Why Buy Art?

By Stede Barber in Art Business Advice > Motivation

My brother-in-law, who is a pilot, flew my sister and me up to Maine yesterday. We have a family love for a small island across from Camden where we have many wonderful childhood memories.

Life on the island is pure poetry: sun-warmed ferns, smelling of sweet balsam, released their scent into the salty ocean air. Deer bounded across the road; a pair of ospreys circled above, and ripe raspberries and blueberries were all around. . . just walking along the dirt road by the shore erased every unsettling thought from my head.

I have drawn and painted on this island for years, yet my attention was on another artist for this trip. My sister and her husband had seen his work in a Bar Harbor gallery awhile back, bought a small piece, and then perused his website until they found the perfect piece for a treasured spot above their fireplace.

It was fascinating to be with them as they went through the entire process of searching, choosing, and purchasing art for their new home.

Too often I see people lose their courage, even when it comes to just looking at art. Galleries are partly to blame, as they can be intimidating, yet people who will spend thousands on computers, sports gear, and kitchen gadgets have no confidence when it comes to choosing and buying a piece of art.

Ironically, the kitchen goodies, sporting goods, and computers all wear out and are forgotten or replaced. A painting chosen from the heart can be a lifetime investment—or even longer.

And consider this: there are medical studies which show that being in the same room with a dog lowers blood pressure and has other positive health benefits. I would love to know if that same thing happens when people are in the presence of a piece of art that they love.

All I know is what I’ve seen. . . people’s faces and eyes light up, their bodies relax, and they stop being in a hurry. Hands reach out to touch. They are transported into another world, one that they cherish and enjoy.

From that alone, we can tell that images are powerful, and worthwhile—they bring valuable feelings to the surface in the midst of an often chaotic life.

The artist makes choice after choice while looking at the chaos of any scene, filtering out these certain trees, that bit of water, those colors in the sky. All are carefully gathered together and distilled in a moment in time from thousands of fleeting bits of information.

This is a gift from the artist to those who see the finished piece. (And the act of creating it is often a gift to the artist as well.)

Taking time to walk through a gallery or art show can be rewarding all by itself, in a deeply restorative way. And if you do choose to buy fine art, it should be an extremely personal choice.

You do not have to decide which artist is good, bad, or great. All you have to do is listen inside yourself, to whoever brings you an experience of peace, happiness, inspiration. . . or whatever qualities you value most.

Looking at art, listening for what you love, and making a purchase is a rich experience. It’s so much more than determining whether or not the artwork matches the color of your livingroom furniture. It’s about how it makes you feel.

Funnily enough, you’ll find that the art you bring into your home often flows together perfectly. . . as long as it’s chosen from the heart.


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