It Doesn't Have to Match the Sofa
View on how to Collect art by artist Pat Meyer
Wow! As a professional artist, I’m always
trying to hone and improve my skills. I find
that marketing my art takes time and talent
as well. So the first question one must ask
is… Why do people collect art?
Probably the most common thing I hear
from the general public, or novice art
collector, is that “The painting Does Not
match the sofa.” They are viewing the art
as a decorator, not a collector. Art worth
collecting must be viewed and appreciated
for the way it grabs you. For its emotional
Well, in my heart, that’s the most important
aspect that defines it as collectable. As for
me, I say “Good! I am glad it doesn’t
match the sofa! The sofa will grow old and
wear out and the next sofa will be
something totally different.” But the art lives on.
The art you collect must mean something to you. It should move you. Touch your soul. Invoke
a memory or feeling when you look at it. Otherwise, you are a decorator, not a collector.
When I am teaching, I try to stress artistic emotion. I ask my students, “What emotion do you
wish to portray in your work today? What little piece of your soul are you putting on the canvas?
Does it make you feel happy, confused, joyful? Does it give you a sense of peace or invoke
tension? What’s your emotional goal for that piece of work?”
Now, as a collector, the same thing could be said. Ask yourself, “What type of emotion do I want
to fill this space with?”
Many artist can present a lot of fancy brush work and can throw exciting paint on the canvas.
But, in the end, it is the artist with the true skill of conveying an emotion that wins out.
It is a goal of every good artist to catch the collector’s eye. They set themselves apart through
their subject matter and their style. By modifying composition, an artist can accent and present
an interesting point of view in a portrait, or produce a tranquil feeling from a beautiful still-life
comprised of stunning flowers. A wonderful landscape setting can be refined and personalized
through the artist’s interpretation of composition, lighting, shadows, and brushwork. Carefully
crafted to stir a particular emotion. These are the tools of the artist.
A collector should always study how a piece of work was painted. What is the composition
doing, the expressive brush work, the balance of edges. When used correctly, all of these
factors come together to form an interesting painting that engenders an emotional response.
But most of all, in the end, a collector must consider their emotional response to the art. How
does it touch them as an individual, as a collector?
Over time, I have collected many works from famous artists and emerging artists as well. One
of my favorite pieces is a monochromatic painting of a small pitcher with silk wrapped around it.
It is so unusual and so fluid that I had to have it. It pleases me. Another strong piece is a
beautiful portrait of a young girl in a head scarf painted by a famous artist. Her eyes drew me in
and the way her head was titled, every so slightly, conveyed an angelic like existence into the
painting. Guess what. These paintings didn’t match the sofa! All the paintings are so totally
different in style, composition, and color that they all work together to give this room its
personality. A atmosphere that could not be achieved if all the works were selected simply as
an extension of what was already in the room.
Now don’t get me wrong. I do desire a planned and coordinated cohesive style when
decorating a room. However, one’s art selections should transcend functional into emotional as
it resonates throughout the room. Experiment. I think you’ll find that good art can play off of its
surroundings and multiple pieces, when pulled together, will work. Together, they can convert a
room from a sterile and bland “showroom” feeling into YOUR space. A room that you will enjoy.
Remember, good art does not have to just blend. After all isn’t art suppose to start a
Recently, while judging a large art show, a gentleman came to me an asked my opinion about a
particular piece of art that he found somewhat disturbing. He felt compelled to come over to
me, the judge, and ask me my thoughts on a particular painting. He questioned whether it
should have even been allowed into the show.
In response, I asked him why he kept going back to look at it. Why didn’t he just ignore it and
walk on? After discussing both the technical and emotional aspects of the painting for about 5
minutes, he realized that while this art did not suit his taste, it made him feel something. It
touched him. Yes, it made him a little uncomfortable. However, after we spent several minutes
talking about the art and the emotion it invoked within him, he came to realize that he liked it
after all. So much so, that even after the show, he felt compelled to write me and let me know
that he kept thinking about this piece of art. Was it a great piece of art that captivated him?
No, not really. But there was a strong emotional connection with that piece that deeply touched
him. It invoked the exact emotion that the artist wanted to convey.
So when you consider which piece of art to buy next, first ask yourself… Does it move me?
Does it produce a feeling that I want to share with others? Is it speaking my language? Is it by
and artist that I admire? Will the artist’s work continue to appreciate in the marketplace?
One good resource that answers some of these questions is a blog post on Invaluable, titled "How to Start a Fine Art Collection"But, most of all, please don’t buy it because it matches the sofa.