5 types of wall-art media you've never considered

When you think of the term “original wall-art,” you may likely think of a painting – oil or acrylic most likely, perhaps even watercolor, and almost always on canvas or paper. However, there are a number of other types of media that can be hung up on your wall and be just as original as a more traditional painting. You may not even realize that you’ve been exposed to these media before; you might have just noticed that there was a special, unidentifiable ‘something’ in what was before you.

I Drew These Chairs Standing Up, Brent E.;  15"x22", lithography

I Drew These Chairs Standing Up, Brent E.; 15"x22", lithography

Consider these alternative media the next time you may be looking to fill wall space in your home:

1) Lithograph
In a lithograph, the artist draws onto limestone using litho crayons or pencils made of grease and wax. The image is then chemically treated to bond to the surface. Finally, the artist uses a rolling pin to cover the image with ink, lays paper over the stone, and passes it through a litho press.

2) Mixed media
Mixed media is a very general term, but refers to using a number of different media in one particular work. It can be a collage for example, with objects of various textures and depth used together in one work. But it could also be paint or ink overlaid on digital photographs.  It’s essentially more than one different type of media used on the same surface.

May, Sophia H.;  48"x60", string, cut-up socks, tree seeds, oil on canvas

May, Sophia H.; 48"x60", string, cut-up socks, tree seeds, oil on canvas

Shep, Eli S.;  26"x32", oil-based print with arcylic on mylar

Shep, Eli S.; 26"x32", oil-based print with arcylic on mylar

3) Stretched polyester film/Mylar
Mylar is the brand name for stretched polyester film.  Despite how durable it is, it gives artwork a transparent feel. Artists who draw, paint or print on it, achieve a certain dichotomy in their work using the translucency to show lightness or focus on a particular aspect. It can be used as another layer to an artwork, adding with a soft matte effect. 

4) Graphite or Charcoal
Graphite is essentially an artist-grade pencil – it is a more refined version of the No. 2 pencil most of us grew up with. It can come in pencil or powder form and has a metallic sheen. Charcoal can also come in powder or pencil form; it’s similar to graphite but is darker, has less range in color, and is a bit more complicated for an artist to apply. This slightly looser and more powdery medium is great for art on larger works of paper.  

Mountain with Small Scaffolding, Brooks S.;  36"x48", graphite, color pencil and ink

Mountain with Small Scaffolding, Brooks S.; 36"x48", graphite, color pencil and ink

Childhood Drawing, Chamisa K.

Childhood Drawing, Chamisa K.

5) Ink pen
Yes, even a sketch done with a simple ink pen can be matted, framed and hung up on your wall. Artists can create a noteworthy image with simple tools that we use everyday for a different purpose. Ink sketches have a certain simplicity that can grant a space some whimsy; smaller works are wonderful to put up in a series.


To see more works from artists in the CoCo Gallery Artist Network and to inquire about commissioning an artwork, please email us at info@cocogallery.net or fill out a form online.

To Frame or Not to Frame

Thoughts from our Founder: Vani Krishnamurthy

If you’ve ever owned an original work of art, you might have automatically assumed that it needed to be framed. After all, it’s an original, you’ve spent good money on it, and it’s going up on your wall. Framing it will give it a more professional look, and give it the attention that it deserves.

However, it isn’t always necessary to frame original works of art. In fact, we often
recommend that works on canvas remain unframed. Here’s why:

CoCo Artist Laura G.'s work covers every inch of the canvas.

CoCo Artist Laura G.'s work covers every inch of the canvas.

It’s all part of the painting
Artists will often finish the edges of the painting that wrap around the canvas because they consider it to be part of the painting. For some artists, the canvas wrap creates a softer edge that actually goes better with their painting than an abrupt inner finish of a frame. Other artists will sometimes even include an interesting detail, like their signature, on that edge, which can’t be seen with a frame either.

Some artists sign their work on the canvas edge.

Some artists sign their work on the canvas edge.

Feel the texture
Texture is an important part of many works of art, and putting these types of wall art behind glass can interfere with the artist’s creative intention. An artist you choose to work with might use thick layers of paint to create depth and reality to the image. Sometimes these layers of paint are even safe to touch carefully (something I love to do with my paintings at home). If the artist works with mixed media, the variety of textures generated by perhaps a collage of various items, is a large part of what makes that work of art what it is. Framing a work like this would essentially compromise it.

Artist Sophia H. used acrylic, paper mache, moss, oil on canvas in her work,  January . She also uses seeds, pine needles, string and other found materials.

Artist Sophia H. used acrylic, paper mache, moss, oil on canvas in her work, January. She also uses seeds, pine needles, string and other found materials.

Keep the focus
Frames can be beautiful. That sometimes means that they may take the viewer’s focus away from the work of art at hand. It’s actually quite difficult to find a frame that complements a painting perfectly. To make your display emphasize the painting most, it’s best to not have it compete with a frame for attention.

Be closer
It may sound strange, but I like to feel as close as possible to a painting that I love. Just the smell of the media allows me to visualize what the artist put into the work. A glass frame, however, creates a physically minimal and yet emotionally tangible separation between the viewer and the work of art. A painting provides the viewer with more than a visual reward; it can entice all of your senses if you let it.

Inspirations: Interview with CoCo Design Partner Jenny Madden

This week in our Inspirations interview series, CoCo Design Partner Jenny Madden tells us about her experience with interior design and how art is an important part of it. Her company, Jenny Madden Design, is a full service  interior design firm working with clients in the greater New York City area, offering client-oriented design assistance in both residential and commercial spaces.

CoCo: Tell us about your training and experience in design.
Jenny: I started out by studying architecture at Columbia University in New York City. It was a great foundation, and of course the city itself has plenty of design inspiration. I gained experience at both architecture and interiors firms and even spent several years at a general contracting company, which has given me unique expertise on the implementation side of design. My team brings a lot of valuable experience to our projects as well. Maggie is a fellow designer licensed in architecture in both NY and NJ and Greg is on top of the bookkeeping ensuring all of our product orders are placed with care.  

CoCo: What sort of work/projects do you take on?
Jenny: Jenny Madden Design primarily works on residential projects. Those projects range widely from a master bedroom update in Manhattan to a full home design for a new construction beach house. Although the project scope can vary, all projects start out the same way: with a conversation. I can’t design for a client until I get to know him/her.

CoCo: How important is art in your work?
Jenny: The right piece of artwork can transform a space from simply well-designed to absolutely stunning. One of the most rewarding parts of my role is seeing the way the many pieces in a room come together to create a cohesive space on installation day. Artwork plays an incredibly important part as it adds a personality to a room that other design factors like furniture pieces, space plans or color schemes alone cannot. A well-designed room will still feel unfinished until the artwork is hung, even in a small space like a bathroom.

CoCo: Tell us about an artist with whom you have collaborated in the past.
Jenny: I have a great collaborative relationship with James Chororos, a NYC-based photographer. I even have two of his pieces in my own home! He started out in architecture as well so we have a common perspective. His portfolio is amazing and I love the use of artistic photography in certain spaces. Each artistic medium has its place!

CoCo: Describe one of your favorite clients. What made it fun and productive to work with them?
Jenny: I love working with each one of my clients!  I enjoy the variety that comes with different personality types, project scopes and budgets – as they say “variety is the spice of life.” I’ll highlight one recent client with whom I grew especially close. The project was a complete house remodel for a family of five that spanned about 15 months. These clients were energetic, decisive and positive throughout the project, which made our meetings and site visits something to look forward to. They were also straightforward and transparent with both their budget and design style. 

From a design standpoint, they were willing to take risks that resulted in stunning and personalized spaces. It makes me so happy to see how much the family is enjoying their new house.

Brushstrokes: Interview with CoCo Artist Laura V.

This week we are featuring CoCo Artist, Laura V. Clients have described her uniquely layered oil paintings as: multidimensional, ethereal, etched, alive, and “What I see after 17 beers!” (our favorite comment). Take a look for yourself, and tell us what you see in Laura's work.

CoCo: How would you describe your artwork?   
Laura: My work is colorful and meditative. I create extremely abstract, oil paintings by layering colors using various techniques. Each painting’s meaning is subjective to the viewer’s personal lens, though the title of each work can be leading in terms of my own particular state of mind or perspective regarding the piece. I strive to create a painting that possesses visual and textural depth, as well as a depth of experience involving the Self. My hope is to introduce an opportunity to pause, reflect, and examine how perspective can shape meaning and experience.

Across the Room;  16"x20", oil

Across the Room; 16"x20", oil

Return;  24"x30", oil

Return; 24"x30", oil

CoCo: What inspired you to become an artist?  
Laura: I don’t remember a time when I did not identify as an artist. I have been creating drawings and paintings since I can remember. It is my purest form of communication and expression of self. Painting is a way to give physical form to the creative energies that I am aware of but don’t always have words for or ways of expressing otherwise.

CoCo: Describe one of your favorite collectors/clients. 
Laura: I have been so lucky to work with all types of clients, but one of my favorites was a recent client who commissioned a large painting for the new home she and her husband had just bought. It is their first home and they have been excitedly remodeling and bringing the dream of it to fruition. She is a passionate person who identifies strongly with what she wants and is able to articulate it beautifully. Her enthusiasm and ability to express herself by sharing her desires made creating a painting with and for her a great, collaborative experience.

Astral;  16"x20", oil

Astral; 16"x20", oil

CoCo: Who is your art for?  What type of person are you speaking to? 
Laura: It’s very interesting to see who responds to my work. My audience is quite varied. Aesthetically speaking, my work is probably for people who prefer a more minimalistic environment with a few statement pieces. An emotive burst of color in a concrete room.

CoCo: What is the most important part of the artistic/creative process for you?
Laura: The most important part of the creative process for me is to show up and do the work as consistently and regularly as possible. There is a lot of magic and beauty in the whole, extended artistic process, but if you don’t DO the work, then none of that can happen.

CoCo: What type of media do you use and why?   
Laura: I use oil paint. I love how luscious their texture is; painting with oils is a very sensual experience. I also love the intensity of color and the depth you can achieve with them. Add to that the endless learning involved with understanding how to use and manipulate the paint in different ways. It really is a science, and very stimulating to my bookish, intellectual side.

Within. Without;  36"x48", oil

Within. Without; 36"x48", oil

CoCo: What is your favorite piece and why?
Laura: Right now, my favorite piece is ‘Within. Without.’ It is a large painting where deep blues and turquoises hold court with a multi- dimensional dance of cadmium red, yellow and white. The colors are striking and soothing at the same time. It was extremely difficult to name because I felt as though it related to a very abstract essence of what it is to create something as a human. The ability to do so is inherent in all of us, yet our awareness of this ability alternates between something we identify as internal or external. ‘Within. Without’ is about recognizing both sides of this at once.



CoCo: What are you working on now?
Laura: Right now, I am working on a series of paintings combining pale blues and greens with deep browns and golden tones. The one here is called ‘Gravity’.
CoCo: What is your favorite thing about doing a commission? 
Laura: My favorite thing about doing a commission is helping someone’s inner vision take form. I love working with clients to unearth the true essence of their desired piece. I want to know what they hope to feel when they wake up in the morning and stare into the painting. What energy do they want it to possess? That way, I can create a painting for them that feels deeply personal and alive, as well as aesthetically in line with their vision.

Laura's large works (30"x40" to 36"x48") are priced at around $2000-4000. To see more of her work and to inquire about commissioning from Laura, please email us at info@cocogallery.net or fill out a form online.

How to collaborate with an artist successfully

5 tips from our Founder, Vani Krishnamurthy

Sonya E., Hammock Under the Trees;  36"x22", acrylic

Sonya E., Hammock Under the Trees; 36"x22", acrylic

Artists are special. I say this with the most sincerity you can possibly imagine.   

Think of an individual who has actually stopped to notice something about life or this world. She spends the entirety of every day working through that feeling and figuring out how to express it.  Not with words, which would allow for a sense of immediate gratification, especially in our social media world. Instead, she uses physical media that needs to be carefully prepared and applied for an eventual display. All this and she has no guarantee of viewers understanding the message. Clearly, this individual is not only creative, but is also meditative, diligent, romantic, and patient as well.  

Rebecca A., Painting III; 78"x60",  mixed media

Rebecca A., Painting III; 78"x60", mixed media

Having worked AS an artist and WITH artists my entire life, I have loved and hated them for the exact qualities that make them so unique. I have loved their creativity, but hated not being able to contain it. I have loved the patience they have in creating beautiful work, but hated not being able to rush them to a deadline.  

There isn’t one way to work with artists; they wouldn’t be so interesting as a group if so. However, there are a few cardinal rules to working with an artist successfully, which if followed, can most likely result in owning the most personal, meaningful, and also beautiful creation ever.

Here’s what I’ve learned over time:

1) Choose the right artist for you and your vision 
Peruse previous work and observe which images keep you interested. Ask yourself what it is that is making you go back to certain images – color, texture, or composition perhaps? Think about whether those aspects would be important in what you envision for your project.

Jessica B., False Start;  18"x24", oil on canvas

Jessica B., False Start; 18"x24", oil on canvas

2) Understand the artist’s unique process 
Ask the artist questions about how he creates his artwork. Every artist has different ways of deriving inspiration in the beginning, keeping himself on track in the middle, and figuring out what the finishing touches are at the end. Therein lies the story that you may want to tell yourself and others when referencing your finished piece of art. It is this story that also makes you feel connected to the artist and allows for a natural collaborative relationship with him. 

Mel D., Night Sky 2;  60"x52", oil on canvas

Mel D., Night Sky 2; 60"x52", oil on canvas

3) Set some key boundaries
When speaking with the artist, make sure to be as specific as possible about major, non-negotiable aspects of your project.  Size, subject, medium, and general color schemes are important to voice, if you have a very clear opinion on them. There may be other preferences you have, but remember to keep those at a minimum. You need to let the artist have room to create her best work. Too many boundaries and details might make you feel comfortable in the beginning, but it may not result in a work of art with the creative depth that it might have had otherwise. Instead, think about specifying any dislikes you have, so that the artist knows to avoid something that you are certain of not wanting.

Lauren M., Something Old, Something New;  36"x36", mixed media

Lauren M., Something Old, Something New; 36"x36", mixed media

4) Give the artist a grace period 
An artist produces his best work when he is feeling most inspired to create, which means he might miss his deadline if he is prioritizing the quality of the finished product. Be sure to accommodate a cushion for the artist to have extra time. A week or two late is better than wondering “what could have been” with regards to your work of art. 

5) Make an active decision to trust the artist
Once you’ve chosen your artist and gone over the non-negotiables, make an active decision to trust her. The most interesting aspect of working with an artist is to embrace a little bit of the unpredictability. The end product will never be exactly as you envisioned. It will actually be better if you allow yourself to be open to different possibilities. Just as you want your fingerprint in this work of art, the artist needs to have hers as well.

Inspirations: Interview with CoCo Design Partner Lisa Hershman

First in our Inspirations interview series, we introduce a CoCo Design Partner, Lisa Hershman of Abaca Interiors. A boutique design firm specializing in high end residential interiors, Abaca has completed four successful years in business. 

Lisa tells CoCo Gallery about what inspires her, and working with clients and artists. Her work has been featured in Domino.com, Style at Home Magazine, Redbook Magazine, and Apartment Therapy, among others. The CoCo team could not be happier to have her on board as a partner.

CoCo: What inspired you to become a designer?
Lisa: I was fortunate enough to be raised in a family that placed a high value on the arts and culture. From a young age, I’ve enjoyed spending my free time in museums and reading books about art and design. I grew up surrounded by art and artists – both my mother and grandmother are quite talented. My biggest influence, however, was my grandmother. At a time when very few women worked outside the home, my grandmother owned a successful interior design firm. Some of my happiest memories involve sorting through finish samples in the backseat of her Cadillac and visiting showrooms with her at the D and D as her “assistant” for the day.

The Abaca office.

The Abaca office.

CoCo: Tell us about your training and experience in design.
Lisa: I’ve been taking art classes since I was a young child. And while I have taken formal classes in interior design, I find that most of my work relies on basic artistic elements. Still, I feel like I am always “in training.”  I am avid reader; I usually have 2-3 design books on my nightstand at a time. And I am constantly observing the world around me – sketching things that catch my eye, noticing the way that people interact with their environments. It’s those everyday observations, and thinking about how they fit together with what’s come before, that excite me and influence my approach to interiors more than anything else. 

CoCo: What sorts of work/projects do you take on?
Lisa: High end residential interiors. In particular, I love working with young families. I develop close relationships with my clients. There’s no greater compliment than being asked to decorate a new home, new nursery or vacation home for past clients. It is both rewarding and humbling to grow alongside my clients and accompany them on their path through life.  

CoCo: How would you describe the style of your work?
Lisa: Bespoke modern – I made that one up! But I think it captures what I generally try to achieve with my clients: In some instances, modern design can read as cold and impersonal. My goal is to combine the clean lines and natural elements of modernism with the needs and lifestyles of my clients. I find that rigid adherence to a particular philosophy is less important than creating a beautiful and functional home that people long to return to at the end of the day. 

CoCo: Tell us about one of your favorite projects.
Lisa: I would have to say that my favorite project has been designing my own for my family. It doesn’t get more personal – or fun – than that! We moved into our current home four years ago and, while our tastes and needs have changed through the years, my home continues to soothe me, excite me, and surround me with warmth each time I walk through the door.

CoCo: How important is art in your work?
Lisa: Art is extremely important in my work. It gives a space depth and meaning. Art helps us remember who we are, where we’ve been, and what we aspire to accomplish. I’ve heard art described as the jewelry for a room, but I think of it more as its soul. I always try to make sure there’s room for art in a project budget, but it’s not something you can rush. I tell clients that sometimes you just have to be content with an empty wall, knowing that one day you will find that piece that speaks to you. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it has to feel “right.” It can be a long wait, but it’s worth it. 

A wall of art in Lisa's home.

A wall of art in Lisa's home.

CoCo: What do you think is the key to working successfully with an artist?
Lisa: I think the key to working successfully with an artist is to feel comfortable sharing your thoughts and hopes for a particular piece. Don’t be afraid to explain what drew you to that particular artist; what you are hoping they will capture with this piece; what you like about their work; and what parts of their work are not for you. At the same time, there has to be a respect for the artist’s intuition and process. There’s an inherent give and take; it’s a delicate balance. As a commissioner, you have to be comfortable with that. There’s also a healthy dose of “unknown,” but that’s what makes the process of commissioning a piece so exciting. 

Brushstrokes: Interview with CoCo Artist David P.

If you like to ski or mountain climb, then today's featured artist will be of special interest to you. CoCo artist David P. creates larger than life depictions of mountain ranges, while referencing Pop Art through overlaying dots in distinct and iconic colors. Take one look at David's work, and you'll want to experience these landscapes just as he does: the urge to breathe it all in before time crumbles it all away.

CoCo Artist David P. at his studio in Vancouver, Canada.

CoCo Artist David P. at his studio in Vancouver, Canada.

CoCo: What inspired you to paint mountains?
David: I have been climbing, skiing and mountain biking all of my life. I grew up in North Vancouver, a particularly unique suburb of Vancouver Canada where I now live and have my studio with a forest and river in my backyard. It is situated literally on the edge of the wilderness in the mountains, with the city across a narrow harbor. 

Favorite Commission: The Grand Teton, Early Winter Sunset, 2014;  oil on canvas, 40” X 100”

Favorite Commission: The Grand Teton, Early Winter Sunset, 2014; oil on canvas, 40” X 100”

CoCo: What are you trying to say through your work?
David: I’ve never wanted to stop exploring in the mountains and seeing what’s on the other side. Their isolation, beauty, and grandeur humble me — I am but a speck in time and place. Your life and your matters have little consequence when you’re in the mountains: The mountain shrugs and you fall off.

Picket Range, N. Washington;  oil on canvas, 34" X 48"

Picket Range, N. Washington; oil on canvas, 34" X 48"

CoCo: What do you hope for the viewers of your art to experience?
David: I hope people will experience our fleeting life in contrast to the slow rise and fall of the mountains. To do this, I closely study the morphology of rocks, the movement of glaciers, erosion. I contemporize the the landscape in order to ask the viewer to think of time on a geological scale.  

Some faves in the house.JPG
Current work in studio.JPG

CoCo: Can you lead us through an aspect of your artistic process?
David: In many ways, I treat my paintings almost like scientific inquiries. Gridding, mapping — contemporary filters for how we look at landscape now — with Google Maps and satellites through technology. And that’s partly what I’m getting at with the use of these very bold colors that are almost from the digital world.

Mt Robson, West Face;  oil on canvas, 54" X 75"

Mt Robson, West Face; oil on canvas, 54" X 75"

CoCo: Tell us about the dots.
David: I started adding dots about four years ago, after having used grid-like patterns. It seemed like a natural evolution for me. I was looking for a way to add intense color and to reference mapping. The dots are so completely opposite from the natural monochromatic palette that I’m using: there’s an incredible contrast. Your eye oscillates between the foreground and the background, and it creates an interesting effect. People end up focusing even more on the mountains.

To see more of David's work and to inquire about commissioning from David, please email us at info@cocogallery.net or fill out a form online.

Brushstrokes: Interview with CoCo Artist Laura G.

Today, we would like to share our chat with CoCo Artist Laura G. Her abstract depictions of the infinite sky transport viewers to a place of meditative serenity. They tend to provide a window to the beyond, especially in closed settings like long hallways and dark rooms. And yet, they also expand large environments, when natural light reflects upon them. Meet Laura.

CoCo Artist Laura G. in her studio.

CoCo Artist Laura G. in her studio.

CoCo: How would you describe your artwork?
Laura: I paint large-scale atmospheric oil paintings. As an artist, I strive to transport the viewer to a more peaceful dreamlike setting. In this hectic fast-paced world, it is my hope that the viewer will experience a moment of tranquility when viewing my work. 

CoCo: What inspired you to become an artist?
Laura: I was inspired to become an artist because I found a sense of serenity while I was painting. I think I am my happiest whenever I am creating. I was also fortunate as a child to visit art museums whenever my family took vacations and I remember feeling such a sense of awe staring at wonderful works of art. There was something very powerful about viewing famous pieces of art in person. It left quite an impression on me at a young age.

CoCo: Describe one of your favorite clients.
Laura: One of my favorite clients was Children’s Hospital in Aurora, Colorado. I got to visit the hospital and meet some of the patients. They were such sweet kids and so excited about art in general. I love when I’m able to see where my work will “live” and meet the people who will experience it on a daily basis.

CoCo: What does your work bring to its environment?
Laura: My paintings bring a sense of calm and peace to its environment as well as a burst of color. I like to think of my paintings as windows, looking out onto another world.


CoCo: What is your artistic process?
Laura: I start a painting usually with an image in my mind or a feeling I want to communicate. My paintings are places of my imagination. I find my work the most honest and authentic when I create from a feeling or an image in my mind’s eye.

CoCo: What is your favorite piece?
Laura: My favorite piece changes quite often but my current favorite is “Ciel Colorado.” I have really loved working with shades of lavender, purple, blues and greys lately. I love the understated palette; it feels so soothing to me.

Ciel Colorado,  44"x72", oil

Ciel Colorado, 44"x72", oil

CoCo: What is your favorite thing about doing a commission?
Laura: My favorite thing about commissions is that it is a true collaboration between the client and myself. I love creating something unique and specific to one client. It is fun to have an ongoing dialog with the client about what they envision and then bringing those ideas to life.

If you are interested in collaborating with Laura G., please contact us at info@cocogallery.net. We're happy to share more information about Laura and more of her artwork with you.

Brushstrokes: Interview with CoCo Artist Doug F.

Brushstrokes: Interview with CoCo Artist Doug F.

Through our new series of interviews, Brushstrokes, we're happy to introduce CoCo Artist, Doug F., a nationally celebrated abstract landscape painter, whose works have been exhibited in museums, galleries, and in private collections throughout the country. Doug's work? Think big, intense, and yet calm. 

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