The Fine Art Of Indecision: A Gallery Wall, Maybe

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THE PROBLEM [as a reformed perfectionist sees it]:

I’ve been thinking that I might want to put a collection of frames, with yet-to-be-named images, on the big blank wall in the TV room.  This wall, painted SW6142 Macadamia, is across from a run of five divided-light windows that allow us to look out into the woods behind the house.

I want something going on across from the windows but am uncertain about how much pattern I want to see over there when I look into the TV room from the kitchen.  I tend to be a bit pattern-phobic, but can stand pattern, which to me often looks cluttered, IF the pattern/shapes/colors makes sense to me.

Therein is the problem.

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AN ASIDE [for those interested in fine art]:

While I wasn’t blogging in December one of things that we did was visit NYC for a short getaway.  I’ve not spoken of it before because overall it was a lousy experience that left me wondering about humanity and my ability to deal with said humanity.

However, there were a couple of wonderful adventures during our few days in NYC.  One of which was going to MOMA to see Henri Matisse: The Cut-Out Exhibit [also here via NYT: A Walk Through The Gallery].

To see his work up close was amazing.  First, I’d never realized how intensely colorful it is, and that before he cut out his shapes, his students painted white paper these bold colors for him.  And second, the thing that struck me about the exhibit was that the cut-outs, which are easily recognizable as a whole, were not perfect in the small details.

At all.

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MY CONCLUSION [albeit a wishy-washy one]:

Looking through all the gallery wall images that one can find online, I realize that anything goes.  And I’m cool with that, in theory.  But when it comes to actually putting a framed “art” collection on my TV room wall, I hesitate.

I look at what other people have done and see that the gallery walls that appeal to me are balanced, yet stunning in their uniqueness.  There’s a flow and cohesiveness to the frames and images that I adore, but so far I haven’t been able to translate this feeling onto our TV room wall, which remains blank until I decide what to do about it.

Soon, I hope.

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Ally Bean

Observant. Creative. Humorous. Adaptable. Happy enough. Looking for the crumb of truth in the cookie of life.

25 thoughts on “The Fine Art Of Indecision: A Gallery Wall, Maybe”

  1. It’s funny. I’ve always looked at an empty wall as a blank canvas and can’t wait to fill it up! I do stick with several grounding colors though, to keep the unity. It can be a challenge, but a fun one! I hope you come up with something that pleases your eye.

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    1. Beth, my mother was the same way. She’d just toss some art up on the wall and it’d look great. But I hesitate and fuss around whenever I need to fill a wall. Things don’t look right to me, until they do.

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  2. I love Matisse, although not for me, personally. His work always looks like Being On Vacation. I am far more classical: Vermeer, for example.

    Anyway, good luck, and keep trying. Lay it all out on the floor first, right below the wall. And it helps, I think, if the pictures are those that you truly respond to.

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    1. PS–I am one of maybe two people in the entire Universe who truly dislikes (i.e. does not “get”) NYC. Really don’t understand the allure, but I would go there for the reason you went, then turn around and leave. Yes, been there. Not in a hurry to go back.

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    2. nance, the Matisse exhibit was so well staged that I came to appreciate his work better. Still not planning on putting any of it on my walls, but I enjoyed seeing it. Good idea about putting everything on the floor. Will try that.

      I understand about your reluctance to visit NYC. I get it and enjoy some of it, sometimes. This last trip, however, was not one of those times. 😦

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  3. About a year or so ago, I did a wall that goes up our staircase with old photos of family. I labored over that for a good 6 months. The pictures are all vintage black and white of parents and grandparents. I had a hard time finding quality pictures but in the end not all are great quality but overall it’s a stunning display. I love it. Black framed prints on a deep red background with a chair rail and box trimmed white bottom. I know what you mean though. I don’t like a cluttered look either so I used the same frame for all. Good luck with it.

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    1. Kate, your wall sounds perfect. I plan on using all the same frames from Pottery Barn. The ones that go the best with the wall color are wood with an orangish tone + ivory colored mats. But I still have to figure out the configuration that pleases me. Six months, you say?

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  4. You do like symmetry – which is fine. Go with same frames and mats. Groupings usually look best with distance between frames is about 1 inch more of less.
    The outside perimeter does not have to be perfectly even/square – your eye “read it as a unit” if the margins between pictures is the same.
    Be selective with the corner pictures. If you can, pick images with strong lines that “direct” or act as highways for your eyes to travel around the grouping…you look at one picture and it has a strong/dark/thick line of shape that directs you eye to the next picture (rather than leading eye to wall outside the grouping). The goal is to create an invisible “circle effect” with the corner images so viewer is encouraged to keep focused on the pictures and the grouping.
    (This is about as plain as I can say it about a process that is pretty much done automatically by most people who “throw stuff up on a wall and it looks good.”)
    Working on the floor is the easiest way to get a design you like (stand on a chair to see the entire design better)
    Or just throw stuff up on the wall – moving stuff around until you like it and it feels good. Your eye will manage it without you thinking about it. Use those little gold hangers with a single nail and a circle collar. Easy to pull in and out, Leaves small holes. And besides, the pictures will cover the holes – or a dab of paint will cover.
    You can do it!

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    1. philmouse, thanks for all the hints. You’ve explained how-to perfectly. I like the “circular effect” concept which I’ve never thought of before. I know what frames I want to use and they will be all the same color of wood with mats.

      It’s funny to me how difficult this is for me, considering that my creative mother could just throw things up and they looked good. You’d think that I might have inherited that gene from her, but no!

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      1. You are a different type of creative. Genetics have variations. The fact that you are bothered by design/shapes/order means the gene is definitely there and working – other wise you’d just go down buy the biggest cheapest sofa size “painting” with close enough colors or puppies/kittens you could find and call it done. You can do it!

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        1. philmouse, interesting analysis. The creative gene is there, but for some reason I hesitate more about home design than my mother ever did. Of course, she had college courses in it– and I’m self-taught. Thanks for your encouraging words. Ever onward, eh?

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  5. NYC around the holidays is really beautiful but really hectic. Sorry you had an awful time. I wish I could help with the art, but I don’t really have an eye for it. I tend to hang 1-3 things per wall. 🙂 But this looks very intriguing to the eye.

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    1. Kourtney, my experience in NYC had less to do with Christmas chaos and more to do with people who controlled our time. We were there for my husband’s business and as such became pawns in other people’s games.

      Thanks for the encouragement on the arrangement. I’ll probably be working on it for some time, unless I give up entirely and let the wall remain blank. 😉

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  6. I have no sense of decorating at all. I put things up and hope they work. In fact, my home is neglected in that I haven’t added anything new to my walls in over a decade. Guess I didn’t get that gene.

    As for New York, not my favorite place to visit either. Then again, I live near Cleveland, so who am I to talk?

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    1. Carrie, many aspect of home design I can do without much difficulty. I enjoy decorating our home. But for some reason putting pictures on the wall always trips me up.

      I knew what to expect when I went to NYC, so from that point of view I was prepared. But we weren’t on our own schedule and many, many things went wrong. I returned exhausted and wiser for the experience. So it goes, eh?

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  7. I mostly love NYC, but the memories are tied up with visiting Ashley there, sightseeing, the incredible energy of the city, the sights, the incredible museums(the Met and the Cloister are my favorites), sitting over a coffee/dinner and chatting. It’s one of those places that I adore visiting, but would NEVER want to live there. I am no help on your decorating conundrum. My new bathroom walls will stay empty until I can figure out what might look good there. (I have no idea!)

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    1. Margaret, I’ve visited NYC before and had fun. It has a vibe to it that either energizes or antagonizes. This visit, which was really one of Z-D’s business trips, was stressful. I’ll go back, but only if we can do what we want all the time.

      I know what you mean about leaving the wall empty until the right art appears. Thanks to the [above] advice from some of my gentle readers, I think that I’m making headway on this project.

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    1. evilsquirrel13, no 34 part reminiscence of NYC. 🙂 While it might make me feel better to unload about it, I don’t want to re-live the whole mess of a trip– which writing about it would require me to do. Instead, it shall remain a mystery shrouded in a conundrum wrapped up in a puzzle. Or something like that.

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  8. Trust your creativity. Plus you can lay the frames out on the floor so you can move them around as you please before you put them up on the wall. Doing that gives you more freedom to make “mistakes.”

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    1. la p, that’s my plan for the weekend– or whenever we get a day with clear sunshine. I’ll move the chairs and end table out of the way, then start playing with the frames on the floor. I like your idea that it makes “mistakes” ok.

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