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Clashing is the new Matching – Or is it?

A quick blog post where, in fact, I am not really discussing colours at all!

A while ago, a lady came in to our Brighton seafront gallery and fell silent and still in front of one of my abstract pieces. It may have been my artist insecurities rearing their ugly (and definitely not matching) heads, but I was not convinced that her silence was a sign of awe or even wonder. It was a deep blue and green semi abstract seascape, with a combination of swirls and geometric shapes. It was the first one of my now sold out “Urban Waves” series, but at the time I was not sure it should have even been on the wall…

As she stood, she seemed in turn puzzled, concerned, disapproving and overall rather discombobulated. On automatic gallery-owner pilot, I got closer and asked if I could help at all. She turned to me and said rather abruptly “What on earth is that supposed to be?”. Before I had time to answer she added “This won’t go in my house. And I much prefer watercolours.”

Just for those of you who can’t wait for the punch line, I did end up delivering the painting to the lady’s Hove residence that same night.

But meanwhile, there I was, wondering whether I should pursue what clearly promised to be a slightly awkward and probably pointless conversation. If I were more of a sales person, and as a gallery owner, I would have shown her some of our beautiful seascape watercolours by Richard Marsh, but my pride as an artist got the better of me and I felt I had to justify myself – a feeling most artists will have experienced when discussing their own art.

Much to my surprise, the conversation turned out to be not in the least bit awkward. In brief, the lady explained to me how the piece stirred up emotions and a feeling of joy and excitement, but she could not buy it because her interior was all subtle tones and she’d recently had all her artwork framed in matching gold frames.

One of the main concerns people express when buying art is whether it will “match”… their wall, their sofa, other pieces already on the wall or even (heard only once, to be fair) their hair colour…

There is no point in me trying to convince people that clashing or matching colours is a relative concept. I am not an interior designer and I would not want people to get home with a red abstract for their yellow wall and feel they have made a big mistake.

But since that encounter, I usually ask them how the piece they are about to buy makes them feel and whether that is the emotion they want to convey in the room in question. Often they will find that what drew them reflects a part of themselves, which is what they want to inject into their decor. And often they will also find that this is enough of a common thread drawing all their art, furniture and other possessions together.

It is then easy to create an aesthetic, more visual link with the use of similar frames or by introducing other objects or even other paintings and prints, which will pick up tones and colours from the seemingly clashing art pieces.

It is also very likely that subconsciously, you will have in fact chosen pieces that all have something in common, even if on the surface they appear very different, to the point of contradiction.

At the end of the day, art buying is about capturing an emotion, a sense of yourself that you may not have consciously perceived, which transpires when you are drawn to a particular piece. Even when choosing art in a more rational, calculated way to match the wallpaper or the sofa, emotion and instinct will play a big a part, whether or not you are aware of it.

This is one of the many aspects we will talk about in one of our free, no obligation art consultations, at your home or at our Brighton & Hove gallery.

This is also what we will be showing in our new mini-exhibition from 13 April, “Clashing is the new Matching”, showcasing some our favourite pieces in all their eclectic, clashing beauty!

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