Collecting Art

Pussy Willow, by Duane Keiser

Pussy Willow, by Duane Keiser

The Theory.

I do not have a MFA. I did not study Art Criticism, Art History or even Art Theory in college. I probably have a fairly unsophisticated taste in art~I don’t mean ignorant, just not sophisticated. I love art and I buy what I can afford when I have the chance.

Most of what I prefer could be termed as classical realism, which sounds pretty cool but there are times I am not certain exactly what that means. I’ve found some work with this label, that is~to me at least, doesn’t even remotely resemble a realistic work (unless it was painted in a methane vapor environment); although they are painted well. Perhaps its semantics since those works were representational but not even remotely realistic?

When I look at the artwork on display at the Art Renewal Center (ARC) which is a pillar of classical realism, I find I love some artists linked there and intensely dislike others.

I guess one way I would define classical realism or at least realism, is to see if the painter was honest in what they painted? Did they make the painting flattering to see more paintings or were they true and honest representations?

I keep thinking about Mary Cassatt and Degas and how she disliked at least one of the portraits he painted of her. I believe it was because she considered it so unflattering~but was it true to what he saw?

I admire figure paintings by Michelle Tully, Leo Neufeld, Jacob Collins, and Tony Ryder yet dislike many of the paintings by their mentor Ted Seth Jacobs. This is pretty odd since most of these artists studied with Ted at the Art Student League in NYC and I dislike many of Ted’s work. I couldn’t figure out why until I read at his site that “the artist works only from life, objects, or the imagination.” Perhaps it the ones he painted from the imagination are the ones I dislike? I have no idea. So again, perhaps for me the definition of classical realism should include something about painted from life.


Why am I blathering about this? Well besides learning to oil paint, I am also learning on a very small scale how to collect art. I’ve exchanged several emails with Mr. Gregory Peterson about his collection and how he started and what were his ‘lessons learned.” NOTE: I am a huge fan about learning from someone else’s mistakes or the things they did right.

Some of his lessons learned surprised me. I always thought you’d just buy what you love and then one day you’d *poof* have a collection. It works this way for many people-heck that’s what I was doing, but my very tiny collection lacked a core focus to guide future purchases.

Gregory suggested that I write a statement of what I wanted to collect and what the focus of the collection should be.  Gregory said that this would help me make purchasing decisions as well. So I decided the following:

I want to collect smaller scale, honest representational and realistic paintings/drawings which I love and effect me on  emotional level. I will focus on work by living artists and concentrate on works produced from 1995 to the present time.

So what do I have in my tiny collection? Several landscapes studies by Peter Holbrook; several landscapes Michelle Tully, a beautiful painting of an apple, a tiny still life and one portrait by Michelle; an oil study of onions by Tony Ryder; one oil sketch and a pencil sketch by Leo Neufeld, one oil sketch and pencil drawing by Robert Liberace, a wonderful dog painting by Damon Lehrer; several paintings by my friend Chris Perez; a large painting by Annie Dover; and several tiny paintings by Duane Keiser. My newest addition is a delightful painting by Kim Roberti.

If you noticed that most of the paintings are small or are studies, this was a deliberate decision. I do not have the

Onions by Anthony Ryder

Onions by Anthony Ryder

income to support large art purchases and I don’t have that kind of space to hang art now that I live in the Washington DC area.  My choices were buy prints, photography  or small works/studies. This means that I can occasionally afford the work of someone I really love.

I’ve purchased the works by Michelle Tully and Tony Ryder through the Silver Fortress scholarship auctions on eBay. You can buy delightful 4″x4″ paintings which support their scholarship fund for the Silver Fortress Atelier in France. I bartered with a friend for several of his paintings and I’ve been lucky enough to buy several of Duane Keiser’s works through sheer persistence.

Another great way to buy art from an artist I love is to attend a live draw event they are participating in. Typically the sale price goes directly to the artist so you are not paying a gallery commission. I’ve also been fortunate to purchased art work that was created during demos in classes I’ve taken. this is really a bonus since I have a memento of the course AND I can study how the artist created the work by looking at it and comparing it to my notes, it allows leisurely detailed study.

Rules Were Meant to be Broken (Sometimes).

This painting always makes me smile. I can’t begin to think where it fits in with my small collection, other than I love it and it always makes me laugh. I found this during the artDC show at the convention center this spring. artDC is a very serious show international art show, one does NOT belly laugh there.

ArtDC 2007 had some amazing works, a Van Gogh etching, Picasso etchings ad naseum, world class photography, and amazing paintings of every genre and size and well as video works. I collected several art folios/brochures of the works that made me drool, but sadly they were out of my reach and the reach of probably anyone who isn’t’ independently wealthy or has a trust fund.

Hello Botticelli by Leslie Holt

Hello Botticelli by Leslie Holt

Then I turn a corner and I see these paintings. From what I remember, there was a my kitty in a painting of The Shootings of May Third 1808 by Goya, Picasso’s Guernica, a Degas kitty ballerina, and a kitty Frieda Khalo. There were probably a few others, but I don’t remember. I fell for this one (although I loved the Goya and the Khalo too).

The first time I saw it I stood in front of it and ‘belly laughed’ for a solid 10 minutes. I cried I was laughing so hard. It is not a ‘serious’ piece of art but it sure is a fun one. Artist Leslie Holt painted mine sometime between 1 January and April 2007. I’ve tried to google her but haven’t found out much about her. I asked the gallery who sold me this if she was making some type of deep social statement (which I had somehow missed). The lady said, no, she just likes my little kitty. Cool.

Are her paintings sacrilege? Perhaps. But they made me laugh and this painting cheered me up during a very sad time in my life.

I hope I don’t Sound Priggish…

When I hear people talking about art I think about museums and corporations. Or those famous private collections like those of the Mellons, Phipps, and Rockerfellers. But normal folks collect art as well and learning from Gregory Peterson has helped me really refine what it is I want.


8 responses to “Collecting Art

  1. I am not an art critique… I studied art history at school but I have to be honest, I have no reason in saying that I like or dislike a painting, I just like or dislike it…
    I gave a look to the links you put in your post and this one (
    by J.Collin I like.
    I like the style of A.J.Ryder too.

    The Hello Kitty stuff… I simply hate it, as an Italian I found it deeply insulting 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

  2. Sorry about Botticelli, insulting you or folks in Italy wasn’t my intention.

    I just really thought it was funny, especially since she placed the kitty on her own little pink shell.

    I wondered about linking it-but I think buying art means that you are buying it for many reasons. In this case the reason was that I was going through a difficult time and this small painting makes me laugh or smile every time I look at it.

    Not deep reason but a true one.
    take care!

  3. I loved reading your opinion. I also have a new artist to appreciate. I absolutely am fascinated by Jacob Collins. I am most drawn to his boats in the landscape collection (I’ve been wanting to paint boats recently). I wish that I could be a more versatile painter, but I guess that is what appreciation is for.

  4. Thank you. I am drawn to Jacob Collin’s figurative work. He recent new York show was amazing, I know one of the paintings from that show was on the cover of The Artist magazine.

    My only landscape in oil was a bad it could make a cat laugh. To say it looked like something a 4th grader did I an insult to 4th graders everywhere. Sigh.

    Have you ever visited the fine art adoption site?
    there is an artist there who paints these amazing minimalistic boats. While normally not my favorite genre, his work is powerful and amazing.
    I am trapped on I95 south ATM, but I will link his work later-and try to fix the typo, sigh.

  5. don’t worry, I was joking 😉

  6. Mongoose1,
    Your post is very thoughtful. I am and artist and collect also but haven’t ever sat down and thought what the focus of my collection is nor what I want.
    I’m more of an impulse buyer and find many of my art purchases at auction, flea markets and second hand stores where some awesome work has been THROWN OUT!!! I can hardly believe it, and so part of my focus, I suppose, is rescuing art, reframing it to put it into value.
    I see that you like high realism, from the looks of the links you provided and I can see why you like Ted Seth Jacobs less than the others. There is a lot of sugar in his colours and his subjects feel very stiffly posed or contrived.
    Those other portrait artist though. Whew! They are mighty powerful. I like it when an artist can capture the personality of a subject – the soul shows through.

  7. Gregory Peterson explained that to collect art you need that statement. I am not certain I am a serious collector like he is, but I know I’ve bought a thing or two that I may have passed on had I put more thought into it.

    The main idea is to conserve funds so that when you see something you want, you can buy it. But from what he’s told me, the savings placed into an art slush fund is part of the fun of collecting.

    I still buy some works for under $100. But I purchased something recently that I am making installment payments on (an agreement with the artist directly) and after that, I doubt I will buy anything until after next spring or summer.

    Thank you for stopping by!

  8. Pingback: Paige West at the Corcoran « Skating at the Edge of Infinity

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