Finding Affordable Local Art for Your Home
As a child, visiting my Grandma B’s house meant seeing naked ladies. In paintings on the walls.
She had a detailed yet dreamy gallery wall in the front entry that lead the eye up the stairs to the main floor where aromas of biscotti wafted from the kitchen or the inviting sound of a crackling fireplace could be heard from the living room. It was a magical house where I got to read classic adult books by a staircase nook, watch musicals, attempt to play ukelele or piano, and read comics by the fire with my Grandpa in his wingback chair.
When I look back on it, anyone who walked into my grandparent’s home likely already knew they were visiting bold and cultured people. Their love of art, music, theatre, travel, and learning made an impression on me. Their personalities drifted throughout the entire house. It had a certain amount of privacy, coziness, and exoticism, which felt rare and special in my hometown.
Now that I’m 28, I feel the importance of having art in my own home. Pieces that mean something to me, make me feel differently, convey ideas I cherish, or share a story of my life, which all add infinite value to the vibe of my home. I learned quite a bit about culture from my Grandma B just by being in her house, surrounded by the art she and my Grandpa loved. Lately, I’ve started curating my own collection but it’s easier said than done sometimes.
I’ve found that art requires a certain amount of investment. An amount I’ve struggled to find in my student indebted budget. But with some research, persistence and saving, it’s possible to find art that you love, made by local artists (even better!).
The first original paintings I bought were at Art Walk Edmonton from artist Amy Dixon. I just couldn’t leave her stand without the set of two dark blue and gold abstract canvases, which are now displayed in my living room (and seen in her Instagram photo above).
You can start your search by cruising these cultural events happening in your community:
- Art Walk
- Arts and craft festivals
- Small, local art galleries
- Local university/college fine arts exhibitions
- Creeping Instagram to find local starting artists. Most have websites to buy prints or commissions.
Some of my favourites in Edmonton are:
Adam Allegro (honorary Edmontonian in my books)
- Local comic book store to inquire about local illustrators
- Paint Night. Lots of not-for-profits host these events for fundraisers. Practical, charitable, and fun all at the same time.
- Thrift stores like Value Village or Salvation Army. You might find a treasure or two.
- Make your own art with watercolours (or pastels, acrylics, oils, or crayons). There are affordable canvases at Michaels too.
My Grandma L has painted her own landscapes with oil paints that have been framed and hung in her own house and my mom’s. She started painting in her late seventies and I remember seeing her easel, a canvas in progress, paints and brushes at the dining room table instead of her usual coffee cup and Canadian Living magazine. My maternal grandma is a very ‘do-it-yourself’ lady, which I admire.
Often, I like to scope out artists at local craft fairs and markets but sometimes the atmosphere is too chaotic for me to purchase. But, I always make sure that I grab their card, visit their website or social media so I can follow their work. I watch for a while, save my pennies and then when I see a piece I can’t bear to be without, I snap it up. This has happened at a market a couple times but it’s always during a quiet moment where I have a chance to talk to the artist.
Don’t stress too much about buying an original over a print. I think that a print can be just as effective in a home and it’s a friendlier price for a beginners creating their own art collection. Over time, you’ll discover your art leanings or preferences and feel confident once you decide to make the investment in an original.
For good and affordable frames, I suggest going to Michaels over Ikea. Michaels was recommended to me by an artist for price quality and also by a friend, who swears by their email coupon list.
Once you have your art and it’s framed, the next challenge is to hang it. The great Cup of Jo blog has an excellent post about how to hang your art like a pro.
And finally, I implore you to go forth and buy art, feel cultured, and spread the creativity to your loved ones.