Decorating with MY Art

Because everyone — even me — has some artistic ability.

One of the things that’s challenging me lately is the collection of blank walls at our Phoenix apartment (code-named “Rear Window”). It’s a challenge because I’m determined to decorate them with artwork — which I’ve never been very good at doing.

Why We Don’t Hang Art

I should explain. Our first house, in New Jersey, was made of reinforced poured concrete. Built in 1926, it was one of several in town that was formed with reinforcement mesh, concrete forms, and poured concrete. The walls, floors, and ceilings were all poured concrete. To say our house was solid is an understatement. It will survive earthquakes, floods, and nuclear explosions.

One of the problems of having a house like that is hanging pictures. A masonry nail (at the very least) was required to hang anything on the wall — whether it was a spice rack, framed poster, or paper calendar. As a result, we always thought twice or three times or more before hanging anything. We didn’t want to put unnecessary holes in the walls — holes we might later regret putting there.

So we hung very few items on the walls.

We lived there eleven years. The hesitancy of hanging anything on the walls became part of our mentality. To this day, after twelve years in our current home, we’re still hesitant to hang anything on the walls.

But there’s no excuse not to hang art on these plain, pale colored walls in Phoenix. So we’re going to do it.

My Art

I’ve been an amateur photographer since my college days, although I stopped taking photos for a bunch of years and only got involved again about three years ago. Like so many people, I’ve discovered that digital photography makes photography more affordable, more convenient, and more fun. I make a conscious effort these days to go to interesting places and take interesting photos. And since it costs the same to shoot one photo as it does to shoot 20, I experiment a lot. And although I’ll never quit my “day job” (whatever that is) to become a professional photographer, I’ve collected enough good shots to feel proud of my efforts and want to show them off.

So I’ve decided to draw upon my portfolio of photos to decorate the walls at Rear Window. Why buy someone else’s photos when I can show off some of my own?

(My apologies to the professional photographers out there trying to sell your work. There is a market for it. That market just isn’t with me.)

ribba.jpgI found some very basic frames that included bevel cut mats at Ikea. (Although Aaron Brothers is having their big 1¢ sale right now, getting a large mat cut would cost me about $95 and I’m not interested in spending more on a mat than the frame and enlarged photo combined.) The frame comes several colors, although I’ve chosen black. It’s also available in a wide variety of sizes, some of which have mat cutouts for multiple photos. So I have a lot of flexibility here to hang all kinds of photos in a number of sizes.

To get things started, I ordered enlargements of two of my favorite photos made last year:

  • North to the FutureNorth to the Future was taken in Alaska in March 2008 at Girdwood Airport, a small dirt strip (snowcovered that day) about 40 miles south of Anchorage. I’d been flying the day before as a passenger on three incredible helicopter flights but did not have my camera aboard. (Don’t ask.) The next day, I had my camera handy and snapped this photo on my way into Alpine Air’s office at the airport. The clouds were caught up in the snow-covered mountains all around the airport, the sky was an amazing blue beyond it, and the bright red and yellow of the airplane really called out to me. The title of this photo comes from Alaska’s state motto. The photo was entered into a photo contest but did not win.
  • Lake Powell from Romana MesaLake Powell from Romana Mesa was shot in August 2008. I’d made the 2-hour drive from Page, AZ around the northwest end of the lake to the top of Romana Mesa in Mike’s pickup truck. Suffering with a bad back and concerned that I wouldn’t get back to Page before it got dark, I didn’t stay long or spend much time exploring. But the late afternoon light was great and there were just enough clouds in the sky to make it interesting. I took about 80 shots on that little excursion and this is one of my favorites.

I ordered 20 x 30 enlargements of each of these. They should be arriving by mail any day now. Later today, I’ll head down to Ikea to pick up the frames. This weekend, I’ll put them all together.

I’ll hang them at Rear Window the next time I’m in Phoenix. The airplane photo will be perfect centered over our new red sofa. The Lake Powell photo will go over the fireplace — until I can find the giant clock with Arabic numerals (not Roman numerals!) that I really want there. Then I’ll likely shift it to one of the walls in the dining room.

If I like the way they look, I’ll choose more photos and have them printed in other sizes. I’ll buy other frames. Little by little, I’ll cover the walls with souvenirs of our travels.

I’m really looking forward to this. It’ll be great to have these pictures reside somewhere other than on my hard drive.

Got photos you’re proud of? Don’t keep them cooped up on your computer’s hard disk. Make a place for them in your home. I guarantee you’ll be glad you did.

5 thoughts on “Decorating with MY Art

  1. Maria,

    I totally agree. If you have photos that remind you of a trip or a person or something you love, you should absolutely get them off of the computer and onto your wall. The images above are lovely. Enjoy them!

    Kari : )

  2. I have a couple of my own photos hung on the walls. At least one New Zealand company allows you to print onto canvas. It’s a bit pricey, but I have 3 photos printed this way so far – all at that large size of around 18 inches by 24, or even 24 by 36.

    Being on canvas it has a much softer look than if printed on paper, and the company also wrap the image around the edges. Because it has its own internal frame you don’t need to then add a frame.

    Visitors to our house have commented on the images (favourably), and in one case thought the photo was a painting. Beyond some basic colour correction in Photoshop I hadn’t applied any ‘special effects’.

    Miraz´s last blog post: Unnecessary light pollutes our lives

    • I like photos printed on canvas. You sent me one a while back and it looks great in my guest room — it has the same colors I used when decorating that room, so it was a natural fit.

      I’ve considered doing the canvas print, but only after using some of Photoshop’s filters on an image to make it look like a painting. Haven’t gone through with it yet, though.

  3. Next time you are in Prescott you might want to check out R.L. Charpentier Printing (inside Ian Russel’s Gallery at the Firehouse Plaza).

    He can do standard photo prints and canvas prints, anything up to 43″ wide (I think). I have a 32×24 print of this shot and was totally impressed. I let them handle the matting and framing, which was a bit on the spendy side, but well worth it.

    I liked that one so much that I got a canvas print of one of my wife’s photos, which also turned out great.

    The nice thing is that Rich is more than happy to sit down with clients, show them what the colors look like on a calibrated monitor so that they know exactly what they are getting.

    Something to keep in mind. :)

    Tombo´s last blog post: The LHC to be turned on€¦ again

    • That’s an EXCELLENT shot that you linked to. It must look incredible printed in that size, hung on a wall. I’ll definitely look for him next time I’m in Prescott. My large prints came out good, but I don’t like the framing. Am interested in canvas prints. Thanks for this tip.

What do you think?