do I want to see in my space?

My best tip: I always buy artwork (paintings, drawings etc.) that evoke an emotional response first and foremost.

I will go back to the drawing board and for next few years will work on the fine art of selection.


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