Taste – is it Acquired, Overblown or just a Budget Buster?

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“Americana” 16×20 mixed media on canvas

I hate how things go in and out of fashion so quickly. Something is both “in” and chic or it’s out of style and passé. We scramble to be the first to show just how up-to-date we are — how with it!

Some stand in long lines streaming into Apple or Tiger Direct for the latest technology. We scour magazines and the internet soaking up current trends in clothing and home goods. We entertain our friends to show off our latest finds. We attend parties not just to socialize, but “to see what everybody’s got.”

Our Possessions possess us! We hunger for the newest and greatest. We save our hard earned cash in order to get what we want. Some of us even go into debt to compete with our friends and neighbors. But is it worth it?

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My pink ceramic pig smiles at me from the kitchen counter. I knew I wanted her the moment I saw her a decade ago, or was it two? How time flies! A black and white cow is not far away, along with a silly mooing cow pitcher I fell in love with “when cows were in.”

I have some collectable Lennox plates painted by Warren Kimball that adorn the wall over my cupboards. Outdated country charmers that depict barnyard animals in a flourish of fantasy and color; a polka dotted pony, and a square cow painted in a primitive flair. Not a cheap purchase, these.

Now geometrics are in and “country” has gone the way of Mediterranean, Country French, and Eclectic. These angular designs and contemporary shapes were “in” when I was a newlywed. Now they don’t appeal to me in the least. They look ancient and outdated from my vantage point.

Most of us can’t indulge the whims of designers and trend setters. We simply don’t have the money. What to do? I’ve discovered if you wait long enough, the trends are recycled like yesterday’s leftovers, but in a new package.

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If you can’t join them, you can at least add a few trendy pieces to liven things up: the latest colors may add a dash of pizzazz on a new pillow or throw, or on a tired uninteresting wall. Used furniture in the latest craze can spark an entry or conversation area. Consignment stores are great places to find these pieces at reduced prices.

Over time, your traditional style will fit right in and you’ll have saved bundles of money. It doesn’t pay to get bent out of shape trying to “keep up with the Jones’s” or anybody else. Are they really that important in your life? Do they offer to pay your credit card bill? If they don’t, you need a new role model. One who inspires you to be a better person rather than a stylish pauper.

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“Skudeneshavn Norway” oil on canvas (SOLD), prints and giclee’s available

Many wealthy people end up in poverty when they can no longer support their lavish lifestyles. Once their looks or their ability to work fails them, they are so set in their ways and too impoverished of spirit to change their mode of living.

Since “you can’t take it with you,” you may as well enjoy what you have and save your money for a comfortable retirement, your children’s education or a rainy day. Focus on the things that matter most like faith, family and country. Then if someone pulls the plug on your income you can weather the storms of adversity because you’ve learned how to manage your time and your money.

Vindication – What Goes Around Comes Around

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"The Pose" 16 x 20 acrylic on canvas

“The Pose” 16 x 20 acrylic on canvas

When we moved into our villa, everything was white; the tiled floors, the walls, the cupboards. We watched the trends go from white to color and from pastels to bright and bold. Through it all, we stoically held our own as we watched our friends slather on reds, golds, teals, and yellows.

Our dark bold furnishings complimented our world of white. I did admire the bright gleam of graceful white flowers and white woodwork against the latest trending colors, but we stood firm on grounds of economics and the fact that our walls were freshly painted when we moved in.

Trends have a way of reaching their peak. People tire of intensity and they long for peace and non-distraction. Enter the new white; not only exhibited on walls and cupboard doors, but in furnishings. The scuffed up well-worn white of yesteryear has been replaced by shiny smooth. We’re back in style! Vindication — oh, sweet reprieve!

"Home at Last" 26 x 20 acrylic on canvas
“Home at Last” 26 x 20 acrylic on canvas

The same holds true for clothes. If you leave them hanging in your closet long enough they will be back in style in a few short years. What goes around does come around.

Styles and trends also cycle in the art world; but if you go back far enough, you’ll find some of the same trends with a slight twist.

Today’s trendy art boasts a large following of buyers. It is hip, techie, and speaks to the young at heart. Ignore the trends if you must, or climb on board and take advantage of the upswing; in either case, as Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “Passion, though a bad regulator, is a powerful spring.”

But don’t let your heart or your eyes be fooled. Even though art is trending free and wild, the successful still follow the tried and true rules of color theory and composition. In fact, this is the very reason an artist is able to get away with so much. Knowing what colors to use, how, and when is the key to their popular draw. Rules of composition still apply, perhaps even more so as the subjects and images become more outlandish.

Andy Warhol once said that “rules are meant to be broken.” Knowing how to break them creatively and within the bounds of good taste is another matter. Once you know all the rules that govern art, then choosing which one you will break for a given effect is not stupid, it’s creative license.

"Café Costa Rica" 20 x 20 acrylic on canvas

“Café Costa Rica” 20 x 20 acrylic on canvas

My own journey has been one of trial and error. I’ve always been a non-conformist of sorts, and my internal creativity screams at sameness, blandness, duplication, or compliance with other people’s rules of beauty or completeness.

We’re told as artists that we should be “loose,” and that we should “fly.” But at the same time, our journey is bound by strict compliance to certain codes of behavior and performance. I don’t know about you, but I get confused. I’m hoping something “clicks” sooner than later!