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How to create great art on the cheap

Let me start by saying I am a lover of art! I can appreciate most forms of art and please don't think I'm in any way devaluing artists, or varying art forms, by my suggestions that are to follow. Quite the contrary actually. I think if you can own great pieces of art you should definitely not be hiding (storing) it, but put it on display so you, and anyone else that may come in to view of your collection, can appreciate it. The sad reality is that not everyone can afford to fill all those empty walls with pricy art. However, there is a solution...

I'm also believer that art should reflect your personality and not just your bank balance. Art doesn't necessarily need to follow current trends of 'whats cool right now'. The definition of Art can be vast and be varying things to varying people. Technology is available to most and can be a great tool to facilitate your creations if used wisely.

I have tried to put together images of what I consider art in my own projects to clarify my suggestions. A few basic key steps when deciding on your own artwork...

1. Firm up your room. Decide exactly where your furniture will be and the colour and general feel you are trying to achieve for the space. Sometimes all you have might be the furniture (or even one piece of furniture) and you want the art to inspire the theme. That’s fine too, but you need to figure out where the art will sit within the space.

2. Make sure you don't have too much going on. You should try to keep your statement pieces to one or two within one space, as otherwise your senses have too much to take in and the room will feel cluttered instead of beautiful.

Left: A painting named 'The Cave'. This is definitely NOT what we want to achieve!

Right: The grouping of art on the dining room wall can be considered one large piece of art. The simpler piece on the adjoining wall carries the orange tones through to the kitchen. Overall the spaces preserve sufficient white walls to not make it look over crowded. Keep it Simple as you are not Stupid.

3. Draw on your life. No matter how you live your life, everyone has a story to tell. It maybe your family history, your kids, your travels, pick whatever makes you - you. Draw on those for inspiration. I used old family cutlery and heritage post cards from my country of origin (Sri Lanka) to bring my own history to my home.

4. Pre loved treasures. Our city has many stores that sell people's unwanted treasures at very cheap prices. You can generally find beautiful frames of varying sizes to start your own creation, which is all you need.

Above: Random picture frames I collected over time that, I'm sure I had a reason for buying but never actually got around to filling. Now they look like they were always meant to be!

5. Be creative. Not a lot of us have a God given talent to paint a canvas but you can be resourceful. Get your kids involved so 30 yrs down the track you have art with heart behind it!

Above: My son's Kindergarten art work from two years ago now proudly hangs above our dining table!

6. It doesn't need to be in 2D. If you have things around the house that have sentimental value but you don't know what to do with them, make it in to art.

Left: This is a set of serving cutlery that is very ornate and beautiful to look at but really — unless the queen was to suddenly visit me - I can't see myself pulling them out and using at a dinner party at my house! It looks fantastic on the wall though!

Right: I dug out these beautiful old window sashes that had been in storage forever and thought to add splashes of colour to it. All credit to my mom for the fantastic end result that now hangs in a building I designed in Sri Lanka.

7. Mix and match. You might have many paintings but not quite sufficient wall space for it. Group together pictures or colours that complement each other. Arrange your selections on the floor and when your happy with how it looks you can put it up on the wall.

8. Use your collections. If you are an avid collector, use it. Get some funky way to display it and show it off – because, that's art!

Above: We got some very cost effective frames courtesy of IKEA and framed some well loved Vinyl records on the wall of a media room (my husband's man cave).

9. Think outside the box! You would be surprised what might constitute art.…

Left: A study in a cramped apartment in the City is tucked in under the stair case leading to the loft bedroom above. This was where I worked from for a while and anyone that knows anyone that is in architecture knows, we have a LOT of STUFF. All necessary of course! Old crates were mounted on the wall to provide maximum storage. All the organised clutter gives an otherwise blank wall a lot more eclectic interest. Thats art — right?

Right: My current office (a bit more spacious) has many inspirational quotes and images blue tacked on to the wall. My landscape is constantly changing and I love it!

10. Don't be afraid of colour! I tend to keep my walls white but add colour where ever I can. In saying that - I did decide to replicate my favourite lamp on to an entire wall! I was really happy with the excitement it brought to an otherwise very ordinary guest bed room, On a side not - I later discovered the lamp didn't even work! Be Bold - it's only paint.

I truly hope this will help you decode your own artistic flair and create your own masterpiece. Even if you fail along the way its sure to be a very interesting journey. Who knows .… yours ideas might even surprise you. Enjoy!

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