Years ago when I moved to China, I knew there were a few personal habits that would translate in my adopted culture like using chopsticks, following the lunar calendar and adhering to the laws of feng shui. Feng shui, the Chinese art of placement reminds us that our experiences are often influenced by what surrounds us. Literally and symbolically (Am I the only one watching Homeland and Scandal?). These ancient interior decor goddesses suggest adopting a more intuitive eye about what we place before us. When I was hoping to refill my newly purchased Matt and Nat wallet, I placed bowls of lemons and oranges on my kitchen counter (they are symbolic of tree energy and fruits of labor). I also cleaned the crushed-glass framed mirror behind my stove top to double the burners and my money luck.
The sages also knew that art (paintings, sculpture, drawings, photos) can play a key role in energizing your space and inviting abundance, love, and success into your life. It’s no wonder that traditional Chinese art is rich with auspicious colors and magical animals. But art is subjective and not everyone shares a fondness for opulent golds, reds, bold tigers and dragons. Not even this chopstick-using, lunar calendar, feng shui junkie.
As an artist and sustainable girl, I turned to my own aesthetic for decorative purposes and blessing conjuring. I soon realized that my go-to art source; aside from my own pieces and or the scribbles of my four-year old, was contemporary art. Yet while more easily available and relatable, collecting and displaying art as money-magnets came with its own set of challenges. In general, contemporary art breaks rules, establishes new ones and asks the viewer to perceive and value images based on new criteria. Sure, beauty and art is in the eye of the beholder, but some pieces of art are best beheld in a gallery not your home – imagine John Currin’s portraits staring back as you drink your morning coffee or entertain guests. So what’s a stylish and socially responsible feng shui apprentice to do?
When using art as a visual and mental nod to the direction you’d like your life to expand, think of basic art principles - color, shape and texture as well as image content. According to the bagua (the Chinese instrument used to determine direction and chi), objects and imagery should encourage a flow of energy and be representative of the elements (wood, fire, metal, water, earth). A piece from Stephen Fairey's "We The People" series (see our homepage) which is colorful, sculptural and textual also exudes natural and societal intelligence and wisdom, which might be a perfect selection for a study or den; or a protest rally. In addition to the fact that the cost of the artwork was charitable (if you opted to support the Kickstarter campaign) or free, if you downloaded for the march on Washington. Either way, knowledge and art in this case signifies affordable power. If you want to activate your career section (the lower center square of your home’s floor plan), the color black symbolizes water and well, you want your career to flow, right? Make it rain! A painting that actually shows water flowing could yield an overflow of new subscribers and coaching clients. Hint. Hint. Or you could go literally green and transform a wall into a "wall of growth". While it's not of the energy of water, the energy is of natural and maintained growth.
Wanting to invite fame and recognition into your life, choose an artwork with geometric shapes with sharp angles like triangles and stars. Love thrives off images with couples as in Lila+Lola's horse print. Yet, piece that embodies soothing pinks are perfect in the love and good partner section (upper right corner). Not into pinks - try imagery that is sultry and seductive - best if your bedroom is in the lower right corner (helpful friends and travel). Hanging this type of piece might inspire going on a weekend-long date night. If you are single but wish to become a couple, stay away from art that depicts single people. On the flip side, if allure, mystery and a touch of unavailability are the calling cards of your dating and mating charm, stick with the singletons, but make sure they are covered or partially concealed in a way that jives with your intent. (like the half painted portrait above!)
One could maximize their real travel luck and international networking by framing artworks that depicted city or natural landscapes, objects or people in motion, like this fave Japanese temple pic found on Unsplash. Of course the artwork has to appeal to you on some gut level. The playful pieces that would work well in my child’s bedroom would not likely work as well in a boyfriend’s office. If wellness and harmony are what you seek and/or inspires you, try sculptural items that lend themselves to mind-body connection and well, stillness.
Happy Chinese New Year!!!!
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