Category Archives: creating inexpensive wall art

Which is which: Monet or Manet?

It’s easy to confuse them; they were French, they were painters, they lived at the same time, and they were friends. If like me, you have trouble remembering “which is which” here are Monet and Manet in a nutshell.

Édouard  Manet                                                                             
23 January 1832 – 30 April 1883
 Oscar-Claude  Monet
                                                      14 November 1840 – 5 December 1926 
one of the first 19th-century artists to paint modern life,
a pivotal figure in the transition from Realism to Impressionism 
 a founder of French Impressionist painting
friends with the Impressionists Degas,
Renoir, Sisley, Cezanne, and Pissaro
 organized with Renoir, Pissaro, and Sisley
the Societe anonyme des artistes peintres, scupteurs et graveurs, as
an alternative to the Salon de Paris,
exhibited with Morisot, Renoir, Degas, Pissaro, and Cezanne
his early works caused great controversy and served as rallying points for the young painters who would create Impressionism. Today, these are considered watershed paintings that mark the genesis of modern art. 
              the term “Impressionism” is derived from the title of his
painting Impression Sunrise
painted portraits, Paris street scenes, café and social scenes, war scenes
  painted garden scenes, land and seascapes,  portraits, best known for his paintings of water lilies
in April 1883, his left foot was amputated  because of
gangrene,  he died eleven days later in Paris at
the age of 51 and is buried in the Passy Cemetery in Paris.
                                                              died of lung cancer on 5 December 1926 at the age of 86 and is buried in  the Giverny church cemetery
manet photo
monet photo
manet luncheon in the grass
monet impression sunrise
manet at the cafe
monet women in a garden
manet berthe morisot 2
monet arrival of the normandy train
manet the barricade
monet the magpie
manet the railway
monet water lilies and japanese bridge
manet a bar at the folies-bergere
monet water lilies

the (perhaps) surprising work of a well-known artist

almond blossoms by van gogh

Almond Blossoms 1890

Can you identify this very well-known artist based on some of his lesser known work?     

a pair of boots by van gogh

                                                                A Pair of Shoes 1887

head of a skeleton with burning cigarette by van gogh

Skull of a Skeleton with Burning Cigarette 1885-86

rocks and ruins by van gogh                                                                Rocks and Ruins 1888

or from his photograph taken at the age of 13? 

vincent van gogh

Need more clues?

He was Dutch…born in the Netherlands to upper middle-class parents… 

he worked for a firm of art dealers as a young adult…

he had aspirations to become a pastor and for a short time worked as a missionary in Belgium… 

irises by van gogh

                                                                                                                          Irises 1889

still life with a basket of vegetables by van gogh

                                        Still Life with a Basket of Vegetables 1885

I am certainly no art expert and was not familiar with this artist’s work except for what he is best remembered for, so it was something of a surprise when I came across paintings that I would never have guessed were his. 

by van gogh

                     Le Moulin de Blute-Fin 1886

This artist spoke several languages, lived in Paris and southern France, was an associate of Gauguin, and was friends with Impressionist painter, Toulouse Lautrec. 

the old mill by van gogh

                                                                The Old Mill 1888

He may be remembered as  much for his tragic personal life as for his work as an artist. If I add that he drank too much absinthe, was an excessive smoker, may have suffered  from  syphilis,  had hallucinations and psychotic episodes, was  hospitalized  several times for mental illness, cut off his ear (or part of his ear), and shot himself at the age of 37 and died of his wound, you may recognize this artist.

Certainly, you will most likely recognize the painting he is most famous for.  

starry night by van gogh

                                                         The  Starry Night 1889

portrait of van gogh by Lautrec

           Portrait of Vincent van Gogh by Toulouse Lautrec. 1887

starry night over the Rhone by van gogh

                                            Starry Night Over the Rhone 1888

For more information about the work and life of Vincent van Gogh click here.

wall art ideas for MUSIC LOVERS

If you are a music lover consider these options:

beethoven 2

1) hang musical instruments on the wall, an acoustic or electric guitar, mandolin, banjo, fiddle, tambourine, saxophone, bugle, hand drums, maracas, (check the internet for possible safety concerns in hanging instruments or for wall-mounted stands)


2) frame album covers of favorite music,

3) a small bust of a favorite composer (they don’t have to be made of marble, or large, or expensive: I have a small inexpensive resin bust of Beethoven), place on wall shelf or place near wall art

4) mat and frame posters of concerts, performers, composers, or musicians,

beethoven manuscript5) mat and frame
photos or photocopies of musicians, performers, and/or concerts,

6) mat and frame photocopies (printed onto antique-looking paper) of original compositions, check on the internet, there are images of the original compositions of Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky…

7) mat and frame sheet music (available at music stores or check beethoven manuscript 3used-book stores and thrift stores for old music/piano books)

8) print an image directly onto sheet music, sizing the image so that it is surrounded/framed by the sheet music, then mat and frame

9) scatter musical notes and musical symbols on the wall, vary the size of the notes/symbols, cut-out from stiff paper, poster board, plywood, balsa wood, or foam board and paint/color or consider using washi tape to create the notesbeethoven script

10) display memorabilia, concert tickets, programs, autographs /signatures, concert photos, concert t-shirts, create a collage of memorabilia or display separately. beethoven stamp
(I just realized I have a scarf of the Beatles dating from about 1965 when I was a giggling 12-year old crushing on Paul McCartney. It’s packed away and rarely seen; framed, it would be a fun piece of wall art and a great conversation starter, especially among  my Old Lady peers.)

11) place wall art and related objects near a piano or other large musical instrument like a cello, base, or drum set


12) group wall art and related objects with a stereo or turn-table, vintage record player, gramophone, or phonograph, vintage transistor radio, antique radio,

13) create a
gallery or collage of images of favorite composers, instruments, vintage radios, gramophones, and record players, autographs of favorite musicians, performers, composers,

14) store, stack, or shelve CD’s, tapes, records, or 45’s nearby

Personalizing wall art

I have been posting for months about creating inexpensive wall art and the variety of sources available for designs—books, the internet, ephemera, artists and their work, specific sites, and specific books—when in fact the very best source for wall art, the most valuable resource…is you!

Don’t limit yourself to the traditional, the conventional, or what’s easy; think beyond “art” work and personal photographs and get creative. Wall art is not limited to images on paper or canvas. Don’t be afraid to be creative…to be “off the wall” on your walls. Whatever you do, it’s not set in stone. If you think of something, try it. If it doesn’t work take it down. No big deal. Try something else. Don’t get discouraged. Play with it, have fun. You may try lots of different ideas before you find one that really works, that you really love.

Wall art is more than décor; it is also a form of self-expression, and a means of communication. Interesting wall art can be a great conversation starter. It is also a way of surrounding yourself with what you love. The trick is to translate your personal interests into wall art for your home.  

Start by considering all the things you are interested in, the things that you love, the things that fascinate or thrill, the things that bring you joy and make you happy, the things you have passion for: all your hobbies, avocations, and interests. Write them down, keep a running list and keep adding to it as you think of more things. You probably have more interests and are a more interesting person than you ever realized.

Some possible areas of interest:

Cooking-Gardening-Nature-Animals & Insects-History-Literature-Music-Dance-Architecture-Film-Theater-T.V.-Technology-Sports-Events-Fashion-Travel-Cars-Trains-Planes-Ships-Lighthouses-Cities-Paris-London… you get the  idea…Think of interesting places you have been or places you would like to go. Things you have done or would like to do.

Next, make a mental inventory of all the things that you possess that are related to a specific interest: images, photos, books, ephemera, memorabilia, clothing, newspaper headlines, models, busts, dishes/cups/glasses, souvenirs, magazine covers, maps. 

Begin to create a nook, cranny, bookcase, table, corner, or wall of special interest. Place objects on shelves, bookcases, tabletops, dressers or other furniture, and team them with related wall art that reflect your special interest.

Next…wall art ideas for music lovers

William Henry Margetson: a touch of Downton Abbey

If you’re a Downton Abbey fan, you will probably enjoy William Henry Margetson’s work. I stumbled across him quite by accident; what caught my attention was images that I could have sworn were of Lady Mary…Edith…Lady Grantham.

a stitch in time by Margetson 










I could not find much information on the artist but ultimately it is the artist’s work that speaks for the artist more than any biographical information.

the sea shore by Margeston










A New Day by Margetson

This is the little bit I did find.  William Henry Margetson was an English painter and illustrator known for painting beautiful women wearing contemporary fashions. (This explains the whole Downton Abbey connection since he was painting during that era. It is also a tribute to the costume designers of Downton Abbey.)

Girl by a Lock by Margetson



Margetson painted in oils and watercolors and was married to another illustrator, Helen Hatton.






At the Cottage by Margetson

Margetson was born in 1860 and died in 1940 at the age of 79, long before the appearance of Lady Mary, Edith, and Lady Grantham.

Arthur Rackham: childhood’s dreams and nightmares














Peter Pan








Mr. and Mrs. Vinegar at HomeArthur Rackham (1867-1939) was the preeminent British book illustrator of the “Golden Age” of illustration.







illustration for a Midsummer Night's Dream

hansel and gretel arthur rackham





While many of us might recognize his illustrations from childhood fairy tales and storybooks he illustrated many other works including: Rip Van Winkle, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Tales from Shakespeare, Gulliver’s Travels, Siegfried and The Twilight of the Gods, A Christmas Carol, The Romance of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table, The Tempest, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, The Vicar of Wakefield, and Peer Gynt.

illustration from Das Rheingold

arthur rackham







Reproductions of his work may be found in fine art prints, posters, and book re-prints.


Rhein maidens warn Siegfried











For more information about Arthur Rackham and to view more of his work click here.

Creating inexpensive wall art: ephemera in a nut shell

For several weeks I’ve been writing and posting about using ephemera as wall art; if you’ve skipped the previous posts because they were too lengthy here is the information in a nutshell.

Ephemera: items of collectible memorabilia, typically written or printed ones, that were originally expected to have only short-term usefulness or popularity.

small wall art 015

Postcards-Vintage Postcards


Greeting cards-Vintage greeting cards

menu 2
 Menus and vintage menus

various 2 006Gift wrap-Gift bags-Gift boxes

various 2 002


paper doll 5

Paper dolls-vintage paper dolls

Other items that can be considered ephemera: trade cards, bookmarks, catalogues, letters, pamphlets, brochures, tickets, product labels, product ads, theater programs…

girl 3

Look for vintage postcards, greeting cards, menus, and paper dolls at yard sales, estate sales, used book stores, and thrift stores. Reproductions of vintage designs are also available, check in book stores and gift shops.

girl 2

Amazon has an amazing collection of paper dolls including designs for children and adults.

Go to Google images for some amazing online images including vintage postcards, greeting cards, menus, and paper dolls. Or search images for “ephemera” for some interesting options.

girl 1

The three little ladies above are from a birthday card my Grandmother Dot sent me nearly 50 years ago. Loved them then…love them now and they’re a cheerful reminder of a wonderful and well-loved lady. 

In a very small way, using ephemera as wall art is an exercise in recycling and re-purposing, using designs and items that would otherwise end up in the trash.