Why You Should Consider Buying Paintings Online

Nowadays it is possible to buy almost anything we want or need online, and fine art is certainly no exception. With thousands of talented original artists looking to reach their ideal audiences online, there are now many excellent websites showcasing fascinating and beautiful original art for anyone who wishes to make a purchase.

There are always disadvantages to buying online – including the fact that you have to wait to actually receive the item before you can assess whether you really like it or not – but there are some many advantages too. Here are a few reasons why buy paintings online can be the right way for you to find the perfect piece of art.

The first reason why buy paintings online is a great idea is that you can find something that really appeals to your tastes and preferences, often from an artist that you would never normally come across. As with all online purchases, it has become possible to discover things online that are simply not available in our local area, and this is the same for artists and artwork that we like.

It is possible to browse numerous collections on websites and discover artists that offer certain themes and styles, such as still life, portraits, landscapes and more, all according to what we are looking for. In the past, finding art that we liked was a lot more complicated, requiring us to visit galleries and look specifically in art stores – this is no longer the case.

Another major advantage of buying art online is that it has never been easier to make a purchase. As mentioned above, buying pieces of art that we like in the past involved having to physically visit locations to purchase it, or order it specifically from the artists after we had discovered them. Now, it is simply a matter of clicking a button to add a piece of art to our online shopping basket.

Like buying a book or a piece of furniture online, all that is necessary is to be sure that a good return and refund policy is offered when you buy paintings online, and also be aware of any shipping charges or customs fees when buying from abroad. After checking these terms and conditions, you can go ahead and enjoy making your purchase.

The next point to make is that online shopping for art can actually help people discover what they enjoy art-wise, encouraging them to purchase when otherwise they simply would not. With online galleries and a simple purchasing process, it has never been easier to explore your tastes before you buy.

Online galleries and art stores also make it easier to narrow down your options, with search facilities helping you filter out portraits, still life, landscapes, large art or any particular type of art that you do or do not like. This can leave you with a more focused collection of options that you can choose from.

Lastly, a final advantage of buying art online is that you have the opportunity to support smaller and lesser known artists that are trying to make a name for themselves. Indeed, these individuals may find that the audience that appreciates their art the most is based in another country, and therefore they rely on the internet to help them sell their works.

Those who buy paintings online in order to complete their collections at home can enjoy the fact that they are able to contribute to artists who are living their passion, all whilst they appreciate beautiful artwork in their property. This, and all the other reasons above, are compelling arguments why buying artwork online is often well worth the investment.

Investigating Art Heists

One of the most perplexing cases to come across the desk of a PI is the theft of valuable art. After all, why would anyone steal fine art, since it’s so difficult to sell? Not only is it off-limits to legitimate art dealers, but the vast majority of private collectors would never buy it, either.

Art is very easy to damage. The theft itself, the transportation, and improper storage seriously erode the value and therefore the presumed payoff for the theft. Contrary to what you’ll see in the movies, art theft is not done by people who love art and want to hide it in the basement. In fact, the thieves often leave evidence of careless handling, which adds terrifically to the level of pain experienced by the museum staff or the private collector. What’s more, if there is any sentimental value attached to the artwork, the thieves don’t care about that, either.

The tools for investigating art theft are basically the same as what we use for any other investigation: surveillance, photos, interviews, and public records. Private Investigators have no police power to detain suspects for questioning, enter buildings or private property to conduct searches, or use a technique known as pretexting, where an investigator might put on a lab coat and pretend to be a medical professional in order to access information.

With the motives of the theft being so unclear and the powers of the PI being so narrow, what advantage do we have over police?

Unquestionably, the most important advantage is one of focus. While the police attention is scattered among a multitude of cases, the PI can focus a laser-sharp beam on the objectives of the client. (That’s not a license to overstep boundaries, but does help in following details that might seem insignificant to police.) Most of the stereotypes about PI’s are laughable, but one might have a kernel of truth: PI’s tend to be dogged in their ability to track down evidence and unravel the truth.

Why would a criminal want to hold on to fine art? One theory is that it is easier for a criminal to hide and store art than suitcases of cash. There doesn’t have to be any paper trail, bank statements, marked bills, or other traceable evidence. If arrested on another charge, such as a drug bust, the criminal can use his knowledge of the art’s whereabouts as a bargaining chip. And, even though he might not have taken good care of the art, the museums, owners, and the public still want it back.

Another theory is that thieves use art as collateral for big purchases like massive drug deliveries. After all, if you’re buying a $1.5 million load of contraband, is it easier to hand over that much cash, or deliver collateral that can easily be held and transferred? Having valuable collateral that the criminal doesn’t care about personally is a big advantage. It greases the wheels of criminal commerce, allowing the drug buyer to start making sales and paying off his or her debt to the seller.

PI’s are the ultimate undercover agents. They do not have badges and can arrange their cars, looks, and even the contents of their pockets so as to be unsuspicious. They can insert themselves into conversations in any bar or public place. They can travel to wherever the leads take them. In fact, Bob Wittman of the FBI’s Art Crime Team states that the ability to travel and speak knowledgeably about art is essential to recovering it.

While we do recover stolen belongings, including art, all the time, there are some famous heists that have never been solved. In March of 1990, 13 pieces of priceless art were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. And to this date, 25 years later, not a single piece was ever recovered. Suspects have died off, given the police the run-around, and even gone to prison and served long sentences. But the art itself has never been found.

If you have fine art, it is a very good idea to keep pictures of it in a safe deposit box in a different location than the artwork itself. Try to take photos of the back or any distinguishing characteristics. It’s good to use professional help because fingerprints, strong lighting, humidity, and many other factors can damage the art, even if you can’t tell by looking at it. It’s also important to carry insurance on any very expensive possession.

Choosing Artwork for Your Home – How to Interpret a Painting

THE NARRATIVE

First look for the narrative, simply describe what you see. Who or what is depicted, what’s going on? If you see people and things, the painting is figurative; if you see lines and splashes – go for non-figurative. The name of the painting might come in handy, especially when it comes to Dali.

What seems to be more important for the artist – representation or expression? Compare the paintings in the styles of hyperrealism and expressionism – you can always tell if the images look idealized or expressly distorted.

Notice the feelings you get looking at the painting, the general impression produced by the entire painting and its elements – later you will dig deeper to understand what inspired those emotions. There is a reason why you like one painting more than the other. Your taste in art is as unique as your taste in food or clothes, inspired by your background, upbringing and even professional expertise.

THE BACKROUND

Collect information on the artist and the historical background. To analyze “Guernica” by Picasso, you need to know that Guernica is a town demolished by the Nazi, and you have to read up on the essential features of cubism. To interpret the image of kissing people covered by a piece of cloth in Magritt’s “The Lovers”, whatever you guess by looking at the painting falls flat once you know that the artist’s mother got drowned in the river, and when found, a piece of cloth was wrapped around her head. So, don’t rely on your skills and taste too much, there are things you need to KNOW before you start making assumptions.

The historical background of the paintings itself is important. Was the artist an innovator, did he start a new trend or movement, whose steps did he/she follow? What experiments was he involved with? How was the painting perceived by the contemporaries? Claude Monet started impressionism with the painting “Sunrise. Impressions”. Malevych started suprematism as a development on abstractionism, laying out the new artistic theory of the color, the form and the composition of the painting. The rough lines and raw colors in the fauvist paintings may be traced back to Van Gogh. Do you think there is something new suggested in the painting you are looking at, or is there anything at all distinguishing about it?

THE GENRE

This is easy. There is a limited number of genres in fine arts for you to categorize the painting: is it a portrait, landscape, seascape, cityscape, genre painting, battle piece, historical painting, religious or mythological painting, literary painting, self-portrait, animalistic painting, nude, still life, or an abstract painting?

THE STYLE / MOVEMENT

The fastest way to interpret a painting is to determine what movement it belongs to, or at least what movements and styles influenced the artist. The style influences the choice and treatment of the subject, the color, the perspective and the symbols.

Impressionists, for instance, experimented with unusual perspectives – bird’s eye or frog’s eye; their brushwork is visible and the colors are laid separately to mix in the eye of the viewer rather than on the palette. In impressionism the light is more important than the people it bounces off – quite different from romanticism.

In romanticism you have to be a poet, a revolutionary, a gypsy or a vagabond to make your way into the painting – they appreciated the bold spirit, the freedom and the people who were different.

Primitivist (naive) artists depicted objects in a solid monumental manner, as seen by a child who perceives the world as a whole, without analyzing it and breaking into unnecessary components.

In symbolism you do need to look for the hidden meaning, and it’s absolutely pointless in pop art, op art, art nouveau or hyperrealism. Each style and genre sets forth its requirements, so brush up on the movement the artist belongs to before you proceed.

THE COMPOSITION

Now go back to the subject and your first impressions about the painting. It’s time to analyze how the artist made you feel the way you felt using the artistic means it his/her disposal. The composition is the position and the balance of the objects and figures in the space, the interrelation of their size, coloring, shading etc. How exactly does all that impact your perception? Let’s dig in.

First consider the size of the painting. The more impressive the subject, the higher the emotions it appeals to, the bigger it is. Religious, mythological paintings are often huge – their massive energy makes you shiver. It is pretty understandable with figurative paintings like Rafael’s “The Sistine Madonna”, and more subtle with color field paintings of Mark Rothko. People are often overwhelmed with religious tremor in the presence of his artwork, and the size factors in. Also, the subject often calls for larger canvases – battle scenes need space and cannot be fitted into a smaller painting, while some subjects will get lost unless depicted in a smaller size.

Now take a look at the form of the canvas – you might take it for granted, but it does influence the subconscious feeling you get when enjoying a piece of art. Round and oval canvases produce the impression of serenity and completeness, they are often picked for feminine, soft portraits, like Ingre’s “Turkish bath”. Rectangular paintings – vertical or horizontal – are more complicated. While widely used in landscapes, the horizontal format may serve to diminish the figure portrayed, impose or convey some limits, as you can see in Vrubel’s “Demon”. Vertical format ensures monumentality and steadiness.

Now let’s proceed to analyzing the center of the composition. There is an optical center in the middle – you will notice that the center of the composition, the major element will never be placed there, otherwise the scene will look artificial. The center of the composition will always be the most striking element, and the rest will just serve to make it more expressive. The artist may use various means to achieve this effect – the color contrasts, light and shade effects, size of objects and distance between them. Secondary elements are depicted with less detail and vigor – they have to bring forward the center, not block it.

Notice the way your eyes travel the painting – intuitively you will start at the center and will proceed to the rest of the elements to refine the story.

The perspective. Do you feel the distance between you and the painting? Are you an observer or a participant? The way you feel is dictated by the artistic choice – it’s never a coincidence. An artist thoroughly selected the angle: you may look upwards, or downwards, or be at the same level with the objects depicted. If the horizon is at your eye level, the impression you will get is calm, stable. The high horizon will reveal more space, in landscapes it provides a majestic view. Paintings with the low horizon, so common with Dali, are monumental, highlighting the size of the objects and figures. The unusual views of Paris by Pissarro appeared as he painted from the hotel rooms.

THE LIGHT AND COLOR

The light and color in the painting will always be dictated by the artist’s intention, the concept of the painting. So, consider the sources of color, the time of the day, the emotional impact of light and shades.
Is the light neutral, sharp, mystical?
Are the contours rough or concealed?
What colors are prevailing – tonal or local, warm or cold?
What are the major color fields in the painting and their role in the entire composition? Is the light optically realistic or expressive as in Matisse’s painting?
Can you feel the rhythm in repeating some color or combination?
Is some color dominating?
What emotions does it produce?

THE BRUSHWORK

Depending on the art movement and personal peculiarities of the artist, the brushwork can range from delicate and almost invisible to rough and plastic.

CONCLUSION

Once again go through the images and the story of the painting. Was your first impression different from what you see now?

Take a 5-minute online test to explore your preferences in fine arts. In 5 minutes you will confidently say “I prefer impressionist cityscapes”, or “This room calls for a color field painting”, “I need to have an art nouveau nude in my bedroom” – and you will know what you are talking about!