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Write Your Story: How an Art Collection Speaks Volumes

The most interesting homes are those that are a unique collection of things that are loved and curated by the owner. Perhaps it’s with the help of a decorator, but ultimately, it’s the homeowner who chooses.

Some people are put off by the term “art collection” as if the term implies some level of expertise in the art world. Sure, a select few have the means to go for the big names in art. But you don’t have to spend a fortune to have an emotional connection to something created by hand. Curating a collection can be done on a budget. A successful outcome—and one that tells your particular story—depends upon choosing things that you love.

Flip through the pages of any high-end interior design magazine and you’ll more often than not find photos of rooms that sing with an exuberant melody of eclecticism—a naturalistic live-edge wood console table sporting an antique lamp or mantel clock, backed by an enormous unframed abstract painting in bold hues. Hand-painted silk pillows on a shocking pink sofa. A whimsical glass sculpture on a classic pedestal. The possibilities are endless, whatever your particular taste or style.

Artist is Bronia Ichel (left) and interior designer Leslie Thompson (right), owner of Malibu West Interiors.

Choose art that speaks to you. A piece of art can serve as a reminder of principles and ideals you cherish, or spark remembrances of people and places you hold dear. We often do this with family photos, chosen for the memories they evoke. They are judiciously set in places of prominence—a wall of photo frames flanking the stairs, a tabletop collection of small mementos, a large print from your wedding day framed in gold.

Buying or commissioning original art is one way to ensure that your home décor is uniquely yours and not a cookie-cutter version of the latest model home. A work of art chosen for how it makes you feel, and placed thoughtfully, always sparks a conversation. It affords an opportunity to share the story of who created it and why you chose it. I recently completed a commissioned oil portrait for someone who wanted to have a daily reminder of her husband’s loving presence after he is gone. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to serve others through my art in this way.

People who move to Southwest Florida sometimes find it difficult to transition home furnishings and artwork from their homes up north, incorporating them into a new tropical-flavored décor. The challenge often involves deciding between which pieces you treasure and which you can more easily part with. This is where an interior designer can help.

If you’re seeking inspiration and guidance about ways to successfully incorporate art into your home, check out the Art & Design Expo event offered this month by the Naples Art District on March 23-25. Located in North Naples above Pine Ridge Road and west of Airport Rd, the district is home to over 100 artists creating original works in painting, drawing, sculpture, glass, pottery, hand-crafted home furnishings, textiles, jewelry, and more. Open studio events are held throughout the season.

In the Art & Design Expo, interior design professionals, paired with the Naples Art District artists, will offer three days filled with engaging workshops that focus on demonstrating how design elements are inspired by original art. Last year’s workshops, for example, included topics like the modern aesthetic, creating serenity, the use of bold color, and incorporating texture in the interior. Be sure to check for further details on workshops that will be offered this year at the Art & Design Expo. The event is free, but preregistration is requested.

Patrice Schelkun is a contemporary realist painter working in oil and on glass. She and her husband split their time between Naples and Lake George, NY. View her work at or @schelkun_studio_arts on Instagram and Facebook.