photography to get your kid out of the house

I was having a hard time with my oldest son wanting nothing to do with anything other than video games. He is only 15 years old and I knew that if I didn't do something to encourage him to get out of the house a bit that he would spend all of his time playing those games. For his birthday, I bought him a really nice digital camera. I signed the two of us up for classes to learn how to use DSLR cameras to capture images that were works of art. This blog contains many of the tips that we learned together.

3 Things A Beginning Collector Should Know About Paintings And Drawings


If you are interested in collecting paintings or drawings for your home or as investments, you will need to have an understanding of what makes a piece successful or not from a critic's point of view. There are three aspects of two-dimensional (2-D) art that you should familiarize yourself with from the start. 

1.  Abstract Qualities and Composition

Whether a painting is representational (the subject matter is recognizable as items or people) or abstract , it should always work as a abstract design that is appealing and coherent even if you were looking at it through a fogged up glass .

This is one aspect that separates an amateur painting from a professional piece. To gauge this, try squinting your eyes when looking at the work so that the details fade. Imagine what the piece would look like if you could see it reflected in a mirror (this would reverse the image from left-to-right to right-to-left), or turned upside down, because any lapses of good design and jarring elements would stand out to you from these viewpoints.

Composition literally means "with position" and it is an art term that describes the positioning of elements in a piece with regards to the overall design of it. Even if a painting is hyper-realistic, it should be evident to a savvy collector's eye that the artist made good choices in the elements included and in the viewpoint of the scene, and that the artist tied the elements together in a way that is cohesive (in regards to unity and one-ness or whole-ness) yet varied and interesting. One of the reasons Rembrandt's drawings and paintings are still famous today was that he was a master of cohesive composition.

2.  Tonal Values

To learn about how tonal values are important to a work, studying Rembrandt's works would be helpful, since he was also a master of using lights and darks as compositional tools.

An artist today may choose a large, medium, or small spectrum of light to work with but it should be evident that they made their choices with care and sensitivity, plus those choices should add interest to the piece. Nothing should be too jarring unless it is evident that the artist had that as an intent. A big tonal range might add drama to a piece whereas a small range might be more serene.

3.  Color Choices

Color theory is another aspect of 2-D art that deserves scrutiny. Color has temperature which means it appears warm or it appears cool. The pure primary colors (red, yellow, and blue) are neutral but can be warm or cool, depending on what is added to them. Usually an artist will choose a temperature range to work with in a piece and the majority of the elements of painting will be either warm or cool. However, a master colorist often adds a few touches of the opposite temperature to add contrast and make the coolness or warmness stand out more.

A few other color terms you should know are chroma, tint, and shade. Chroma refers to the amount of pure color or degree of grayness it has. A highly saturated color with a high degree of chroma will be closer to a pure color while a color with low saturation and low chroma will possess a lot of gray in it.  A tint has white added to the color, while a shade has black added to it, but to neutralize a color, an artist may add gray to it or mix it with an opposing color to dull it down (ie., mix some violet into yellow or add a touch of red into green).

To add to your study of color, Pierre Bonnard's and Van Gogh's works are great places to start.

Additional Study

So to recap, you will want to learn more about composition and cohesiveness, tonal values, and use of color to be a savvy 2-D art collector. Other subjects that may interest you are craftsmanship and quality (for instance, the use of archival/long-lasting materials), plus the basics of formatting and framing.   

For further assistance, contact or visit a local art gallery, such as Calgary Editions Gallery.


7 December 2015