You want to start influencing our culture by supporting artists but you aren’t ready to commission a work yet. Maybe you are more interested in purchasing a painting already produced. That is also very helpful.
A good first step is visiting galleries. This can be intimidating at first. Depending on where you go there may be a certain “snooty” atmosphere. Other places are very welcoming.
RULE NUMBER ONE: Do NOT be intimidated by the snooty factor. You have every right to be in the store. That’s what it is. A store. But because they sell art they call it a gallery. Conduct yourself (and your children) as you would in a museum and you will be fine.
RULE NUMBER TWO: Do NOT be concerned that gallery owner is following you around at a polite distance. You will find this at museums also. This is in order for the gallery owner to protect his art and to be ready at hand should you want to ask a question.
RULE NUMBER THREE: Do NOT be intimidated by sticker shock. It is going to cost more than you hoped. Some things are just going to be ridiculously out of your price range. STILL LOOK! It is still there to be enjoyed and for you to see what is being produced and to refine what you like. (And more expensive does not necessarily mean better.)
Lots of things can happen here. Twice now I’ve met artists doing this. Once was with a painting that was so far out of my reach as to be ridiculous. Getting to know the artist and telling him what I liked about the painting (but with the forewarning that I was NOT going to buy it) he was able to produce something for me closer to my comfort level (price wise) and we have had a good relationship ever since. Once I just plain met an artist and his story about his background and the about the painting just led me to buy it.
RULE NUMBER FOUR: It’s Okay to be “Just looking.”
RULE NUMBER FIVE: Some galleries carry new artists that are just getting started. The have not fully matured yet but their work is very promising and much more affordable (or you just plain like it.) That is why visiting galleries is valuable. You get an idea of artists, prices, and what an individual gallery carries. (Some are just always ridiculous.)
RULE NUMBER SIX: Don’t invest in paintings like stocks and bonds. You most likely will lose out. Buy it because it is art and you like it. And like wine, don’t say you like it just because somebody said you should. (Be open to appreciating the work, but that is different than liking it.) My mother had a secret love for wine others considered low brow. But you know what, when she drank it she was happy. Get the painting you want to live with.
RULE NUMBER SEVEN: Don’t buy it because it’s “pretty.” Ask yourself what it means to you. How does it speak to you on a deeper level? How does it make you feel? Does it spark memories? Does it resonate with something you believe in? Is it “different?” What does the artist, in your estimation, seem to be doing? What was the artist’s technique? Does that strike you as fascinating? Do you hope that more of the type and subject of painting that you purchased will be produced? Especially in this last point - if you don’t like it, don’t support it.
Determine as much about the painting as you can in your own mind before asking about it. The gallery owner or the artists may have insights incredibly different than your own. Once they tell you theirs, yours may be gone lost forever.
RULE NUMBER EIGHT: Walk away. Buy it tomorrow. See if it still calls to you after you leave. This has worked tremendously with me. Only one time did I ever look back and regret not buying a painting. (20 years ago.) It was in Hot Springs Arkansas. Gosh! I liked that painting and would like to have it to this day to share with others. But . . . whatever.
RULE NUMBER NINE: Have things in mind such as how large of a painting you can accommodate. I made a fatal error once. I have a painting too big to hang. Something will done. I have ideas. But for now . . . hmmmmmm.
RULE NUMBER TEN: Don’t be talked into something you don’t like. The person doing the talking doesn’t have to live with it. But DO spend some time with things and try to understand things that you don't like. It can be fun and enlightening like eating your broccoli that later you discover you like.
RULE NUMBER ELEVEN: Have fun. Enjoy this. If you are getting too tense walk away, shake it off, get a cup of coffee, and come back when you are in a better state of mind.