The Collector's Project with Art Consultant, Rachel Doner Turrin

The most important advice I offer my clients is to purchase art that makes you feel good….and this means something uniquely different to everyone. 


When I begin working with a new client, I always ask, “How do you want your space to feel?”, because art is a powerful way to impact mood.  The question: “What kind of art do you like?” is difficult to answer in objective terms.


If you haven’t really shopped for art before, I recommend looking at a LOT of it – and keeping an open mind – until you start to discern patterns.  For example, you might automatically gravitate toward more traditional landscapes or photographs because they are recognizable and comfortable….but if you start to explore, you may discover that you love strong gestural abstracts, or images of people – maybe the female gaze.  Perhaps you will realize you enjoy complex collage work, or clean graphic images. 


Fairs like Artist Project are perfect for casually exploring a variety of art, in order to discern your preferences (and make purchases!). Over the years, I have enjoyed viewing the fair with clients, and adding to my personal collection, including works by artists such as Kal Mansur, Erin Rothstein and Hugo Cantin.


An important tip: when shopping for new artwork, be sure to take note of the scale, because size is super important when selecting the right piece of art for your wall.  A good rule of thumb is to cover
at least 2/3 of the width of your furniture. Err on the size of too large. 


Another piece of valuable advice:  custom framing is everything! The right frame will augment the beauty and value of your painting, tie it into the other elements in your room, and make it feel complete.  It is always worth the extra investment.


Generally, hang your art about 7” above your furniture, or, on a clear wall, at about 58” from the floor to the centre of the art.  Better yet, hire professional installers who will ensure your art is safely hung (and never crooked).

CAN21ARP_Rachel Doner Turrin

Lastly - don’t put too much pressure on yourself (or the art!).  No single possession can mean everything to you; each piece you collect can reflect one facet of your personality or life story. 


If you are having trouble figuring it all out, work with an Art Consultant who has the experience and insight to point out your own patterns for you (and coordinate the framing and installation).  I sometimes jokingly refer to myself as a bit of an ‘art clairvoyant’ or matchmaker – because there is definitely art out there that you will LOVE!  Sometimes it is helpful to have an objective, experienced opinion to guide you along the way.


I hope you like my selection of artwork for this edition of The Collector’s Project, displayed via Artrooms.  I’ve chosen a wide variety of pieces which showcase different techniques and subject matter, and exhibit brilliant talent.  Artist Project has such a great range of artists on board – it was hard to choose only a few to feature!


Remember - don’t be too quick to judge.  Give yourself a moment to go beyond your automatic reaction.  Don’t take it too seriously – have some fun!  And as long as you appreciate art, you shouldn't worry about whether it will appreciate.  The investment is in your
daily enjoyment….for many years to come!


Buy what makes you feel good.  Support your local artists and invite some beauty into your space.





Florence Solis 

Art is all about perspective, and we can all use a fresh one, from time to time.  Florence Solis creates
images that draw you in and make you wonder.  By deconstructing and overlapping fragmented layers, she questions the relationships we have with things around us. Her whimsical use of colour and shape allows us see each element individually.   I love the aesthetically balanced awkwardness of her work.  It adds personality to this balanced interior…and proves it is not necessary to match the art to the sofa!


She says, “Since my body of work is a reflection of this search [for identity], each painting is never truly complete but a continuation of the previous one. 


Gillian Toliver 

Personally, I love a great black and white gestural piece.  As Gillian Toliver has experienced, you can make many, many attempts until you eventually arrive at one that has that ‘special something’.  Well – inspired by her many small studies, this extra-large piece is created not from a large paintbrush, but from pencil!  The effort and patience that went into this drawing is astounding – with impressive results. 


Here’s an example of excellent scale within a space.  The architecturally dramatic washroom finds ease with this gestural image. 


She says, “These works are a reaction to the absurdity, multiplicity and fluidity of being.”


Paul Brandejs

Disrupting the ubiquitous rectangle is a concept I can really get behind!  Recently we have seen many artists
branching out into a circular trend, but Paul Bandjes takes this idea much further.  Creating scenes inspired by the
environment around him, he combines sculpture, painting and photography into one, on sculpted canvas.  


I love how this piece looks on a dark wall ­– it’s as though the sunshine is emanating right into the room.


He says, “My investigation into the tradition of Canadian art, the unadulterated beauty of the physical world, and resonating passing memory, results in an attempt to communicate the grandeur and fragility of nature.”


Lori Harrison 

Finding beauty in imperfection is sometimes the best way to appreciate the world around us.  Combining
order and disorder together is tricky business, and Lori Harrison finds lovely balance between clean geometric forms and loose, naturally painted marks.  Using a variety of materials, including linen, wood, plaster, metal, ink and paint, she creates organic texture and depth, layered with sharp contrasting shapes.  


This natural linen in a light wood frame work well together in this relaxing space.  I love how the white line in the painting echoes the rattan swing chair.


She says, “Finding beauty in chaos is an act of hope.”


Nelson Cheng 

Do you recognize this view? The imaginative palette – vibrant cobalt blue mixed with complementary red and green – creates a surreal scene which is all too familiar to any of us who live and work in the urban Toronto environment. 


This painting would be equally at home in a cool condominium, or a corporate setting.  The warm wood of the sideboard and cognac lounge chair balance the metropolitan subject matter.


Find some inspiration from Nelson Cheng’s story!  His trained background is architecture and design, yet as an artist, he is self-taught….and he won the inaugural season of the TV show, Landscape Artist of the Year Canada


Cities are infinitely complex places – and we are all part of the milieu.  Christina Sideris, aka Equipoise,
illustrates this point beautifully, digitally layering images with pulsating colours, echoing the vibrancy of city life. 
By lighting the images from within, she adds more vibrancy, and pushes the boundaries of visual presentation for digital artworks.  Her lightboxes can be created at HUGE sizes, creating an immersive environment. 


Here, the art becomes a window onto our vivacious city.  The crisp white frame suits this fresh interior.


She says, “I want to harness the energy and flow of chaos in an urban city, next to the unwinding calm stillness in the desert.” 


About Rachel Doner Turrin

Serving the Interior Design trade, Rachel plays the role of matchmaker between artist and designer.  With her characteristic combination of sophisticated taste and genuine fun, Rachel uses her discerning eye to help you select perfect pieces to create the environment you envision.  Her clients say that her passion for art and interior design is tangible, with striking results.


Hailing from a family of creative people - see GalleryD - and with a Bachelor of Arts from UWO, Rachel continually builds her network of artists around the globe. Her work has been featured in every media, she proudly curated the artwork for the new Interior Designers of Canada office, and annually awards a scholarship to an Interior Design student.  Check out her portfolio of work at


In-situ artwork images done in partnership with