Tips when buying art for a present

Guest blog by Alice Sheridan

One of the joys of my ‘job’ as an artist is seeing people fall in love with art and deciding they want a painting which they can enjoy forever. But it’s not always so straightforward. If there are two of you, you have each other’s taste to take into account, or there are more practical matters like “Should it match my walls?” or “Will it fit?” And choosing art as a Christmas present? At once a brilliant idea for the spouse who has everything, and yet potentially very easy to make a mistake.

Showing as part of Artists at Home is wonderful for this as people can see artwork in a home setting which makes it easier for them to imagine. Galleries can totally throw your sense of scale, because, let’s face it – few of us live in plain white boxes! Art can make an amazing gift at Christmas but how can you get it right? I usually show my work at art fairs and often recommend this tip for people to help them visualise the space. Smaller paintings are easy to fit in but for larger works it can be hard to imagine how a painting might look in your home. One thing I recommend is to measure out the size using sheets of newspaper stuck together.

Simply measuring with a tape measure only gives you a linear dimension so the newspaper trick allows you to see the full area the painting will fill. But don’t play too safe; grouping small works together in a ‘gallery wall’ lets you add to your collection, and larger pieces in smaller spaces can have great impact.

If you are thinking of buying for a gift from an individual artist – do ask them what they recommend. Many artists will let you have work on approval for a short while. Last year I created bespoke gift cards for a husband who wanted to gift his wife a painting, but wished to let her choose. That way she had something to unwrap on the day and he knew she could pick the one she really wanted.

PS. A painting doesn’t need to match your walls! Choose it because you love it and you will never get bored. An art collection can grow with you and bring personality to your home. Listen to your instinct – when you get that slight tingle, you know it’s right.

Alice Sheridan is an artist who lives in Chiswick and regularly takes part in Artists At Home open studios every summer.

Alice’s work has been selected by The Society of Women Artists, used by Harlequin interior designers and she is represented by galleries across the UK. She has a current shared exhibition ’experience of landscape’ with artist Nadia Day at 1of 1 Design in Teddington (80 High St, Teddington TW11 8JD) open until 9th December.