First comes love, then comes Sold!, then comes an empty house waiting to be filled with special objects.  While everything from chairs to tea kettles can be considered household art in the gallery called your home, what about the old-fashioned things we hang on walls?

I never grew up with art in my house and didn’t frequent museums or galleries until fairly recently.  Over time, the art bug has spread and I’m enjoying the process of filling my home with original art.  The most important lesson I’ve learned when shopping for art is that it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks of the piece or if it matches your sofa or chairs.

Art is all about impulse and finding a piece that inspires emotion, whether it’s happy or contemplative or nostalgic.  You can’t really over-think your reaction to art and shouldn’t worry about the technique or whether or not your BFA pals will be impressed when they see it.  My approach to art is pretty consistent with my feelings about most things – I don’t care if it’s high culture, low culture, corporate or indie, cool or passe.  If something inspires a reaction, I’m interested.  And just like relationships, you can’t force yourself to fall in love with a piece of art because you “should”.

Of course, art can be very expensive and it’s daunting to consider spending a lot of money on something so “frivolous”, even if it is a very special piece.  I think it’s important to seek out up-and-coming artists as you build your personal collection, creating a vibrant mix of established and emerging artists in your home.

I recently read about Portland, Oregon based artist Matte Stephens on Victoria Smith’s design blog sfgirlbybay.  Matte paints with gouache on illustration board and plywood and his art takes inspiration from cityscapes, his wife Vivienne and his pets.  Matte’s work can be seen at Jonathan Adler and Velocity Art and Design, and limited edition prints of his original gouache paintings are available at his Etsy store.  I just ordered Fall in Central Park ($35 USD) and can’t wait to hang it in my kitchen, probably in a white frame like the ones below from West Elm (9×11, $16 USD).

I love the retro colour palette of Matte’s work and his whimsical interpretation of everyday life.  Naturally I’m a fan of his paintings of houses and city buildings, but I also love his spunky portraits of woodland creatures like owls, foxes, and elves.  His piece Vivienne and Friends, Wisconsin 1974 would be a great addition to a kid’s bedroom.

Vivienne and friends, Wisconsin 1974.  Limited edition print by Matte Stephens

I’ve included a few of Matte’s prints below for your enjoyment, currently available at his Etsy store.

Gramercy Park NYC small print

Visiting the sea lions in Central Park. Limited edition print by Matte Stephens

Feeding Birds. Limited edition print by Matte Stephens