The Artful Decision

This guest editorial by Maureen Watson appeared in the
September/October 2016 issue of Times of the Island magazine.


Like an off shore hurricane, the buzz and hype surrounding Art Basel Miami has been gaining force for months, as approximately 20 art fairs prepare to make landfall in early December. With over 500 exhibit sites Miami and Miami Beach become the epicenter of the international art world. Providing abundant opportunity to see modern masters and a vast array of contemporary art being created today. Would you buy? And if so, what and how could you choose? I have a method.


When I last went to Art Basel Miami, I played my ‘part-of-the-1%’ game – I asked myself, “If money were no object, what would I buy?” This freed me to be open to just looking at the art. Not thinking about the price or if it was a good investment, or if it was the right color or if I had a place for it, etc. only – what was I attracted to. With endless aisles of art, I had to add another level to the game to help me decide – if I were attracted to a piece, did I Like it or Love it? I walked and looked – like, like, … like …….... like … then I turned a corner and LOVE! Gobsmacked! in art-speak. This little painting among all the giants stood out, glowed and made me smile. I spent time with it and savored the feelings it evoked. I continued on looking at other pieces, but The Little Painting stayed with me and nothing else compared. At the end of the game, I went back to see The Little Painting and it made me happy all over again – I was in love. 

There is an important distinction between like and love when buying art. Buying something we like is often made with our mind. We like the image, the colors, the size, we have a space to fill. It is decoration for our home. Over time we may no longer notice it – it becomes like wallpaper.  While buying art we love is made by how it makes us feel – peaceful, happy, inspired, excited. This art adds to the harmony, balance and beauty of our home. It resonates with us and we don’t grow tired of it. As a client said to me about her collection, “I look at each one every morning. It’s how I start my day.”


What is it that makes this difference in artwork? While technique and image may attract our mind, it is the energy, spirit and feelings that some artists consciously imbue in their work that captures our heart. At their most authentic level, an artist delves so deeply into her personal world she brings forth this energy that comes from her soul. This is the connection; the attraction that hits most deeply. We think immediately of Rothko, of Kandinsky, but I have found artists working today across all mediums that create art that is consciously awake. Art that touches us, speaks to us and enlivens our world with beauty … art that we can love. 


So the answer to the self query, “should I buy it?” comes from advice an old crusty New York art dealer gave me when I asked what to say to help someone make the decision about a painting.

You tell them – ‘If you love it; buy it. Because if you love it now, you’ll love it forever’ and then shut up.” The first part was for them, the second for me. He was saying, “Let the painting speak to them. And let them fall in love.”

I bought The Little Painting.


Maureen Watson  Owner, Watson MacRaeGallery

Maureen Watson
Owner, Watson MacRaeGallery