1. Do Some Field Research
Give yourself time to browse, advises Albiani. “Visit galleries that carry a range of both prices and pieces to get a feel for what you’re attracted to.” Knowing what you like and how much you’re willing to spend will make it easier to build a cohesive collection.
2. Gauge Your Style
Pre-1900s seascapes traditionally feature stormy scenes with deep midnight hues. “Life, especially out at sea, was more of a struggle back then. The darker palettes seem to reflect that.” Conversely, midcentury pieces tend to feature brighter colors and smoother seas.
3. Cast a Wide Net
Flea markets and side-of-the-road antiques shops can be troves of unexpected gems. “Ron, Mate Gallery’s co-owner, and I stopped at a junk-house barn in rural Connecticut once, and buried in the back was a large, signed Montauk seascape from 1958. You never know where you’ll find something.”
4. Make a Deal
“We always encourage people to haggle and try to bring the price down.” Reaching out to artists directly may also be helpful in scoring a deal, he says. Generally, larger works tend to come with a bigger price tag, and signed paintings sell for more than unsigned pieces.
5. Vary Your Dimensions
If your first piece was a 5″ by 7″, find a 16″ by 20″. “Having a range of sizes gives a collection depth, especially for creating a great gallery wall.”