You Can’t Beat Original Artwork, But Can You Afford It?

Last Friday my adorable husband and I went to the Final Friday gallery crawl. It was a really nice date, with a good laugh over the rubber chicken coin purse I badly want, a shared tiramisu gelatto, and a stroll around some rather original artists.

I actually stood in awe at one showing. Jami Tatiana Moore is a watercolor artist like none I have ever seen before. The little tags on all her work listed the medium, and I had to keep going back to check if I had read it correctly. These whimsical little canvasses just don’t look like watercolor. I kept telling myself, “Surely they are at least gouaches.” That translucent quality was not the defining characteristic of these paintings! What first grabs you (and they do grab you) is the vibrant, electric color. Next is the texture. Yes, watercolor with ACTUAL, not just visual, texture. These fantasy paintings are layer after layer after layer of intense pigment, using very little water. Jami must use up tube after tube of watercolor on these little canvasses, applying it as if it were acrylic. Each painting has an underlayer of pastel washes, evident in complex swirls and patterns, with increasing layers of design. I was mesmerized by a relief of swirls of paint in concentric circles in the shoulders and haunches of a couple of cats in one painting. They are thick and glossy and almost have a 3D effect receding into the canvas.

You can click on her painting to visit her gallery. The thing is, none of these images is as compelling as the original paintings I viewed at the CityArts gallery. I would love to have an original Jami to gaze at daily. They make me smile! But the prices! I have no doubt any one of them is worth hundreds of dollars of pigment, time, skill, and imagination. I know these are paintings that I don’t have in me, to say the least. Unfortunately, I don’t have hundreds of dollars for a small canvas. (or a large one, for that matter) And so, does one settle for a print, a reproduction? Even if she had giclees made (and I don’t see that she does), there is no way for a glorified photo to give me the same chills as seeing the amazing things she has done with watercolor in person. It’s too flat. I know it can capture the color, but how sad to separate it from its texture.

I feel the same way at museums studying a Monet or a Van Gogh. The paintings are astonishing quite apart from the energy of the paint actually on the canvas, but a poster or print can never really grab me in my inner parts the way the piece the artist actually touched can.

I have decided to start saving my change for an original artwork. I don’t know how long it may take me to amass three or four or six hundred dollars for one, but there is no substitute for a paper or canvas that still exudes the artist’s touch.

I wonder, do any of you support local artists? Or collect original artwork? How do you budget for it?

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