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Dear Readers, this column is just for you. This is where I answer one of your interior design questions. Just send me an email with your question and I’ll reply right here. This week’s question:

I’ve always had a mild interest in art but have never bought anything more than a poster. I read your article a while ago about Napa Valley Open Studios where you suggested we visit Jessel Gallery where each artist has their work on display. I went and now my interest is soaring. I want to start collecting as a hobby. There were so many things that I liked. But now I am confused and don’t know where or how to start. You explained how you choose art for your corporate clients. You said it was different than choosing for your residential clients. Can you give me some tips on starting my own art collection? It would be for my home.

After a visit to Jessel Gallery, who wouldn’t have such an exciting reaction? As you said, the gallery is currently displaying a piece of art from every artist participating in Open Studios. This means several categories are represe nted from watercolors, pastels, oils, acrylics, pen and ink drawings, to sculptures in metal, wood, and clay. There are also encaustics, monotypes, printmaking, photography, collage and mixed media. The array is deepened with ceramics, textiles, glass, and even jewelry.

I mention all of these media because an art collection can be filled with a variety of works. The more variation, the more interesting and dimensional.

Collectors collect for different reasons. They may have purchased their first piece with the intention of becoming a collector, or perhaps their collection evolved over time unconsciously. Maybe even randomly.

In your case, it sounds like you want to actively pursue your new hobby. Were there pieces at Jessel Gallery that you were drawn to and revisited during your tour? Those would be good starting points. Were they all pen and ink drawings? Were they all portraits? Landscapes or still lifes? Or, were they the same subject matter but expressed in different media? I am drawn to clear colors. I like joyful images that aren’t specifically realistic. So, I first head to watercolors, pastels and glass.

What catches your eye? What can you not stop thinking about? Stay on that track. Here are a few more tips:

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— Attend Open Studios to hear artists explain how and why they create what they do. This will bring more meaning to their pieces and will allow you to resonate with them in your own way.

— Buy at least one piece that makes you feel nostalgic.

— Buy something slightly outside your comfort zone; something that makes you feel a little giddy.

— Buy a piece from an artist about your age. It will be interesting to see how his or her art changes as you both go through world events and stages of life at the same time.

— Make the pieces of a collection speak to each other and relate in some way — through the artist, genre, medium, color, image, country or century.

Do not choose art merely to fill an empty space and do not reject a piece simply because it doesn’t match your color scheme. It doesn’t have to. Art stands on its own merit. Whether you find a piece by design or by accident, if it speaks to you, listen to what it says and notice how it makes you feel. These senses will tell you if it should become a part of your personal art collection — and your personal story.

Have a question? Send to plcinteriors@sbcglobal.net with “NVR Question” in the subject line.

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Patti L. Cowger is an award-winning Napa-based interior designer and owner of PLC Interiors. For more information about her design services, visit her website at plcinteriors.comcall (707) 322-6522; or email plcinteriors@sbcglobal.net.

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