Article first published as Is Art an Accessory? on Blogcritics.

In a recent interior design-related discussion on LinkedIn, an artist began a thread with the question of what the designers’ clients might want in art. The artist described her work as abstract and based on colour theory. She posed that, given direction, she could create art to accessorize an interior design.


One suggestion was to create a series of abstracts that were colour themed so that the client could choose one to ‘go with’. However, the comment that I hope this artist takes most to heart is the one that said to find her unique style and develop it. The recommendation was to create a ‘hook’ that was hers alone and then her art would be sought for its own sake.

There are two vitally compelling reasons why this is the best advice. Like the quality of mercy described by Shakespeare in The Merchant of Venice, art of integrity (art that’s true to the artist’s creative vision) is twice blessed: it blesses the one who gives and the one who receives. An intuitive painter has an extra-sensory means of observing a subject in its essential elements and then draws on his/her talent, skill and experience to capture that and put it down on a two dimensional field.

Essential elements are emotive. What does the artist convey and how is the viewer moved? A painting of quality is articulate in conveying a feeling that will be perceived by the viewer subjectively and subliminally. We respond emotionally – or not – to a painting based on our resonance with it.

Style is irrelevant. Abstraction can evoke a sense of peace as serene as a bucolic landscape; we can be moved to tears by a portrait of someone we don’t know, or inspired by a drift of clouds that look like they might float off a canvas and engulf us in mist.


Touching Distance by Joshua Flint
It is not the accuracy in depiction of an illustration, but rather the ability of the artist to render colour, pattern, shape, texture, and light into a feeling. It is the sense of the artist’s own experience that we can relate to on a perception level that makes a painting appealing. And it is the chemistry between artist and viewer that is a quality to be sought when understanding the impact of a painting on our living environment.So, to the artist who is an abstractionist with a sound colour theory foundation, I say art is not an accessory to be chosen for its matchability. An artist starts with raw talent and follows the call of his/her own creative nature in gaining skill and confidence. From this confidence, passion is born and from passion the artist’s life is enriched.A painting of artistic passion and creative integrity will imbue our space with a light all its own. A painting valued for its own sake will always and forever go with anything. A painting bought for the love of it is not to accessorize a style but to complement a life.