A fresh coat of paint may be the quickest way to transform a space, but adding artwork is even easier. In fact, adding cool paintings to your interior can be a dramatic expression of your personality and style without having to completely repaint a room. The sky is the limit when it comes to choosing artwork because there’s a style for every taste, from realistic to abstract, to colorful and bright or dark and moody. Pick what you like in a size that fits the area you are looking to jazz up. Not sure what’s out there? Here are some cool paintings to get your imagination going:
Edgy and Colorful
Picking something that is both edgy and colorful is sure to grab attention. So much is going on in this painting by Mr. Brainwash, called Hitchcock, that it provides plenty of color. The paint extends beyond the traditional borders of the canvas, splashing across the wide, traditional frame in an irreverent and avant-garde style. Mr. Brainnwash is the pseudonym for LA street artist Thierry Guetta, who was also the subject of a film produced by Banksy, whose real identity is unknown. The juxtaposition of the wild colors and the staid central figure are different and a real conversation starter.
A little more graphic in style but no less colorful, this street art version of a well-known cartoon character is by Speedy Graphito. The artist, whose real name is Olivier Rizzo, is a Parisian-born pioneer of French street art. The painting melds iconic images with other figures and backgrounds in a colorful and unique style. The colors and subjects give the work a pop-art feel, which would be great in a modern space. The bright hues are also a perfect highlight for an otherwise minimalist room.
For those who like their art a little more orderly, there are plenty of beautiful graphic paintings that highlight repetition, illusion and depth. This work consists solely of squares, but the arrangement, coloring and composition create an engaging illusion that captures attention. The colors are muted but still add a dose of brightness to a space. A cool painting like this begs for a wall that is otherwise unadorned because it will be the very center of attention.
There’s nothing like a large and expansive triptych to add drama to a room. These three-part works are very cool paintings that dominate a room, providing color and pattern to the entire wall. This graphic trio by Chinese-born artist Shen Chen features an ombre style of work that includes deep and evocative red tones as well as lighter, yellow tones, much like a sunset. These large works need a large wall to be displayed properly.
A darker, more dramatic style of triptych is this one, which is Current, by Alex Olson. The Los Angeles–based artist is known for her abstract paintings that use patterns and shapes to create disjointed visual pieces. The progression of the motif across the panels creates a feeling of flow and a bit of turmoil, as the graphic image is swallowed up by the rising blue layer. Three-part pieces are cool paintings that tell a story and are ideal for a feature wall, especially where you want to make an instant statement.
Abstract works can take many forms, both colorful and monochrome. This cool painting by Julian Lethbridge is a wonderful example of a monochrome piece can provide texture as well as drama and depth. The Sri-Lankan born British artist works by building up the with pigment that he cuts into with repeated patterns. His later works feature more color, but the black and white pieces have special appeal. Instead of a painting some black and white graphic on your wall, better to find a fantastic monochrome artwork that speaks to you, that you will appreciate for many years.
Stylized Still Life
Works featuring a still life setting continue to be popular. In addition to very realistic renditions, more stylized versions of these compositions are an updated choice for contemporary interiors. This Flowers and Imari by David Bates is a wonderful example. His subjects are everyday items and events that he transforms into subjects for his canvases. The cool paintings are excellent for adding color and interest to a room. Choose something you like that complements also your color scheme. The beauty of adding art you love is that you can easily move it to a new space.
Moody and Realistic
Not all art is bright and cheery. Much of it derives its power from portraying the drama of a simple moment in time. This painting, Table with two apples in the shade, is by Latvian-born Edite Grinberga. At first glance, the composition is simple but very striking. The play of light from an unseen window over the unassuming desk where two random apples sit is a striking tableau. It is a very cool painting for the dynamism of its simplicity.
Novel techniques used to create cool paintings are often what make the pieces special. This mammoth, multi-colored work is by Holton Rower, the grandson of iconic artist Alexander Calder. Rower is best known for the technique he used to create this piece, which involves pouring large amounts of paint onto canvases and other foundation materials. Sometimes he carves into the paint later for another technique. The extraordinary element that a special method adds to a piece cannot be underestimated.
Another technique that is being seen more often is the use of smoke as a medium. These works by American artist Dennis Lee Mitchell are an amazing example of this medium. The realistic shading and drama of the flower petals in these cool paintings are the result of masterful manipulation of flame and smoke underneath the paper. Looking at the works, it’s very hard to imagine achieving these details with such a seemingly uncontrollable paintbrush — fire.
We’ve barely scraped the surface in covering all the different types of cool paintings that are available. As noted many times before, it is crucial to choose artwork that you love — for whatever reason — not just something that happens to “go with” your decor. Art is an investment as well as an expression of your art style.