Monday, February 10, 2014


Willow Shadows and Aspen, oil on panel 16 x 12, SOLD as a memento
My neighbors came back from the south of France with a unique souvenir: a painting of the castle fort in the town where they were staying.  Walking around their picturesque village, they noticed a painter working every day in the plaza.  They looked at his work, and watched as he meticulously painted the scene in front of him.  Then they bought the painting.  It's the only souvenir they brought back, other than their own photos, and it's one that will last a lifetime, as a valued piece of art, and as a memory.

How to collect an art souvenir or memento:
1.  Look for signs that it's an original work of art, not a reproduction.  Watching an artist at work is great evidence.  Assertions of a street vendor, not so much.  Look at the art closely.  If it's oil or acrylic, are there visible brush marks?  Do the brush marks begin and end with the color mark, or do they carry through color marks as if they were put on later? Is it on canvas or panel that shows signs of a bit of extra paint on the back or edges?  Does it smell like oil?  Does a pastel or charcoal painting have a little bit of dust on surrounding materials?  Can you see the thickness of the pastel marks when you look closely? These may be signs of an original.  

Watercolor paint films have almost no thickness, so they are a little more tricky.  Look at the edges of the painting.  If they're razor straight, it may be a reproduction.  Originals will usually be on watercolor paper, usually with a slight texture.  Giclee reproductions can now be printed on watercolor paper, so this isn't a sure sign.  But any paper texture patterns in the paint should match the bumps on the paper, not be superimposed on them. The finish of a watercolor is generally matte, but there may be a slight sheen over selected colors.  You may be able to detect pigment particles in blue areas. The colors should have a clean, vivid appearance.

2.  Choose art that you love.  Don't worry about whether it fits your color scheme, or whether you have a place for it.  You can always find a place for it, even if it means rotating some artwork.

3.  Landscapes of the area make great mementos, but almost any kind of art will do.  Florals, abstracts, pottery, textiles, all carry the flavor of the area and the artists who live and work there.

4.  If you're buying from the artist, ask for the story of how it was painted.  Write it down, and store it on the back of the art to add to the memory of the trip.

Now, where will you travel next?

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