Growing up, I never imagined myself as an art collector. Even now, it seems strange to me to describe myself that way. I think when I was younger I had this vision of an art collector as someone who was wealthy or lived a lifestyle which allowed for a lot of extra indulgences and investments.
That vision changed one day when I passed by the window of a gallery in Bloor West Village in Toronto, Canada and a piece of art caught my eye. It was a beautiful landscape, with beautiful texture and mood, showing a boat at sail. It was atmospheric and took me away to a different place when I looked at it. I walked into the gallery and inquired about the piece of art in the window and learned that it was created by two artists, Michele Woodey and Mary Kennedy, who had joined together and formed a pseudonym, Fiona Hoop, and produced works in a style involving an artistic collaboration, with each artist contributing until the piece was finished. At this point, it wasn’t just the artwork that intrigued me–it was the story behind the art. Two artists, forming a pseudonym? I had never heard of such a thing and I found it mysterious and innovative. I inquired about the price of the painting and it seemed out of reach to me. But, the gallerist working in the store, said something to me that day that I have never forgotten: “If you purchase one piece of art a year, within a few years you will have a collection.” I walked away from this encounter without purchasing the painting, but a seed was planted. Could I imagine myself as a collector? Possibly…. But I still didn’t buy the painting. I did what any reasonable person would do—I regularly jogged by the art gallery window to keep tabs on “my” painting and admire it through the glass. I stalked it until…
One day it wasn’t there. The horror!
This actually made me feel a little panicky and I went into the gallery to inquire about it. To my relief, it had simply been moved so that another painting could have the window spot. Whew. I took that as a sign, and then engaged in a longer conversation with the gallerist who offered a payment plan. This actually seemed doable. After some further discussion about framing, I ultimately decided to purchase it and pay in two (or was it three?) installments. I was excited! I owned a beautiful art piece and this set me on my journey of realizing that art collection was possible for me. In fact, I later returned to the same gallery to purchase another Fiona Hoop painting as well as artworks by local and emerging Canadian artists.
Since that time, I have continued to collect and I have a collection that I love. I have learned that visiting a gallery or attending an art show is like visual candy to me! I love having conversations with artists and gallerists about works of art and learning more about the process and connecting with the story of the work. There are so many different reasons for my various purchases but it all boils down to connecting emotionally to a work of art. I never purchase art because it could be a financial investment. While some art pieces may escalate in value, this has never been a driving factor for me. Instead, I look for things that draw me into the painting–colour, texture, and subject matter. Some of the art I own stirs up a positive memory from my past or it evokes emotion in other ways. Some pieces have the ability to transport me to a different location, like travelling through that magic door in the Narnia books! Many of my collected artworks have helped me through challenging days simply by uplifting me through their artistic elements. Gordon Harrison’s magnificent work is an example of how viewing nature through a textured, colourful lens can soothe the soul. Other pieces serve to stimulate me creatively. My most recent large purchase, a painting of giant crayons,entitled “8 Brilliant Colours” by Canadian artist Mary Ann Slater, serves as a reminder to continue to create, just as I did as a child.
I think that some people come into my home, expecting to see only my artwork on the walls. I am an artist after all! However, collecting art actually helps me grow as an artist and to connect to the artistic community. There is nothing better than owning a piece of artwork so that you can really study it. I consider myself an unofficial student of all the artists whose work adorn my walls. Also, I love the thought that, by purchasing a person’s work of art, I have helped to support their dream and I am a part of their artistic journey. And what can I say– other than that just feels good and right!
Written by: Sandra Hutton, May 2021, www.artimmersion.ca, @artimmersionstudio