Bau-Xi Gallery's Pennylane Shen shares her secrets for the emerging art collector.

Art Buying Tips Bau-Xi web exclusive Western Living 1Picking the perfect art piece to fill in blank walls can often be a huge challenge when designing your space, and as Pennylane Shen of Bau-Xi Gallery suggests, it’s an extremely personal decision. To help you find that perfect match for you and your home, Pennylane has shared with us some guidelines to help you get started.1. Find What You LoveArtwork shopping can be one of the most overwhelming aspect of completing your home design, and with endless styles and genres, from photography to illustration, it can be hard to define your taste. “First and foremost, you have to like the artwork,” Pennylane advises, “Choose something that you’re aesthetically and emotionally attracted to.” She goes on to emphasize that even if you can’t put it into words, if a piece speaks to you, no explanation is required. To begin your hunt and explore your style, Pennylane recommends always keeping an eye out, and seeking out emerging artists through art crawls and visiting art studios. Even charity art auctions can be a great place to make a find: “There’s lots of pieces by emerging artists in their silent auction, and it’s a great way to start acquiring pieces as well as give to a foundation that needs it.”2. Think About SizeWhen thinking about how to fill those vast empty walls, size matters. While you might think you need a giant canvas to fill in the blanks, Pennylane actually suggests that any size can work, depending on how you place it. “I always like to go back to salon style work,”she describes of several smaller works pieced together on a wall, “I like to collect small work too because it’s very versatile. It can go in a bathroom, in a bedroom, or on a nightstand.” She goes on to suggest rearranging small pieces around your home to refresh a space. With that said, Pennylane is still a fan of large works. “It’s always really dramatic and interesting, and if the room works around that piece, it can be a real conversation starter.”3. Place Makes PerfectAccording to Pennylane, finding the perfect art is only half the battle; it takes careful consideration to place it correctly. When it comes to lighting, think about the types of light that enter the space. “Some pieces play really well to natural light (like a West coast landscape) and others play much better to synthetic light, like tungsten. So it can really change a piece.” With this in mind, Pennylane advises always testing a piece in the space before making the big purchase, a service that many commercial galleries offer. Considering colour? An easy way to ensure your wall colour isn’t blending in with your work is lifting it off your wall with framing methods, such as a panel. “It sits off the wall so it becomes sculptural in a way.” That said, Pennylane believes that a room design should start with the artwork and evolve from there: “Everything should be a conversation or complementing each other.” As an added tip, Pennylane mentions that monochromatic pieces like drawings can be quite romantic, and often fit well into a bedroom.4. Care for your FindAn artwork is not only about design, it’s an investment. “Other things in the room will get used and eventually be substituted out,” she elaborates, “You don’t wear and tear a piece of artwork; it maintains.” For collector-quality pieces, Pennylane tells us it’s absolutely essential to use archival materials, like archival grade foam core and glass. Also consider how you’re hanging it: using D-rings over wire can often save you from degrading your piece. “Often times hooks will cut into the wire over time or the wire could rust.” Not sure you’re ready for the task? Pennylane notes that galleries commonly will help you hang your work and help to preserve it as part of their services to ensure that your perfect art piece is truly timeless.The Bau-Xi Gallery it celebrating its 50th year and will be featuring an anniversary exhibition this May. Art Buying Tips Bau-Xi web exclusive Western Living 2