Monday, April 30, 2012


Peak of Autumn © 2011 Stewart Anstead
7'x5' acrylic on canvas mounted board
That large wall of yours is crying out for a painting to be the crowning jewel of your office, home, or vacation property.

You walk into your home's entry and there, before you, is that magnificent vaulted great room and that very large wall with nothing there ... yet.

It needs something. It needs style. It needs to be a statement.

You have put all your hard-earned money, effort, and your best decorative thoughts into what you want but you are faced with the classic questions:

* Subject matter?

* Painting? Tapestry? Something else?

* Colors? You know you like something with reds, something with blues, something understated, or something bold. Something outrageous?

* Original or print?

(and the ultimate question)

* Where to get what I want?

Great questions!

I have suggestions that will help you, so don't stress it!


Realize that many people have had to deal with this challenge before you and have blazed a trail that you are able to follow, and at least get exposed to solutions that you may have never considered before.

Let's address these questions one by one:

* Subject matter?

The answer to this question is one word: "Story"

Everyone has a story that is worth telling. Everyone has had an experience, a memory, a connection that makes up that story. Those stories are often best told through art, so you should have a great starting point.

The guiding principle here (and this principle is the first consideration for each of the questions addressed in this article) is to define YOUR story when it comes to the thing you wish to share with others when your art is displayed. 

It could be like the painting shown above that features the local flavor ... aspen trees in the Park City area. It could be of people that matter to you, places you've seen, or images that are abstract. It literally could be of anything you want.

For this kind of space, there is an OPPORTUNITY for large-scale expression! Don't shrink from it. Embrace it.

* Painting? Tapestry? Something else?

I don't create tapestries so I have a bias. I sell art that I make myself. But there are going to be times when you will want a tapestry up there. Those include that special time when you traveled to India and came across that wonderful rug that was a piece of art. You might want to consider making that a feature of your great room because it allows you to tell that story every time you have visitors over.

What I like about paintings as a solution here is that you can have multiple solutions in how your story gets told. Maybe you chose not to import that large landscape tapestry, but you do have photos of the area you found to be so compelling. That's great! It's your story, and it can be rendered right here!

First decide your story. The rest should come easier.

* Colors? 

I see colors as a way creating that perfect atmosphere in which to tell that story. Your surroundings in that space is filled with other expressions of who you are - the couch - the coffee table - the lighting fixtures - the chairs ... all of these are players in the overall expression of your story. 

Often, I think of men's fashion as an analogy that provides another good example of where I'm coming from when it comes to interior design. Specifically, look at a man's suit. It is pretty basic. Mostly solid styling top to bottom ... solid colors, sharp lines, slight variation options for a shirt, but mostly understated ... and mostly solid. 

What's left to bring the suit to life? The tie. The tie is quite small in viewable square inches of the entire getup. It is also the one accessory where society has allowed a personal flair to be displayed. Color is the thing when it comes to men's ties.

Your dominant wall art is much like that tie. It makes the loudest statement about the man and your art makes the loudest statement about the owner of the living space.

Cool colors? Warm colors? A bold statement? Country or contemporary.

All of those things have to do with your story. What is already being expressed in the space through your furnishings is a good approach to how you intend to set it all off ... to push the entire experience of your living space over the goal line. 

* Original or print?

Yes, start with your story first.
Next, I have a rule of thumb about originals or prints:
Unless your story is clearly best expressed through the use of imagery that already exists as a 2D object, such as an aged gas station sign, a movie poster, or a print of a priceless work of art from one of the great masters, you should go with original work of art.

Original pieces offer you a great amount of flexibility, but they also say a lot about you. It says you value original art because it is handcrafted, that you made an investment of sorts in this expression of yourself, and that you see that your story deserves a place of honor in your living environment.

There are times when you can acquire a large format limited-edition print to fit your needs. Those can work if they are specific parts of your story. But, dominant walls deserve dominant expressions of yourself, uniquely and originally. That's what hand-painted pieces of art do. 

* Where to get what I want?

On occasion, you might go into a gallery that carries large pieces. I have sold several this way and if you feel lucky, you just might come across a great solution. This type of gallery is not typical. Most artists haven't done their work on a large scale. You are talking about custom work to meet your needs. You are probably better off finding artists who are most comfortable creating work at any size that is needed. 

I am one of those. I have a way of going about this that helps accomplish the realization of your vision. Here's what I do:

1. I understand your story. I know how to listen. You might know your story right off, and I go from there. If you haven't really thought of how to articulate that story, I can draw it out of you.

2. Sizing is important, and I help you find the size that fits comfortably in your space. This is done through placing cardboard sections of different sizes on your wall. The most comfortable sizing solutions are usually very clear after this exercise.

3. Rendering a sample of what your piece will look like is my next step. I can use computer programs that help accelerate the layout roughs stage. I would show you one or more samples of rough designs that give a good idea of what your final piece would look like. What you see is not exactly a match to the final output, but the results will always be close enough that you know ahead of time what to expect.

4. Simulation - I can take photos of your actual living space and superimpose those rough renderings of art onto an image of the actual wall where the final will be installed. The placement can be experimented with and the sizing can be altered here, and the results are pleasing. It's as if your story as told through your painting is already activated for sharing. 

Large format art for large walls don't need to be a daunting task. The process of discovery through final installation should be interesting and even exhilarating!

Call me for pricing and time-frames. Let's put your large wall space to its intended purpose ... telling your story.

Stewart Anstead

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