Original oil paintings at the Osborn & Rugh Gallery.
A plein air painting by Rugh is on the table at right.
Following are factors to bear in mind when investing in art:
Generally, it is most advantageous to buy the best of an artist’s work. This does not necessarily mean the most expensive. Major works are most likely to gain in value but so are “quality” works in all sizes. While investing is not a guarantee; the art market is unique in its’ potential for large returns. Quality paintings will always have a market and improve in value over time. The challenge is in recognizing “quality” using an observant eye.
Quality will be evident in the paint surface and will reveal the facility of the artist’s touch. The hand should be a fluent servant of the mind of the artist. Good technique has its’ own beauty and reveals a delight in the medium. Look for brushstrokes. Are there thick impastos or disappearing edges? Is the artist’s hand invisible or readily apparent? Some artists hide their technique in service of the illusion. Others take pleasure in the piece as a work of art and let the medium remain visible. Physical works created with hand skills are becoming an increasingly rare, and thus, valued commodity.
Look for a keen sense of the artist’s eye. Talent comes from visual intelligence gained over a lifetime of observation. Does the work have depth or visual impact? Does the artist offer a fresh look at a subject or repeat the cliché? Artwork should be created with artistic integrity where the underlying motivation is aesthetic rather than commercial. We believe this insures that the work will have lasting value and appeal to future generations.
Look for a refined sense of design. How does the eye move around a composition? Notice focal points, rhythm through texture, the color scheme and mood or tonality. Study it from a distance and up close but judge it primarily from its’ viewing distance.
Artists should have a distinctive style that comes out of their own aesthetic explorations rather than a look that is derived from another artist. This unique style (which includes subject choice, size etc.) sets the artist apart and makes the work memorable.
Proper oil painting technique should be used and archival works should be created with solid construction and permanent pigments. The durability of oils is one reason they are often chosen as heirloom pieces.
The work should be appealing. Trust your instinct.
Watch the Antiques Road Show and you will see the importance of “provenance" and how a work’s story adds value. Get to know the artists or their work.
We do not believe that giclée prints have inherent or long-term investment value especially now that cheap reproduction technology is ubiquitous. Not to be confused with “fine art”.
Collections may have a theme: e.g. one could collect paintings of Cape wildflowers or different views of a certain place. Someone might collect street scenes or paintings done only in a specific town or anything with a favorite flower. The possibilities are endless. The collection then becomes an artistic expression itself where the eye of the collector is revealed through their selection. Quality collections take on added value.
Some collect purely through artistic choices and they might collect the non-typical subject. Others might choose art that adds to the ambience of their interior: informal still lifes of food or florals might set the stage for a kitchen, small detailed oils can be seen up close in hallways, formal classical works or portraits might enrich the elegance of a dining area, artistic colorful works might lighten up a living area and restful landscapes might set the tone for a bedroom.
Commission work directly from the artists of your favorite subjects to learn about the artistic process and share in the “story”.
Look for artists who are full-time and have consistent sales. They should continue to build and increase their audience year after year. The larger the audience, the greater will be the number of bidders in a future secondary market. Artists committed to the long haul and who consistently sell, increase their collector base. Quality work combined with a practical business engine should create consistent upward trajectory of market value.
Art is a hard asset that doesn’t disappear on a bad trading day. Investment aside, an immediate daily dividend comes from the pleasure of living with original handmade art.
People often say, “I wish I bought that painting 10 years ago when I could afford it”. Will they be saying the same thing 10 years from now?