Expert Advice: How to Choose, Buy and Decorate with Artwork to Spice Up Your Home

Artwork is often underrated and even forgotten about when it comes to home decor, but it can go a long way to liven up interiors! We spoke with local artist Mishell Leong to ask for her top tips on buying, curating and decorating with art. If you’re looking to spice things up and fill those blank walls, read ahead for Mishell Leong’s expert advice.

Your journey to art was a tad unconventional. Can you tell us a little bit about how you discovered your love for painting?

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My journey with art has not been conventional, in that I never went to a formal art school. In fact, my life took a very different journey with an initial career in accountancy. After 15 years, destiny called and I took the plunge into pursuing my lifelong dream of doing something more creative. I was fascinated by colour as a child and was always running around with a paintbrush or a pencil. Colour just gives me so much joy! The last 7 years have been a dream come true; I have had the privilege of exhibiting my work through my solo exhibitions here in Singapore along with group shows locally and internationally.

You love decorating with art, especially bold and vibrant pieces. How do you suggest picking art to suit one’s home?

The beauty of art is that it’s so subjective and speaks to people in different ways. I always recommend that my clients select pieces of art that speak to them personally. My works are created to evoke emotion; with my use of bold and vibrant colours and hidden messages, I seek to uplift collectors and leave them feeling inspired. That’s what you should look for in the artworks you choose.

You’ve talked in the past about the importance of framing. How do you choose the perfect frame for each artwork?

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Art and framing go hand in hand and you can’t have one without the other. A complimentary frame brings out the true colour and impression of the artwork, adding character and a personal touch. You can make a more contemporary artwork blend with a more rustic interior and vice versa depending on the framing you pick. Framing is not only the fundamental support for a painting, but it also protects it from the elements as well as being a vital bridge between the artwork and the interiors.

If you have a very varied collection on hand and want to aim for some uniformity and a sense of cohesiveness, framing is also a great way to tie the clashing works together and create synergy.

For those homeowners who haven’t started furnishing their homes yet, do you suggest picking the furniture or the artworks first?

Art is usually the finishing touch in a room—or the pièce de résistance as I like to call it. It’s the final element that makes the space yours, adding ambience, character and a personal touch to the home. Although, having said that, I do have clients who have designed a room around a particular artwork, drawing inspiration from the colours and feel of the work. So artwork can be the final touch but it can also be the inspiration.

Artwork can be somewhat expensive, especially for young homeowners. Do you have any tips for finding affordable original art in Singapore?

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The beauty of art is that there is always something for everyone, as the price of art varies widely depending on size, style, artist and more. A great way to buy art from a more established artist whose work you love is to buy a lithograph or giclee print if the original works are beyond your price point.

This was my very inspiration and intention when I created the limited edition giclee prints of my latest body of work, ‘A Garden From Within.’ I wanted to be able to open this joyous, uplifting body of work up to a larger number of collectors at a more accessible price point, allowing them to buy multiples for a home gallery as well.

Last but not least, do you have any favourite local artists? What are your favourite artworks by them?

I have always been inspired by Singapore’s pioneer artists who have become the local masters of today. Their contribution to Singapore’s art community has been pivotal to the expansive and diverse art scene we have now. More recently I have been inspired by the work of Yip Yew Chong and his recent exhibition held at the Sofitel. His work brings a sense of nostalgia to me. Having grown up in Malaysia as well, I can really identify with his inspiration.

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Follow Mishell Leong on Instagram (@mishellleongart) to see more of her art.

Opening image courtesy of Bowerman Interior Planner.