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Guest Column: For the Love of Art: Explore, Engage, Collect

Author: Jan Schultz
October, 2016 Issue

Open Studio events, such as Sonoma County Art Trails, offer an unequalled opportunity.

Creating a personal art collection is a gradual, joyful and memorable journey. Few ever say, “I’m going to grow up to be an art collector!” So why and how does one start, build and amass a personal art collection?

Visual arts are present in our lives from the time we’re born. Colors, shapes, designs and patterns are everywhere, be they manmade or found in nature. Artists adroitly capture, interpret, narrate and express inspirations, struggles, history, beauty, moments in time, ideas, hopes, fears, beliefs, feelings and thoughts through visual arts. Our eyes are constantly dazzled, delighted, enticed and filled with art. Our brains, heart and emotions subconsciously desire and thrive on the spirit and inspiration art quietly yet profoundly brings to us. We’re surrounded by many mediums of visual arts: ceramics, digital art, drawing, fiber arts, glass, jewelry, mixed media, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, woodworking and woodturning. Daily we experience numerous art forms.

Become a collector

Acquiring a personal art collection is a natural progression as we establish and refine our distinct space and environment. This progression begins with childhood drawings and expands from there to include posters, photographs, magazine clippings, computer and smartphone wallpapers, art reproductions and, ultimately, original art. We grow up living with and using art forms in our everyday lives, subconsciously broadcasting our individualized artistic preferences. Our clothing emanates a distinct artistic style; original art in our home creates a comforting and enriched environment.

Art nourishes our heart, mind, feelings and emotions. No wonder so many people start and build a personal art collection. It typically begins very innocently, when they buy their first piece of original art simply because they like it. Maybe it was a brush and palette knife landscape of a pond or sculpture that symbolically marked an event of personal significance. Then another piece of art catches their attention and, before long, a collection has begun.

Trust your instincts

It’s not important whether or not the art you like is “in vogue.” If you like it, it’s right for you. When a piece of art beckons to you, don’t walk away from it. Original art is one-of-a-kind. The artist can’t make another one just like it, so figure out how to buy it right then and there. Otherwise it can haunt you and you may end up disappointed if someone else acquires it first. You will always find a place in your home for a piece of art you love.

Your instinctive response when you see a piece of art tells you a lot. Recognize your spontaneous reaction and how that art epitomizes the “wow factor” for you. Defining what personally excites you is like asking what love feels like. You’ll know and feel the “wow” when you see the right art for you. It may touch your emotions or bring back memories of a time, place, person or event. Perhaps the subject matter warms your heart, brightens your day or makes you smile. Whatever it is, acknowledge the spark, reaction and feeling the art stirs in you, and bask in it.

Keep discovering

Seeking out and discovering original art enriches our lives and nurtures our spirit, energy and emotions. Art shows and galleries offer an array of art, some focusing on specific mediums such as paintings, photography or sculpture. Others specialize in a type of art, for instance modern art, early California art or local art; some exhibit an eclectic array. Become familiar with local galleries as exhibits change throughout the year. When traveling, galleries and shows in different cites may provide exhibits unique to the location.

Open Studio events, such as Sonoma County Art Trails, offer an unequalled opportunity to discover original art directly from the artist in his/her studio. It’s truly a one-of-a-kind experience. Explore Sonoma County’s pastoral idyllic back roads; engage directly with the artists to learn about them and their art; and collect fantastic original art enhancing your personal collection. It only takes one piece of art that radiates the “wow factor” for your Art Trails adventure to provide a lifetime memory.

Jan Schultz is a sculptor who uses vintage and repurposed metal in her welded sculptures. Retired from the corporate world, she’s a full-time artist, active in the Sonoma County arts community, and one of 173 artists participating in Sonoma County Art Trails. Learn more at

Sonoma County Art Trails ( takes place October 8, 9, 15 and 16. For this event, 173 juried artists will open their personal art studios to the public. Complimentary full color Art Trails Collector’s Guide with maps are available at galleries, cafes and shops all over Sonoma County or call (707) 829-4797.


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