Beautiful Winter Paintings to Bring Warmth to Your Home

by Lisa Doherty 11. December 2018 16:36

Some people love the whole winter season and the build-up to Christmas, while others simply love the festive period.

Either way, it’s a time to make your home a cosy winter wonderland for friends and family. Here are our top picks for capturing that festive winter spirit.

Snowy landscapes

Nothing says Christmas like a snowy landscape; and as we don’t often get the white Christmas we always dream of, why not recreate it your own home?

There’s something about a snowscape that brings out nostalgia and warmth in people. Looking out at the cold, while being warm and dry indoors can be a very mindful and uplifting experience. The Danish have a great word for this - hygge - which decribes a feeling of warmth and enjoying the good things in life with good friends.

The Danes are some of the happiest people in the world, which means there must be something about a winter landscape that lifts the soul. Come on, get the open fire burning, hang the paintings up and, if you really want to go for it, get wearing those Christmas jumpers. You know you want to …

Have a giggle

Christmas is a time of fun, so why not buy art that makes you and your guests smile? There is nothing like a light-hearted painting to put a smile on your face.

The winter season is great for characterisation in art as there’s something about animals and snow that makes us smile.

For those of you who’ve had pets or watched animals negotiating the white stuff, it’s pretty funny and guaranteed to make even the most serious among us smile.

It’s also the time of year where it gets dark early, it’s cold and can be quite miserable sometimes, so putting something on your wall that makes you smile, and forget the cold for a bit, can only be a positive thing.

Towns and cities

Snow can make everything look amazing, bringing smoothness and calm to an otherwise jagged and jostling environment. That's why it’s a very popular subject in art.

We have nearly 300 paintings of snow available to buy right now. One reason is because snow can be a challenge for artists to recreate with paint – capturing the glisten, movement and soft feeling of snow – not to mention a popular theme for the home.

Snowscapes of towns and cities are also great as they capture what may usually be seen as a mundane view and turn it into an almost magical image. Especially if it’s a painting of your home town.

The other great thing about snowscapes is that they work with a wide-range of interiors, from a contemporary look right through to a more traditional theme, which makes it a really versatile style of art.


There’s something about famous landmarks around the globe that, when captured from a different perspective, makes them stand out even more.

Usually, landmarks are painted or photographed on a sunny day or against a dusky backdrop to have more of a picture-postcard feel. But when captured in the snow it can make it look more unconventional, creating a different image altogether.

Abstract winter scenes

Not everybody is a traditionalist or has an interior that fits with a more formal style of painting, so there are also abstract winter landscapes to work with a modernist or minimalist look.

For an artist that is trying to capture the movement, texture or even the range of colour in snow, abstract art enables them to achieve this, offering them more freedom and scope for personal expression.

A gritty realist

OK, so not all of us like a romantic winter landscape, but instead prefer a more realistic or urban representation of winter. It can be strangely comforting to see wet, slushy snow, or iced remnants of snowfall, when you’re cosy and comfortable indoors.

For a lot of city dwellers, there’s a deep love for the grey, winter snowscape that is so different from a countryside idyll. It is this difference that gives them a sense of comfort, and a feeling of joy, to be inside and out of the chaos of a city.

Whatever your taste, there is always art to match it, and always a perfect wall to hang it. Treat yourself this Christmas or make it a really personal gift for a loved one. A great painting will last forever.


Buying Art

Art for Christmas - the Ultimate Gift Guide

by Lisa Doherty 21. November 2018 11:24

Art, in all its amazing forms, is the gift that keeps on giving. It’s a really personal and thoughtful present for loved ones, friends or even that certain someone you’ve been trying to impress!

We’ve got a whole heap of gifts to choose from, and here are some of our top picks and tips on buying the best presents.


There are over 42,000 art works on ArtGallery, so we’re pretty confident you’re going to find the perfect gift.

Paintings last almost forever and are a great way to show how much somebody means to you. They even look great under the Christmas tree!

The challenge with art is that it’s very subjective, so when choosing a gift always keep the person you’re buying for at the very front of your mind. In most cases, the rule of thumb is to buy a present that you’d like to get, but in the case of art, think about what the other person would want.

If you’re going to visit that person before the festive period, it’s worth checking out what they hang on their walls to give you inspiration. If they mainly have photography or abstract art, then a traditional landscape scene is probably not going to be their preferred style of art.

Having said that, there’s nothing wrong with shaking things up a bit. Sometimes a leftfield gift can be a great way to introduce new styles and themes. If you think a particular painting would look great in their home, then a good compromise could be to fuse two styles.

For example, an abstract landscape may be something they’ve not considered before.


Why not get off the wall and get three-dimensional with a gift of sculpture. If you feel buying a painting is just too much of a risk, then sculpture can be the perfect alternative.

There are so many styles and forms that suit every style of interior.

The fact that sculpture is mainly made from neutral-coloured and textured materials means it’s a really versatile medium. Even if you choose a more traditional theme, such as a nude, it’s hard to go wrong, even in a highly contemporary room or house.

Sculpture also looks amazing in an outdoor setting, so if you’re buying for a keen gardener, a piece of art could transform their garden and help bring out the style or theme of the outdoor space.

Finishing touches

Art can even help accessorise a room, which is why we have a gift shop on our site with an extensive range of finishing touches to help complete a look or room set.

Lighting is an important part of the interior design process, so buying a light sculpture can help shape a room and its mood. It also serves two purposes, as it’s not just a piece of art, but a functional gift as well. Ideal for the more practically-minded amongst us.

On the theme of practical gifts, form and function can take shape in so many objects. If you’re buying for a person who doesn’t really have an interest in painting or sculpture, then what about a useful household item, such as a teapot or soap dispenser?

Art can present itself in so many ways, so even for the most practical of people, there’s a way to give them something visually outstanding that has a useful purpose.

Sports enthusiasts

Buying for a sports enthusiast does make the gift-giving process a lot easier. There are many artists painting scenes of sports people, horses or competitions in action, so there’s something for every sports fan.

For example, if you know someone who is devoted to a particular football team, there are paintings of stadiums to delight, and even portraits of footballing legends to really help fuel their passion in the sport.

Christmas budget

As much as we’d love it, we don’t all have a disposable budget at Christmas, which is why we have a selection of art for every pocket. Whether it’s a few pounds or thousands, we have something for everyone.

Not only do we sell works for people making a long-term investment, but we also sell pieces for under £50. Currently, we have a range that includes a framed print by Claudinne Peronne, for all those cat lovers out there, and some Pop Art by Lee Proctor.

Even our gift shop sells items for the budget conscious, and the reason for this is because we believe in art for everybody, and not something that is the preserve of the rich and famous.

I haven’t got a clue

If the process is proving to be tougher than you thought – after all there are 42,000 pieces to choose from! - then there’s always a Gift Voucher. It’s still a great gesture and it means you can feel more confident that that person will choose a piece of art they love.

We sell Gift vouchers to suit every budget, that start from as little as £5, and go right up to as much as £500.

Whichever way you look at it, art as a gift is a highly personalised gesture that has a positive impact on many levels. What better way to show someone how much they mean to you than a present that isn’t disposable, but lasts for years, if not a lifetime.


Buying Art

Art for Interiors: Sculpture

by Lisa Doherty 9. November 2018 15:52

It’s a common feeling that sculpture is for large houses or stately homes, and that it can be a little, well, fusty and old fashioned.

The good news is that this isn’t necessarily the case. Sculpture can be a dynamic and engaging art form for any size of house. From a stately home to a studio, sculpture can work in any environment.

Let's take a look at how this medium has changed over the years to become an artform that can bring any interior to life.

History of sculpture

As one of the oldest forms of art, sculpture dates back to ancient Greece and Egypt, perhaps even before. We’ve all sat through history lessons and seen sculptures of figures standing in a set pose, or military statues where the hero strides and looks to the future, but this medium has evolved a lot since then.

Throughout history, sculpture was a way for the rich, famous or heroic to preserve their name in history. Whether that was the sitter in a formal pose or represented as a Greek or Roman myth. This is why a lot of this art form represents people in a lifelike pose, part of a story or staring out as a formal head and shoulders bust.

Auguste Rodin is seen as a key figure to break sculpture out of referencing history and the Greek myths to become art in its own right. He believed in creating figures in more natural poses that were more about the human form and emotion than history.

Just look at his masterpiece, The Kiss. There’s nothing formal about that sculpture.

The Kiss by Sara Sutton
The Kiss by Sara Sutton

Following Rodin, there was Constantin Brancusi who turned sculpture into an abstract art form, as well as Alberto Giacometti, whose iconic figures helped change perceptions of sculpture.

It was these artists who helped allow sculpture to be whatever the artist wanted it to be. It was no longer about a historical reference or pose, but about expression and emotion.

What style to choose

There are no hard and fast rules with sculpture. This is because the artist is working 3-dimensionally, which gives them so much more scope for their imagination to run free. Of course, we still see ‘traditional’ figurative forms, but now we also have abstract and conceptual sculpture.

Abstract sculpture is mainly made up of shapes and distorted forms and tends to work well with modern or minimalist interiors. Like painters, sculptors also look to capture movement or flow in their works, and abstraction is a great way to capture this in 3-D form.

Conceptual sculpture is that notorious form of art that usually leads to viewers in art galleries saying; ‘I could do that’. Yep, it’s that pile of bricks or chair in the middle of a room that leaves people baffled as to why it is art.

This form of sculpture is challenging, often deliberately provocative, and can be quite hard to read. However, it is this challenge that makes conceptual art so much more rewarding. It makes you think and leaves you with more questions than answers. Having a piece in your home will never be boring, that’s for sure!

With sculpture, you don’t have to stick to one particular style. Having a mixture in your home can work well. Like a gallery wall, sometimes opposing forms can really stand out when placed together.

Sculpture for the garden

Sculpture can be created using a wide range of materials. The traditional materials were bronze and marble, but now it can be anything from iron to stone, to papier mache and include found and upcycled materials. 

One of the key reasons for using bronze or marble is that it is extremely hard wearing and durable. It’s a good material for a piece that is going to stand outside in the elements.

When choosing sculpture for the garden, it’s really important to look at what material it has been made with as it may not be ideal for outdoor purposes. Most garden sculpture is made with durable, or recycled metals to ensure it can withstand the wind and weather. Wood is also a good material as it is natural and designed to be outside.

For example, you may think plastic is perfect, but if left in direct sunlight, the colour can fade and it can become brittle over time. Either way, if you’re unsure, then it’s always worth asking the artist, who can then advise on the best location for the piece.

What size for your space?

Most sculpture is now made for the desk, table top, mantelpiece or wall. It’s only really garden sculpture that tends to be larger in size and scale. The days of sculpture only belonging to the super-rich or aristocracy are long gone. Instead, this is an affordable artform that can sit well within any domestic setting.

When we think of art we do tend to think more about paintings, but sculpture is also a form that is worth considering. If you live in rented accommodation or a listed building or any other environment where there may be issues with putting things on walls, you can still liven up your place with 3-dimensional art.

No matter what your space, sculpture can transform it. Make it a focal point to create a vibrant room designed to impress friends and family alike.


Buying Art

Different Ways to Create an Art Gallery in Your Own Home

by Lisa Doherty 24. October 2018 11:54

You’ve bought some paintings and, if you’re a super-efficient and organised person, then you’ve already hung them and they look amazing. We salute you.

If, like the rest of us, they’re still in their packaging or, ahem, leaning against the wall waiting to be hung, then we reckon you need some motivation to finish the job. It can seem like a bit of a chore and it does appear to be one of those jobs that gets put off every weekend.

We’re here to get you motivated and in the zone. Stand back, take a look at the room or space you want to hang your paintings, throw out any preconceived notions and have some fun bringing your walls to life.

Plan before you hang

As with any interior project, the key is in the planning. Firstly, make sure your selected paintings come to life and work in your chosen room. It’s worth moving them around your home just to double-check it doesn’t look even better in another space or in a different light.

Once you’ve done this, sketch out on a piece of paper how you want the chosen wall to look. Think about whether it’s going to be minimalistic with one painting or a feature wall with many, as well as whether it’s going to have the work of one specific artist or a selection.

This will help give you a clearer idea of the style you are trying to achieve and how you want the wall to look. It can be frustrating when you’ve hung the paintings and the layout doesn’t work as well as it did when you imagined it.

Get cramming

Sometimes the best results can be achieved by going with gut instinct. If you want to use up every bit of wall space, then go for it!

Cramming paintings on a wall is great for creating a homely and cosy atmosphere. If you like a more lived-in look then this way of hanging art is ideal. It can also make a big, potentially cold space look a bit smaller and more inviting.

This way of displaying art is also particularly good in a child’s bedroom, as you can hang all their favourite pictures without having to worry too much about themes and styles. It also doesn’t matter how high or how low you go on the wall, it still looks just as effective.

Become an art gallery

If you’re buying art as an investment, then this is a great opportunity to make it the focal point of your home. By using a neutral colour palette on walls and a more detailed use of lighting, especially downlighters, you can create a gallery space.

If there are any areas, such as the hallway, where you can have hidden cupboards and remove any furniture, then you can create a space that will amaze friends and visitors alike. Suddenly your home becomes something altogether very different, a creative hub or even an actual gallery.

Break the rules!

Ok, so there are set conventions on hanging paintings in order to give you and your guests the best way to look at art. However, there’s nothing wrong with throwing out the rule book from time to time.

If you want to hang a large painting or photograph in a smaller or more compact space, then there’s nothing to say you can’t. if it works, go for it.

Large painting of a horse
Image courtesy of Houzz
Three walls with a painting on each

Additionally, if you want opposing styles and media to hang next to each other, or even hang a painting higher than the eyeline, then breaking these conventions can also be very effective.

Art collection comprised of different media
Image courtesy of Houzz
Simple gallery in a home
Image courtesy of Houzz


Don't hang it

If all else fails, there are other solutions besides putting nails in a wall. Bulldog clips have become a popular way of displaying art, and sticking posters on a wall is starting to make a comeback as well.

Gallery wall comprised of posters
Image courtesy of Houzz

If you live in a Victorian property and still have picture rails in your rooms, then hanging a painting from these is also starting to see a resurgence. What was, until recently, seen as a very dated way of hanging art now works well with an eclectic or Vintage interior.

Gallery wall in a home using picture rails
Image courtesy of Houzz
Pictures hung using picture rails
Image courtesy of Houzz

As the saying goes; your house, your rules. Don’t be afraid to hang art in a way that works for you and your home. More often than not, it’s the painting that will tell you where it looks great, so whether that’s on a wall, in a frame or simply leaning against a mantelpiece, it won’t fail to impress guests and be a constant joy to look at.


Buying Art

Autumnal Art - Capturing the Colours of the Season

by Lisa Doherty 10. October 2018 08:52

The great British weather. Totally unpredictable and a topic of conversation that never gets boring!

One thing you can be sure of though, is the seasons. As we now hit Autumn, the nights start drawing in and the onesies or the cosy clothes start to make an appearance. Besides that, it’s also a great time for artists, and in today's blog we're looking at some of the best art for this season.

Falling leaves

From an artistic perspective, Autumn is the complete package as the light becomes softer and more dramatic and the leaves change, transforming the landscape into a riot of colour.

This gives the artist so much scope to create works that are very different in light, shape and colour, even though they may be capturing the same view. It’s also why we have over 700 paintings on our site on this season alone.

Autumn is also great from an interiors point of view. The range of tones this season provides means autumnal art is able to work with a range of schemes and styles. It can provide a splash of colour to a minimalist or modernist interior, as well as help define a style like Mid-Century or Vintage.

Despite the fact that Autumn can be quite chilly, the colours of this season are really warm and vibrant with rich reds, yellows and orange tones. This means it can add warmth to a cold or dark space that may not get much light.

It’s not only about colour at this time of year, as there a range of well-loved festivals and events in the run-up to Christmas, which provides loads of inspiration to create atmospheric and dramatic art.


Of course, Autumn wouldn’t be Autumn without Halloween. A great time to get spooked and go trick or treating, as well as a chance to have a lot of fun with art.

Paintings can really help create a haunting atmosphere, not to mention capture the imagination. Many classic horror films have used art to add to the feeling of fear in a scene … to great effect! Think about the spyhole scene in Psycho where Norman Bates stares through a hole in the picture Susannah and the Elders, which itself portrays a voyeuristic and ugly scene. 

Halloween is a great time for artists to get really carried away and let their imagination run riot. A good painting can also be the stuff of great memories, especially if it’s quite a haunting image.

Why not create more of an atmosphere by hosting a Halloween party and make up stories around an image to get all spooky with children, grandchildren or even friends?


Probably the noisiest time of the year, Bonfire night really marks the start of the cold weather. It’s also a time of amazing colour when all around can feel and look a little grey.

For artists, fireworks are great for capturing noise and colour in a painting. Its chaotic nature is a great way to show movement and energy, as well as a chance for an artist to do more abstract work.

The other good thing about fireworks paintings is that, unlike Halloween, it’s not specific to one season as it’s also used for celebrations or to mark change. As a result, art on this theme can stay on the wall all year round.

Latest artists

Gill Bustamante creates atmospheric scenes that are mainly set in forests and really capture the essence of the seasons. Amazingly, most of her work is painted from memory.

Oleg Riabchuk paints highly realistic scenes of countryside at various points throughout the year. He comes from a family of artists and has also exhibited in museums, so if you’re looking to buy art as an investment, he may be an artist to watch.

Finally, Louise Gillard paints scenes from parks and open spaces around South London. Her use of light and brush work gives them a vintage feel. And, the fact that her scenes don’t usually include people, also means they’re great paintings to capture the imagination.


Artists | Buying Art

How to Read a Portrait

by Lisa Doherty 26. September 2018 16:00

Portraits can say so much with so little. Portraiture requires a very high level of skill and it's an amazing form of art.

Even so, portraits are so personal and intimate that some people can doubt whether it's an appropriate form of art to hang in your home. Let us change your mind and show you how this form of art can be really engaging and will mentally always keep you on your toes.

Symbols in portraiture

Before photography, a painted portrait was the only way people could represent themselves to friends, family or potential suitors.

As a result, the artist had to capture and communicate a lot in one image, such as the status of the sitter, whether they were wealthy, from a powerful family or the subject’s profession. One way to communicate this was through symbols, which could be jewellery, clothes or ‘tools of their trade’, such as a map for a merchant or trader.

If you take a look at the images above it is clear that both sitters are wealthy or from successful families. The older lady is wearing gold and pearls and is dressed in a way that we recognise to be the style of mature, affluent people.

Again, with the young girl you can see that she is wearing pearls, a traditional symbol of wealth, and her dress is made with a rich fabric, which could be silk. The necklace with the pendant also represents a figure, which communicates that she is not only from a rich family, but also a powerful one.

If you want to delve a little deeper then both of these paintings can tell us so much more than what we at first see. For example, why is the little girl wearing those particular earrings, what is she holding in her hand, or why is she wearing that dress?

Just as you would look your best for a family photo - you also want to communicate something about you that shows your personality and identifies who you are, and this is no less the case with a portrait.

Playing with the past

Once photography became popular and mainstream, there was no need to accurately represent a person in a painting, so portraiture became more about capturing the ‘essence’ of the sitter.

They say the eyes are the windows to the soul, and capturing that depth is key to a good portrait, which can be shown in a variety of ways.

There are some artists that like to merge the present with traditional portraits of the past. Christopher Gill likes to paint contemporary subjects in the style of a Renaissance-style portrait.

By doing this he’s highlighting that there are still similarities and connections between the old and the new. Although the girl in the painting above is in a leather jacket, the painting is framed with traditional gold gilt, typical of a renaissance painting.

The fact that the two elements contrast or conflict with each other, also means it has a great effect. It’s this contrasting of styles, and the associated questions they raise, that makes portraits so interesting.

Contemporary portraits

The pursuit of the ‘essence’ of the sitter remains as strong as ever today, which is why portraits are now captured in so many styles and subjects.

There are some artists that paint abstract portraits in order to catch a mood, and others that use charcoal or pencil to capture the sitter in their ‘rawest’ form.

Using the simplest materials for portraits makes them feel more like ‘studies’ or practice drawings for the final portrait, which is a great way of capturing the subject’s personality.

This was also a practice used by Leonardo Da Vinci, Raphael and other Renaissance artists in order to make sure they communicated the right pose and message in their final painting.

Latest artists

There are many artists doing exciting things with portraiture. Dimitris Pavlopoulos paints abstract portraits in a primitive style, which are visually very striking and engaging.

Hannah Musial uses felt pen to create her portraits, which are mainly of women captured in a moment or pose. They really make you think about what the subject is doing or thinking to great effect.

And, Marc Riley paints both abstract and non-abstract portraits that can be quite haunting and dramatic. They would make great standout pieces in a living room or study.

The list of artists could go on as there are many more on our site, but these give you a flavour of how exciting and interesting a portrait can be.

There’s so much more to this style than just a face.


Art History | Artists | Buying Art

Art for Offices

by Lisa Doherty 21. September 2018 10:19

Your employees are probably now all back from their summer holidays, and with the next break being Christmas, we imagine there’s a fair amount of the holiday blues going around the office.

A great way to help reduce this and boost morale is hanging some great art on the office walls. You may be more of a fan of the clean white walls and wood floor look, but a splash of colour and striking visuals can make all the difference employee motivation and productivity.

To hang or not to hang?

Let’s face it, the main requirements for a business are happy and motivated staff. They mean people will stay longer and create an all-round, positive working environment.

Achieving this is not just about great perks or bonuses, but also about the ‘softer’ touchpoints, such as the office space. The trend for the New York Loft-style interior is now being replaced with colour and vibrancy. Why? Because, quite simply, plain walls don’t increase productivity.

There is a school of thought that a plain office environment reduces distractions and increases productivity, but research from the University of Exeter found that this isn’t the case at all. In fact, they found that people who worked in ‘Enriched Offices’ with art and plants were 15% quicker and had fewer health complaints than employees who worked in ‘Lean Offices’ with plain walls.

To add to that, the University study also found that motivational posters didn’t constitute art and had no impact on the employees or the workplace. Essentially, staff need something visually interesting to inspire and help rest their mind from a task or looking at a screen for too long.

Types and styles of art

Hanging art that challenges the viewer is ideal for the workplace. It also needs to be a good size for it to be noticed and stand out when hung on the wall. If it’s too small, employees simply won’t see it and it won’t have the desired effect.

An office may not be the right environment for a traditional landscape or portrait, but Abstract or visually challenging Photography does work well. The reason for this is because they are open to interpretation, which gives the mind a chance to escape and think of something different. Not to mention inspire creativity.

A Meeting in the Aisle by Simon Cleary
A Meeting in the Aisle by Simon Cleary

Art is also good to help reduce noise. If acoustics are an issue, then a painting will help dampen sound, and if you have a noisy reception area or communal space, sculpture or an installation are also useful.

If you’ve gone for a particular look and feel or style in your office, then there is scope to buy art that may clash or contradict the design. As we’ve seen with gallery walls, mixing and clashing styles can really work well together.

Ultimately, you don’t want the art to blend in too much otherwise it will lose impact. You want your employees to sit back, take a mindful moment and embrace the image, so don’t be afraid to be bold!


Colour does have an effect on mood, so it’s important to take this into consideration when buying art for offices.

Blue is calming, whereas Red is energising and can encourage conversation. If your office is in need of a bit more energy and noise, then this colour will help. Yellow wakes the brain up and encourages thought, so is a great colour for the workplace as it can help give employees more energy and creativity.

Green and Orange are probably not the best colours at work as they are more calming, earthy tones that are better suited to more personal spaces or home interiors.

Black is a very confident colour, so monochrome photography could also work in an office environment. It may be worth breaking this up with splashes of colour to avoid creating the feeling of a ‘Lean Office’.

Three-Dimensional Art

Art doesn’t have to be a painting or a photograph, it can also be sculpture or three-dimensional, which could really shake things up in an office.

The conventions are to have paintings on a wall, but what about a piece of standalone art within the office space. It could really change the way employees think and help drive creativity. It could also be a little disruptive, but, in a corporate environment, that may not be a bad thing.

Good art is challenging and can make for good talking points with colleagues, which can also help create more of a team atmosphere and encourage conversation. As we all know, it can be easy to work in a bit of a silo, so it’s always good to break out of that from time to time.

Art can be a really positive force for good and can transform any space. The workplace is full of different personality types and interests, but a painting or sculpture can help colleagues find common ground. Not only that but buying original art doesn’t have to bust the budget as there is so much for all price ranges and styles. Go on, get shopping and have some fun!


Art for Interiors: Surrealism

by Lisa Doherty 15. August 2018 20:58

How many Surrealists does it take to screw in a lightbulb? A Fish

Not all of us like conventional or traditional art. Some people may want something a little different, something quirky, that gets them thinking and talking. This is where Surrealist art can be a great alternative, it’s weird, whacky and sometimes a little bit bonkers.

Of course, when we think of Surrealism we immediately think of Salvador Dali, but there’s more to this art movement than you’d imagine, and it’s also a great style to hang in the home.

What is Surrealism?

Brace yourself, we’re about to get Metaphysical and Freudian.

The earliest form of Surrealism can be seen in the work of Italian artist, Giorgio De Chirico. He painted dreamlike scenes that had a sense of the otherworldly, or Metaphysical. De Chirico’s paintings were loaded with symbolism and fused with references to psychology, as well as the Greek myths; as you can imagine, they had a profound influence on the Surrealist artists, who were mainly, Rene Magritte, Max Ernst, and the most famous of all, Salvador Dali.

Alongside De Chirico, the surrealists were also heavily influenced by Sigmund Freud. His book, ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’ outlined his belief that dreams were driven by the unconscious mind and represented deeper meaning. He felt they were full of symbolism, as well as open to interpretation and analysis to help understand an individual’s state of mind.

Freud’s theories helped shape the themes and content for Surrealist art - think Dali’s melting clocks. Combine De Chirico’s enigmatic spaces with the power and strangeness of dreams, and you have the source of Surrealist inspiration, as well as a deeper understanding of what they attempt to capture in their art.

Capturing dreams

Although Surrealist paintings capture a dream-state, they’re not just random scenes, far from it. This art is loaded with symbolism and meaning and is very carefully thought out, which is slightly contradictory to the chaos and unpredictable strangeness of dreams.

This movement, however, did want to capture the essence of dreams in all its jumbled, surreal state, leaving it open to psychological interpretation. At a time when therapy and psychoanalysis were becoming increasingly mainstream, Surrealist art certainly captured that moment in time.

In fact, Freudian analysis was so popular, Salvador Dali worked with Alfred Hitchcock on his film, Spellbound, to create the iconic dream sequence with Gregory Peck.

There were artists, though, that did want to capture the immediacy and unpredictability of the subconscious mind, such as Jean Arp, who’s automatic drawings, or automatism, were spontaneous works of art where the hand was allowed to move randomly and freely across the paper or canvas.



Weird and wonderful

There is also another strain of Surrealism that questions accepted norms and standards. Dali questioned why a telephone meant telephone, and why he wasn’t handed a Lobster instead. Basically, he was questioning language and human understanding.

This element of challenging human understanding has become a very popular strain of Surrealism. It can make for humorous and entertaining art. This is probably the most popular form, as it can be nonsensical and easier to ‘read’ than a more complex Surrealist painting that is loaded with symbolism.

Leading artists

As it is a popular style, there are still many artists producing Surreal works of art. Spencer Derry is an artist whose work combines Surrealism and automatic drawings to produce complex and detailed results. 

Neil Helmsley is a digital artist who uses this new medium to create dreamlike, haunting images. Digital art enables artists to create more imaginative and experimental works, and something Salvador Dali would have probably used if he were alive now.

Janette Boskett creates landscapes and still lifes with a surreal twist. Painted in a style similar to Rene Magritte, she takes the everyday and plays on the use of language to create lighthearted paintings that amuse and entertain.   

The term Surrealism covers such a broad range of art that there are paintings to suit every taste, style and budget. It can range from being lighthearted to very serious and conceptual, which means it can be hung anywhere in a home.

Like Dali, Surrealism does like to show off, so make sure that, wherever you decide to hang it, it’s always front and centre to grab people’s attention. As one of the most famous art movements, some people may feel that Surrealism is a little dated and unfashionable; looking at what’s being created by artists in the present day, we’d say this was far from true.


Art History | Buying Art

How to Hang: Landscapes

by Lisa Doherty 31. July 2018 09:48

Landscape art is a style that gets very mixed reactions. There is a perception that it is old-fashioned, a little bit predictable and only shows scenes of rolling hills and lush, green fields intended to conjure up a chocolate-box vision of an imagined Britain from the past. 

Well, this isn’t always the case. Landscape art is developing in many interesting ways and there is so much more to this style than meets the eye.

Let's take a look at the latest traditional and contemporary landscapes to show you that there’s something for everyone, and that all is not what it seems.

What is a landscape?

Before photography came into existence, landscape painting was the best way of showing our appreciation of the beautiful British countryside. 

Once the camera became a mass consumer product, landscape art responded to the challenge and took to looking at nature in a completely different way. There was less of a need to capture a realistic view in a painting because a photograph did all that anyway.

To add to this, industrialisation dramatically altered the UK’s green and pleasant vistas to create more urban landscapes. Artists started painting politically charged scenes that challenged this change to the natural order. From Constable’s famous painting, The Hay Wain, to Turner’s highly charged, abstract scenes of the sea - these weren’t simply romanticised views of Merrie England but, in part, statements on rural change, mechanisation and the permanent loss of landscape. 

Essence Of A Storm Impressionist Seascape 27.5
Essence Of A Storm Impressionist Seascape 27.5" x 23.5" On Canvas by Maxine Martin

Today, landscapes tend to explore the issue of how we live, as well as the impact the human race is having on the land and the environment. They also tend to be more complex and symbolic than straightforward reproductions or nature, intendted to make you challenge and question what you are looking at.

Modern landscapes

Since the advent of impressionism, artists have felt completely free to interpret their subjects any way they like, and this has been great for landscape art, making it a hotbed of creativity. 

Light is one way that has sparked this change. If you travel to different parts of the UK or the world, artists are painting landscapes that are made up of sequences of colours, which are based on the differences in light and shade in that particular area.

Some areas will have a softer light, others starker, harsh light, which is represented through differences in shade or tone. As there is no such thing as a pure colour, artists will use a range of colours to create their interpretation of a landscape.

The artist will give you their vision in a painting, whereas, a photograph will give you the reality (the camera never lies?) As it rose to dominance alongside industrialisation, it seems only natural that photographers tend to capture more urban scenes of towns growing or in decay.

This style of photography is also filled with symbolism around what is seen and what is meant by the image. A run-down building may not be the most attractive view, but when you look at what it stands for and ‘read’ it in more detail, it suddenly becomes something very different.

Not only that, but photography also captures stunning landscapes. Instead of being purely documentary images, these views can take on different meaning and form when taken from the viewpoint of the photographer. Also, unlike paintings, a camera can capture true scale and representation of a landscape with amazing results.

Seascapes and cityscapes

Landscapes aren’t always views of hills or derelict buildings, they can also be scenes of beaches, seas, towns or cities.

Seascapes are very popular subjects for artists as the weather offers constantly changing views and perspectives, so it’s impossible to get bored.

You could have a whole gallery wall of the same beach, but every painting will be different! This is no less the case with cityscapes, as, again, these scenes are all down to interpretation. One artist may see a street or area one way, whereas another may take a completely different perspective.

Getting traditional

If you’re a bit more of a traditionalist and prefer a more pastoral view, there are many artists creating stunning landscapes. Emma Cownie paints landscapes and urban scenes, but with a classic twist that are bursting with light and shade.

Graeme Robb is another artist who also paints more traditional views. It was while he was on a charity bike ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats that he fell in love with landscape painting. Some of his scenes are dominated by clouds and are very ‘nostalgic’ views of the British countryside.

Cloudscapes are also another form of art that comes under the landscape banner. Constantly changing and very dramatic, they are ripe subjects for stunning scenes and great to hang in a room where you need to be calm and creative, such as an office or study.

So, who said landscapes were dull? There is a lot more to this style than meets the eye and it’s well worth checking out. With so many different types of landscape there is a painting for every room in the house, don’t you think it’s time to check out this very modern art?


Art History | Buying Art

How Colour Affects Mood

by Lisa Doherty 23. July 2018 11:30

As we all know, colour can influence our mood. There are some tones that can make you feel positive and focused, creative and calm and others that can make you feel angry or negative. If you’re looking to update your home or buy a painting in a specific tone or shade, then colour can influence your buying decision, as it’s not just about liking an image or shade, but also the effect of the colour on your emotions.

We look at how colour can affect mood to help you decide what room to hang a painting in; after all, what may work in a living area, may not necessarily work in a study or bedroom.

Why does colour affect mood?

The brain responds to colour, which is controlled by the hypothalamus. This secretes hormones, as well as regulates and controls various impulses, such as hunger, body temperature and sleep patterns.

As a result, in the light of the morning, which is usually blue/green in colour, cortisol is released to stimulate the brain. Whereas, the blue light of dusk and going into the evening releases melatonin to make us drowsy.

Improvisation No.13 aka Brain in colour by Andrei Autumn
Improvisation No.13 aka Brain in colour by Andrei Autumn

The brain processes and responds to colours accordingly, so whether or not we actively feel like our emotions are reacting, colour does have a subconscious impact.

For example, a railway company in Japan wanted to decrease the rate of suicide on the line. In response to this they installed blue lighting, which has reduced these incidences by 74%. Why? Because blue is a calming colour and puts people in a more positive frame of mind.

Oxygen by Branisa Beric
Oxygen by Branisa Beric

Room selection

Sticking with the colour blue, not only is it calming, but it is also an intellectual colour, which is great for environments where people need to be productive, such as an office or studio. It is also said to reduce heart rate and blood pressure.

New Hope by Lesley Finney
New Hope by Lesley Finney

Take caution, however, some blue tones, such as a light pastel blue can be quite cool and therefore make you feel detached, aloof or antisocial.

When it comes to red, this is a whole different ball game; it is vibrant, energetic, as well as an empowering and strong colour. Use this colour wisely though, and only in rooms that need a lift in spirit. It’s a colour that encourages conversation so it’s ideal for social spaces such as a lounge or dining area.

As you can imagine, red is not necessarily a great colour for bedrooms as it essentially wakes the brain up and encourages thought. This is where a blue tone would probably work best to encourage a good night’s sleep. If you want to feel creative and confident, then yellow’s your colour! Like the sun, it makes us feel happy and positive.

It’s a great colour for bedrooms, as well as kitchens, social areas or hallways. Just like blue, getting the right tone of yellow is also important to create the right mood otherwise it can have the opposite effect.

As it is in nature, green is a balanced colour that encourages harmony and peace, making it ideal for bathrooms and bedrooms to create that tranquil sanctuary. Orange is also a great colour as it is a fusion and red and yellow, so it is warm and vibrant at the same time.

Opposing colours

If you’re familiar with a colour wheel then you’ll know that you can have a lot of fun using opposing or clashing colours, which can work really well in a room. It can show personality and character, not to mention - especially with original art - a real statement piece.

If you’re a little nervous about going all out for colour in a room, then white walls broken up with bursts of colour can look great, and this is where art can come into its own. White is a clean colour but can be quite cool and lack warmth, so breaking this up with a vibrant painting can make all the difference.

Black is Black

Believe it or not, black can have a positive effect on a room, as, when used as an accent colour, it can create a glamorous or sophisticated space that oozes confidence. If you think about various movements, such as Art Deco, black is frequently used as a key part of that style.

More often than not, when we think of art, we tend to think of colour, but going for a darker shade can also be just as effective. Sometimes it can help tone down a bright colour on a wall or create a striking look against a white background.

Like anything in life, rules are sometimes made to be broken, and this is no less the case with art and interiors. The unexpected can often complement each other well and bucking a trend can create amazing results.

Whatever mood you want to create in your home, art can help finish and round-off that look. There are so many styles and genres to choose from, such as abstract, figurative or landscapes, that you can create a space that is the envy of all your friends. Have fun!


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