So more than a few years ago, my husband and I moved from a 2,000 square foot home in the country to an urban upstairs duplex apartment above my in-laws. At first it was a big change. We had a baby on the way and our new “digs” hadn’t been touched since 1970. We had to tear out some walls, put in new floors, basically - update EVERYTHING. So I’ve decided that sharing my past success and a few failures of small scale living can be an adventure all on its own.
But I want this to be more than just how to organize stuff into really small spaces….I’ve come to the realization that small home living doesn’t have to be sparse or minimalist. If something HAS to have a job in my house, then I think it can also be charming. I don’t have room to decorate, so useful things that are in use around the house have to be smart and attractive; hence, “The Charm Offensive”
Downsizing?? So how is it done?
Well, you have to decide what’s really important and what’s just fluff.
My previous kitchen was 14’ wide x 20 feet long. I had endless countertops and was overflowing with cabinet space (because the large laundry room was outfitted with an entire kitchen’s worth of cabinets too) I owned a large serving dish for EVERY holiday. No big deal when you have tons of space.
But now I have a very small kitchen that has a whopping 6’ of working countertop and all the extra dishes and novelty decor has had to go. While I miss some of those things, I do notice that I spend a whole lot less time cleaning and arranging. The payoff is huge.
Smart furniture purchases has helped us conserve space and utilize it to the max. There are tons of easy to do projects coming that are geared toward doing two important things: doing their job well and doing it with charm and class. Everything has to be both useful AND charming.
So Im looking forward to creating the Urban English Cottage in the city. Join me as I go about all the new projects that are going to make this little house a big home.
–Laura Swink Fine Art 2019
Coming Soon on The Charm Offensive:
How to make a spice collection from upcycled grocery store jars.
That's right - I'm taking a rag tag group of odd ball jars and making them into a glass menagerie that works together to keep all the herbs and spices I use in my kitchen. Tired of the boring plastic jars falling out of your cabinet? So was I. I'm going to show you how to do it. Join me on the Charm Offensive.
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One of my favorite artists, Brian Rutenberg has a video blog on being an artist. His lofty words and outlook on the profession are really a guilty pleasure of mine, I try not to miss a new video when it comes out.
And much to my astonishment, he spoke one day on how much bad artwork he actually makes - cut to video of him CUTTING UP A CANVAS! This for me was shocking, seriously, he paints on custom built Belgian linen canvases that are twice primed…and then the sheer amount of thick paint he uses leaves me to wonder exactly how much cold hard cash is used to make these treasures of his ONLY to see him routinely cutting one up and retiring it to the trash.
I. Was. Gobsmacked.
It was at this point, I realized, I’m not alone.
I sweat over my work and some days I think I’ve got it only to be gravely disappointed in it only a few hours later. It’s tough, you want it to be perfect every time and only some pieces you can classify as “magical” - - - that piece that everyone wishes they owned, everyone shares, everyone re-pins, etc.
It just doesn’t happen that way. Some days you look at yourself in the mirror and wonder why you keep going back for more punishment. No matter how much energy you put into it, it just keeps coming up wrong.
It has taken me a long time to realize that not only is destruction a part of the process of painting - making really bad work is also a part of it. It doesn’t always teach you something, some days it feels so random, some days it feels like you have no skill. One can really beat oneself up over it.
The most important part of this, tho - - the making of bad art, is a natural of the process, and it seems, may even be important to your development. You destroy it so as not to remember but its imprint is still there in your later work. It’s all one, and it’s all to be embraced.
So you want to start an art collection...GREAT!!!
It's fine, we've all been here - a beginner. You are in a world that is unfamiliar with a huge desire to learn. You're eager and anxious to be on your new journey but you feel totally clueless as to what to do next and this is no different when you want to begin a decent art collection. So where do you being?
Happily, I can tell you that as an aspiring collector you Do NOT have to have a vast knowledge of art in order to make this happen for you. All you need is confidence in what you truly love.
Thankfully, we have the internet in this day and age and it won't take tons of time going to art shows in hope that you will find the knowledge you need to get started. Sites like Pinterest and large online galleries like Saatchi and Fine Art America can help you trudge thru the sheer amount of art available online...and that's OK too, because you will quickly learn what you prefer when it comes to choosing art for your home.
That knowledge do you need? Basically - knowing what you love and what fits into your lifestyle...it's as simple as that. So go ahead and spend some time looking about in these galleries and getting a feel for what you really love. This will make it easier for you to hone what your preferences are thus making it easier for you to make your very first purchase whether at a show or online. You will also feel better about what constitutes good art and that is not as hard as you think it is.
For you, the small collector, it absolutely comes down to what you like because the vast majority of today's collectors that are into art as an investment have the help of those who have a Master's in Art History and often a number of people looking around for just the right investment opportunity - this is not you, so don't try to be that person. You are going to do far better knowing that you are doing this for the love of art rather than trying to score a painting that is going to be some huge payoff 20 years from now. It's just not possible without tons and tons of proper research. Who has time for that?
So begin small and take a few baby steps. Buying a small work under 16" x 20" is a great place to begin. You won't spend a ton of money and a collection of small works thoughtfully done can have a huge impact in your home. It's the really smart way to start and very quickly you will establish yourself as a connoisseur and patron of fine art. Brilliant.
Don't be afraid to mix styles of art, just make sure to pair this styles together on separate walls - you know, just like the big art gallery does.
If art collecting is a passion for you then it's time to dive in and get started. There is so much real opportunity out there and good artists can be very easy to find and buy from - directly. This is the age of technology, after all.
So if you have any further questions - please feel free to comment below. The best way to begin is to take that first step...you are more confident than you know.