When I went to visit my sister, I admired her wall of art. She has a small collection of both prints and originals. Charming works that she has found here and there, works that spoke to her, or tickled her fancy, and she bought and brought them home.
My husband is not what you would call an artsy guy. He appreciates fine art, in moderation, but spending time browsing galleries isn't something he would do, unless it was to make me happy. Yet when we got married, he brought to our marriage an original work of art he bought from the artist. He told me once that he would rather have an original from a lesser known artist, than a print from a famous one. Whatever it is that makes an original work of art special, he recognizes it and appreciates it.
I have thought about why, and I think it comes down to identity. First of all, I was brought up in a home that had to pinch pennies, where every cent counted, and original art was definitely a luxury and not something we could afford.
But my sister grew up that way, too, so that can't be all. Somehow she made the shift in her mind from"luxury I can't afford" to "luxury I can afford", but I didn't.
I am not sure why.
Maybe it is because she isn't afraid of prejudice. She isn't afraid of people thinking that she is snooty just because she collects art. She simply isn't snooty, and that is that.
Or maybe it is because she is humble. She knows that even though she is perfectly capable of making beautiful pictures, there are other artists out there that see the world differently and do what she cannot, who can give her a piece of the world to appreciate and love that she would be missing otherwise.
Maybe it is because she truly loves art and wants to makes sure that more art gets made.
Maybe it is because she is smart. She can see that original art is special, that there is something to it that can't be duplicated in a book or even in a print. The paint interacts with light in a way that ink never can. The touch of the artist comes along with the original work.
Whatever it is, I think she is right.
What farmer is there that refuses to buy food? An author, perhaps, that refrains from buying books? If I want to call myself an artist, then it seems to me that buying art should be part of my identity.
From this moment on, I am setting aside a part of each sale for buying art. I am entering the art market, looking for something special to me, from an artist that isn't too famous for me to afford. And it's a lovely feeling.