Choosing a Painting

Finding a painting for your home is a bit like finding the person you want to marry. You’ll know when it’s right, it will feel right; and only you will have that feeling – at first anyway. When the picture is in its place, when it makes you smile as you open the door and when the compliments from friends and other visitors start arriving – that’s when you really know you’ve made the right choice.

Don’t be Afraid of Large

Do you walk into a room with a view and appreciate the large picture window that has been installed to enhance the sight? Well you can imitate that feeling of light and space by placing a painting on the wall, even if there’s no view and if no window is possible! Put simply, a blank wall needs a picture and your painting will act as a window, with the view or image of your choice. Consider any painting to be a window to another world or a favourite part of your world. Give it pride of place and make it a focal point of the room.


Picking up Colours that Nobody Notices

The painting you choose doesn’t need to ‘go’ with the colours in your room. Of course you don’t want it to clash horribly either but it’s surprising how just a tiny scrap of the right colour in a picture, say a dark red, matching a couple of buttons on your sofa, will set the whole room right.

Look at complimentary colours too. Orange versus turquoise; yellow versus violet; black versus white; blue versus orange: see the colour wheel for ideas. You might be happily surprised at how the opposite colours to your chosen décor suddenly bring the room to life!

Small House, Small Pictures

A tiny space is always in danger of looking cluttered but a painting can take the eye away from the cramped feeling, to such advantage that it breathes fresh air into the room. Avoid patterned wallpaper, of course, and keep ornaments to a minimum but choose a painting that has depth and sets your imagination going.

A diptych or triptych of little pictures will be effective in a small area and show that you’ve really planned your space. Do hang them level though. (I find it best to staple a strip of cardboard to the backs in advance of hanging.)

Bedrooms and Bathrooms

Ideal for hanging a sensuous or moody nude, I’m often aghast that people display saucy slogans and suggestive calendars in their bathroom but seem utterly priggish about artists’ life drawings. The practicalities of keeping a picture in the bathroom needn’t be off-putting. Easily avoid the pitfalls of condensation and talc dust: an acrylic painting on canvas or board will present no problems if you keep it dusted; same applies to an oil painting. If it’s a drawing on paper it will need a frame and glass to support it anyway, and all you need do is ask your framer to make it waterproof at the back. This can be done for a kitchen as well as for a bathroom.

Artists keep on drawing the nude human body for very good reason: it’s excellent practise. Life Drawing is to the artist as singing the scales is to the singer. Some of the drawings we do suggest certain moods and situations: romantic or lonely, beautiful, sensitive, active or lazy; evocative for dreaming in the bedroom even if not desirable for company of mixed ages and backgrounds in the lounge.


Hints It’s been said that every room needs a red picture and whenever I’ve seen red paintings in situ I have to agree. It brings warmth and happiness, and reflects a little bit of sunshine whatever the weather. A frame can ‘make or break’ a painting so unless it’s required for protection (with glass, for example) try hanging the canvas without a frame. D-rings and a cord will be fitted at the back for hanging; or use mirror plates. As an art lover you might want a dozen or so paintings in one room and if so, your décor will be of secondary importance or neutral at best. Paintings can be hung to enhance each other using some of the rules mentioned above, such as picking up the tiny bit of colour from one and expanding it in another.


When your painting is THE focal point and nothing else in the room matters too much, then start to enhance it with the right colours in accessories like cushions, a vase, a rug; but don’t overdo it. 

Copyright © Bern Ross 6 Westfield Court Stonehaven AB39 2JW