Art and Soul

OK, I promise I won’t inundate you with redecorating posts, but I’m gonna sneak one more in because I have a question for you guys.

What kind of art do you like to have around you in your home? (I mean, if you DO happen to like having art around you.) And by ‘art’ I’m not necessarily talking high-brow stuff, I just mean any type of decorations on your walls or on your shelves that makes your house feel like a home to you. It can be paintings, prints, photographs, figurines… whatever! I’m curious because, as I mentioned before, I find myself drawn to a lot of the same kind of subject matter in all kinds of different forms and I wondered if you do too. In my case, I always lean toward figural art, especially paintings that feature people (mostly women) with very arresting or kind of mysterious faces. That’s not the only kind of subject matter that interests me, I also like landscapes, trees, birds, and things from the art deco period. I like photography, especially black and white pictures, and I have some wonderful scenes from New York that are framed in the downstairs powder room, but I particularly like paintings- oils, watercolors or sketches.

When we were in London this summer I met this fascinating older gentleman at the Portobello Road Market. He had a small booth just off of the main street with some beautiful watercolor paintings of what appeared to be interiors, or rooms. They were vintage, apparently from my favorite eras which are the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s. The gentleman told me that these sketches and watercolors were actual set designs from theatrical productions that had been mounted in London’s West End theatre district. He had worked as a stage manager for years, and every time they were preparing for a new play the designers would sketch and paint their ideas for the sets. Over the years he had amassed quite a collection, dating back to the early 1900’s, and he used to have a little gallery where he sold them exclusively. He had recently retired and he came to the Portobello Road Market every week to sell off the last of his inventory. I just LOVED everything he had, and I finally decided on two of them: one was a watercolor, not quite finished, of an outdoor scene with people in a park. It is beautifully worn with some crinkled edges and you can still see the pencil marks the artist made to center his drawing. Here it is:


And here it is in my den:


**The other painting I bought is a formal drawing room set, very stylized with a chaise lounge and a candelabra. The colors are gorgeous, rich corals and teals. I hung it in my bedroom:


I’ll try to get a photo of two more of my dark, mysterious women paintings and post them later– especially that one over the couch that Momma Lloyd keeps trying to get me to move! But I want to leave you with the latest addition to the house. I found it at an antique mall here in Nashville that I just love called Gaslamp Antiques. I spotted him– yes, it’s a HIM this time– hanging on a wall and he got my attention immediately. For one thing, he cuts quite a dashing figure. Lord Ward (that was the name on the tag) is standing under a draped curtain of sumptuous red velvet, and he is striking a formal pose with one hand in his pocket and the other one holding a walking stick. He is dressed to impress in a flowing coat or robe of some sort over a black suit with a string tie and a gold watch and fob. His hair (what there is of it– dude is kinda losing it on top) is white, as is his Van Dyke moustache and beard. Is he a Shakespearean actor? A judge? I had no idea, but something about his oh-so-serious pose just delighted me. He appears to be taking himself very seriously. Everything about the painting was so over the top theatrical that I wondered if it had maybe been part of the decoration for a movie or play– it almost looked like a caricature of an old family portrait. I reluctantly left Lord Ward at the mall, though I was sorely tempted to take him home– the booth he was in was having a MAJOR sale and he was marked down, which I feel sure would be quite an insult to his dignity .The next day I called Gaslamp and asked if they would talk with the owner and give me any information he had about the painting. They called back and said that the owner had bought it at an estate auction from a grand old home in Atlanta, and that though he didn’t know a lot about it, he did indeed think that it had been used in a theatrical production of some sort in the 30’s, but that it might also actually be a representation of a real person because on the back of the painting it said “Lord Ward, MP”– which means Member of Parliament in England– and it also said “drawing room”, which was probably where it was to be hung. Well, come on. ANOTHER picture that was used on a set, from the same era as my other two, AND the subject represented was from London? Obviously Lord Ward belonged in the Taff home.

I enlisted Madi to help me and we went the next day. I counted on her to talk me out of it if need be, because like me, she is very picky about faces– it’s all about the expression in the eyes. When she was little she chose every teddy bear and beanie baby by carefully examining every single face out of a shelf full of seemingly identical toys until she found the one she responded to. I told her we needed to sit for a minute and spend some time with Lord Ward and make sure that his pompous pose and serious face was something we wanted to live with in our house. Because there’s another issue with Lord Ward that I haven’t mentioned yet– he’s FREAKIN’ HUGE! This is a large painting, folks. Madi and I sat side by side on a bench in the booth and took a long hard look. “I like him,” Madi finally pronounced. “He looks like he’s trying so hard to be impressive, but he comes off looking kinda dorky. And if we hang him in the den, he will be looking directly across the room at that hoochie lady in the painting over the couch, so it’s kind of like we’re matchmaking!” It took a burly antique store worker to load him in the car, and it took Madi and I both to get him in the house, and it’s gonna take Russ to get him hung on the wall, but ladies and gentleman, may I present to you…

The Honorable Lord Ward!


(Isn’t he fabulous?! I told you he was huge!)

OK, your turn. What kind of decorative items do you respond to? What kind of art makes you risk a hernia carrying it up the front stairs? Do tell!

21 Responses

  1. jonny

    Yes, a lot of stuff centered around the same subject matter.

  2. tori

    Annnnnd… I’m officially afraid to ask!

  3. JnnfrSr

    The artwork we have on the walls and displayed are mostly pieces from different countries that we’ve picked up on our worldly travels. Which sounds glamorous, but is really a result of being married to a Marine (now retired). I also have pieces that my mother has made for me: cross-stitch samplers and quilted wall-hangings (one of which is my absolute favorite piece of artwork – it is a quilted wall-hanging made entirely of fabric from outfits she has made for my daughter).

  4. rachelbaker

    OK, I Love the Portobello Road Market pictures – especially the park scene, I think if I saw that I would have to find somewhere in my house to put it.

    I like visiting places, and even staying in places that have paintings of interesting looking people on the walls but don’t think I could live with them full-time, I might start talking to them or something. They would also ‘make me jump’ a lot I suspect. Saying that, if I had as many ‘little’ rooms as you seem to I imagine I could expand the themes a bit. In England however, space is at a premium, and having a ‘den’ is now something I aspire too!

    Our ‘art’ is mainly of places. Countryside and cities. They are nearly all places we have lived, or have at least been to, and we have bought because they capture something special of the place that makes us smile. My husband’s uncle is an artist and we have one of his watercolours of the Northumberland coastline and also an etching that he did of the Theatre Royal in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. For an engagement present, we perusaded Jon’s Dad to give us an old print of Newcastle that he picked up at an auction years ago and since then have bought different prints by the same artist at a variety of places. It took all our willpower not to steal from the holiday cottage we stayed in last year as they had one we didn’t have on the wall! As well as that we have my favourite Hong Kong paintings that we bought from a local artist during our time there, a painting of a mountain in the lake district, a sketch bought from a street artist in Prague etc. If anyone knows of any nice (not too expensive) paintings of the smokey mountains I would love something from there too.

    Also … photos. I need to see family photos.

    Actually in the course of writing this my dreams have expanded, forget a den, I want a LIBRARY and in that room, full of beautiful old dusty books I would put lots of paintings of people with interestng faces … and yes, I would talk to them, but who cares?

  5. Barbara M. Lloyd

    I love Lord Ward…and from what I can see, it would look as if his perfect spot for hanging would be on that very wall he is leaning up against. I just love him. He even looks a tad been Victorian to me.

    Gracious, I have been all over the place with paintings. For years, I had a very large print of two Victorian children that I loved. One of my daughters-in-law wanted it so I gave it to her…only to find it over her mother’s fireplace later on. So, I guess everybody liked it.

    At present I have a rather large print of two ladies, one old and one younger, sewing or quilting…which our daughter gave to us. I love it, especially because my daughter said tose ladies reminded her of us. I found that touching….never mind that I have never sewed more than a button or turned up pants in my life. On either side of this print are antique lace pieces framed to match the large print. Across the room is another print that had to be its mate for it is of gentlemen playing checkers. I have taken pretty victorian frames and exchanged relatives I don’t even know for soft pictures of flowers and hung them in the sunroom and hall.

    In my bedroom over the bed are two horse prints….then on another wall are two pastels done by a friend of mine years ago…one of the Wye oak before lightning struck it and the other of an old barn. Here I made a gallery of these two pastels, plus a painmting of Hitchcock Woods and our former home, and two black and white prints of our daughter jumping with her horses and another walking with the other horses along with the hounds on a fox hunt.

    I won’t go any further….but I could tell you about my famous works of art around my home. They are photos of Russ Taff with myself and other various ladies. I have had such fun with this, with Tori’s approval. Of course, when the ladies from the church come, I try to not let them come into my kitchen. (lol)

  6. auburn60

    I have a ‘dark,myterious woman’ painting but it’s been in a closet for about 12 years. She looks like she could be a Gibson Girl,all in white at her morning tea-table with her newspaper. She has her head slightly raised as if someone just called her name or she saw someone come in the door. It hung over our fireplace in Florida but never fit anywhere here.
    I have lots of family stuff hanging around. I have a doily my grandmother crocheted placed on velvet and framed and photos and tintypes (circa early 1900’s)of my grandparents families in front of their houses. I have pictures of each of my children at 6 weeks old. By each of the girls pictures I have their formal SR. pictures and a big blank spot by Matthew’s,waiting for his SR. pic.
    I have a Robert A. Tino picture that I LOVE and would love to have others. He paints the mountains and I love his work.I also have some photos I’ve taken framed and hung up–mostly places we’ve lived or wanted to remember.
    I’ve discovered of late that I love sconces and candleabra of all kinds,which may or may not have to do with our frequent power outages out here in the boonies.I like big Gothic ones,silver ornate ones with lots of ‘arms’, and I just got some ‘shabby chic’ ones that are kind of French Country. I thought I knew exactly where they were going to go and now that I have them I’m running around the house, checking out all the rooms they could fit in. If I paint the walls. Or move some furniture. So, my husband is THRILLED with this purchase.

  7. auburn60

    ‘mysterious woman’. I should proof-read.

  8. LindaB

    Well, my taste in art changes periodically. I love country and nature scenes and black and white photographs. For a while, I absolutely adored anything painted by Thomas Kincaid, but I’m kind of tired of it now. I bought two of them and they’re still beautiful——they’re Christmas scenes, and they’re in my living room. I’d like something different now, but can’t make up my mind what I’d like to look at for several years!

    I like floral prints too. And some botanical prints. And if I was independently wealthy, I’d buy a half dozen Terry Redlin paintings! I love the slightly darkened country scenes with maybe a lantern light shining in the night. I think he is a master at painting light! When I look at them I get that cozy warm feeling I remember from when I was a girl and visiting on my grandparent’s farm, or going to my uncle’s gas station/general store and walking on the old oiled wood floors and picking out a Nehi orange soda from the cooler. I guess I like art that evokes happy memories from times of my life.

    I like photographs too. Especially photos of my grandchildren all over the house!!! LOL They make me smile!

    My biggest problem in decorating is my chronic indecision! By the time I decide to go with a particular style, it’s all over! That’s why I could never paint my brick fireplace—-that’s a very serious decision that cannot be undone easily. I admire your decorating courage, Tori! And your brick painting project turned out beautifully!

    Isn’t it amusing how we all LOVE to talk about our opinions on everything and anything? We are funny folks sometimes!

  9. rockin robyn

    Wow! Though it is beautiful art, Tori, I’m afraid it would bring the walls down in my little home. Especially Sir Lord Ward.

    In my lil home I just have many pics of relatives and immediate family. My home has a music theme running through it mostly of sax “stuff” and music notes. I do have a “wall bringer downer” of a foe painting of a sax with black music notes and pink backing and the gold frame brings the beautiful brass-y colored sax into play. I have statues of the sax being played ranging anywhere from “the Clinton” cat Sox to an old black-man – you feel the warmth of him wailing on from the streets of New Orleans somewhere.

    I have a loft upstairs that is my office, den, “music room” and it sports my photography of musicians and singers I have been fortunate enough to meet over the many years of my concert going. That’s it. That’s me!

  10. LindaB

    Oh, and I like Lord Ward. At first I didn’t, but then he grew on me. He looks like he could be Colonel Sander’s older thinner brother! You did good. It is unique, like yourself.

  11. bettyrwoodward

    Tori. Don’t let Russ put the picture up until he is over the jet lag. I might be at a funny angle!
    Our art work in the lounge is landscape and water colour, very gentle.
    In the dinner room we have pictures of Newcastle upon Tyne which is my husband’s birthplace, and a beautiful cross stitch of some baby bluetits which was done by my daughter in law. There are family photos scattered everywhere!
    I have been trying to do some research on Lord Ward but can’t get anywhere do you have any more information?

  12. Barbara M. Lloyd

    At one time I had prints that were the patterns of ladies dresses…on models, from back in the 20’s or 30’s. They were on a bedroom wall.

    Now, in one bedroom I have edition collections of blue plates on every wall. I started the collections when we lived in Buffalo, NY, for a couple of years and would go over into Canada, where they were purchased. I had the collections in my dining room where we last lived. It is different…but I kinda like it. Each of the collections is a different shape, but all blue. On the bureau, I have an antique pitcher and bowl set, including other pieces, and this is in flow blue.

    The other bedroom has an assortment of our granddaughter’s art works on the walls (she’s 28 now) as well as assorted framed pictures of her at different times in her life. Over the bed is a pastel of our two older children. Overtop the pastel is an arched floral arrangement.

  13. Barbara M. Lloyd

    Gracious, I don’t mean to be “talking” so much so I apologize…..I just wanted to say that I believe there are two things important when decorating: (1) You decorate to please yourself (and of course your husband if he is at all interested) and (2) You put your personality into your decorating…and not some professional’s. Personally, I think a warm home that reflects the love and the fun that are in that home, is a beautiful home.

  14. LindaB

    Well said, Barbara M. Lloyd! I agree!


    i am loving the lampshades, girl! i am in search of several lampshades at this moment – they can change the whole atmosphere.
    Lord Ward is not really my cup of tea, but he is very distinguished!


    Hey – how is Betty?

  17. MostlySunny

    Lord Ward is very cool. I’m glad you have the space for him. He’s a great conversation piece.

    I love pictures of place I’ve been, especially if they’re photos by Ansel Adams – Yosemite, Grand Teton, etc., and pictures that remind me my family – past and present. Our family room has mostly family photos. My family on my Mom’s side is American Indian, so we have some great old photos of my great-great-great grandmother, woven baskets given to me through the years, a picture of the ladies sewing circle at the Indian Mission church on the tiny reservation, the old Mission Church. Years ago, my grandmother gave me my baby basket – the one she made for me when I was born; it is on the wall alongside my two sons baskets that other Indian ladies made when they were born.

    Upstairs I have a black and white photo of a fence post. I thought it was odd until my aunt told me that it was the actual stake post for my great grandparents’ l80 acres they homesteaded in the early 1900’s.

    Another photo is of a cliff – odd, again, until I asked my Dad. He took the photo during World War II when his ship was leaving the harbor in Saipan. When they were first approaching the harbor, many Japanese – whole families – were jumping to their deaths off this cliff, bodies floating in the water. My Dad said they were speechless as they watched this, but he never wanted to forget it – thus the picture he took when they left several weeks later.

    It goes on and on…I like to tell the stories of the pictures. They remind me of where I came from.

    YES – I’m with delivered – How’s Betty?

  18. MostlySunny

    Oh, and I have a few more photos to hang up soon. My husband and I just finished cleaning out his Mom’s house, getting ready to sell it (she’s now in an assisted living home near my brother-in-law), and we found some great photos. One – his Mom and her sisters as teenagers, standing with their older brother (21 years old) on the dirt road in front of their house. He’s in his army uniform – just getting home from the war after being a POW for 2 years in France…this was the first picture that was taken.

  19. jonny

    Sorry I haven’t responded earlier, Tori. Been having network issues with my phone the last two weeks. The place is full of things I’ve been into since childhood. My own, personal, little slice of Americana.


    Jonny – OK – remind me again why you have to use your phone? It is still unbelievable that you can do all that on your phone! My sight would be worse than it already is!

  21. LindaB

    Good to see you back, Jonny! I thought you’d gone off and eloped!

    Betty is progressing nicely! She is being moved out of ICU today and into her own room, and starting physical therapy. She’s still very weak and has a long road ahead of her, but PRAISE GOD, she’s coming right along!

    Dang it, Tori! Because of you, I keep walking around my house thinking what can I paint or rearrange to make this place look more tastefully decorated. But then I lie down and it goes away…..thank goodness!

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