By Libbie Summers
Assisted by Candace Brower
My rule for an engaging art wall is simple –forget all rules.
I find that as we collect art and other curiosities, they somehow, even miraculously, become “like” in some way. This makes for easy grouping.
The key to hanging such a collection is the ability to move the works around without putting hundreds of holes in your wall.
Like all good recipes, good prep is everything. The same can be said with an art wall. Here are a few of my prep tips.
Here’s What You Will Need:
Craft Paper or some other sort of large roll paper to accommodate large sized pieces.
Ladder/step ladder depending on the height of your walls
Using your marker, draw a rough/crude sketch of the artwork onto the paper for reference. I also like to include the artist name on the front. Using the perimeter line you drew, cut out the shape. Set aside and continue until all your artwork has been copied onto paper.
Find the center of your wall and place a piece of tape there. Working either side of the center, start taping your art onto the wall where you think you may love it. On this installation, I put two pieces from the same artist on either side of my center tape as a big bang focal point. Don’t worry about keeping your paper level.
Keep adding your “art paper” cut outs and move them around until you find a place pleasing to the eye. You can also group like things at this point. Like frames, portraits, whatever. Again, I find it really isn’t necessary because there is typically a “likeness” in what you have collected. Also, if weight allows, I’ll hold up the actual artwork in various places before I add the paper.
Once you have the majority or all of your pieces taped to the wall, it’s time to start attaching them.
Using a tape measure, measure from the hanging point on the back of the actual art piece to the top edge. Then, find the center of the top of the coordinating paper piece. Mark this point on the paper. Measure hanging distance down from the center top on the paper and make a mark. This is where you will add a nail, anchor and screw or just screw depending on the weight of your piece. Screw right into the spot on the paper, that’s what’s so perfect about this. No pencil marks on the wall! Once you have added your anchor and screw pull the paper away and hang your artwork.
At this point, I like to add any “curiosities” that I have collected and are special to me, like the tassels I picked up in Peru layered with my own Sweet and Vicious tassels. To hang them, I twisted a couple of brass cup rings into the wall. I also added a couple of plates and will eventually find the perfect spot for my Mitchell Bat Company custom baseball bat.
I love this wall. Every piece of art represented is very special to my husband and I…because of the talented and very special people who created it.
1. Custom Sweet and Vicious Torso by Matt Hebermehl. Why? Because I love Matt Hebermehl and it just seemed right.
2. The first painting we ever bought from South African artist and friend, Chad Chamier.
3. The best Christmas gift my husband says he ever received. Pet portrait by Matt Johnson.
4. My husband loves Red Velvet Cake and we both love the work of artist/photographer and friend, Cedric Smith, so this was a no brainer commissioned piece.
5. A birthday gift from one of my favorite director/photographers, Ben Fink.
6. An antique gold plate used in my first cookbook, The Whole Hog Cookbook.
7. I love this painting done with fingers from my son when he was 4.
8. In 1990 I travelled a good part of the summer with Guatemalan architect and artist, Blanca Nino Norton. This colored pencil drawing she did while we were on Santorini was a gift from her at the end of our trip. When I look at Blanca’s drawing, I can’t help but think about all the fun we had and trouble we got into that Summer in the Med.
9. We love the brightly colored work by German artist, Peter Keil.
10. I purchased this painting on fabric from an artist on the beach in Antigua on my first trip there in 1996…I never got his name.
11. Amos Paul Kennedy is a wonderful letterpress artist and such a funny endearing man. I love his work.
12. I’m lucky enough to own a few works by Katherine Sandoz. I’m even luckier to call her a friend. This one was a from a piece we did on Salted and Styled. She knew I loved it and gave it to my husband and I this year for Christmas.
13. All I said was make it colorful. So artist Alexis Javier Perez did. It’s a bonus that there is clearly and “L” in the painting. 🙂
14. The work of artist Christina Edwards is peaceful to me…like her when you meet her. There is a sense of calm. One of my favorites.
15. I hate that you can’t see this photograph very well in this shot, but scroll up and you can. From my favorite photographer, Chia Chong. When I first met her I told her how much I loved this shot and how honored I would be to have it. TWO years later she surprised me with it –wrapped modestly in brown paper and tied with twine. Kiddingly she told me I had finally earned it. I think she may have meant it. It’s one of my most prized possessions.
16. This funny owl plate was picked up in one of my favorite Southern shops (Firefly) owned by one of my favorite creative Southern ladies, Nan Myers.
17. At the release party for my first book, super cool artist James “DrZ” Zdaniewski surprised me with this piece. I’ll always think of that special night and James when I look at this.
18. See #11.
19. A breathing work of art.
Watch how the art wall came alive!