Give Me Back My Five Bucks

Have you ever bought an expensive piece of art?

The most expensive painting I own cost me $50, and then I spent $150 getting it professionally framed. So I guess my answer would be no, I’ve never owned an expensive piece of art. :)

I’ve always been interested in art, and find wandering through art galleries a great way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon. I’m a competent graphic designer (although I’m way better at layout than design), and love taking on crafty projects. But I don’t really know much about the art world. Still, we have managed to fill our walls with our combined collection. There’s just something about how hanging art on walls really makes a room feel homey and complete; like you’re not going anywhere anytime soon. Plus I love the contrast between a colourful piece of art and our white walls. :)

RD and I have very different tastes when it comes to art. He has broader, more eclectic tastes than me, but thankfully some of what he likes also overlaps into what I like too. We are both really into a Canadian artist named Meghan Hildebrand. The past few months we’ve been randomly going online to look at her pieces, and this year she came out with a couple of amazing ocean themed watercolour paintings.

So one of the big purchases we eventually wanted to make this year was one of her larger paintings (they’re selling for $2,500 to $3,000), so we decided to start saving so that we could buy something as a Christmas present to ourselves. I had never seen any of her work in person before, so a great opportunity came up when we were in Victoria a few weeks ago visiting my family – there was an art gallery which had a lot of her pieces on display!

Obviously you know where this is going. :) I saw that my favourite watercolour from her new collection was still available for $1,000 (framed). It was way cheaper than our anticipated budget, so after debating for a few minutes, I knew we were going to buy it. Yes, it was an impulse purchase. A big impulse purchase. But we are both thrilled to have gotten exactly what we wanted. The money came out of our House Fund, as closing costs/moving/furniture/renos came in well under what we had budgeted.

I feel really weird admitting that we bought a piece of art, and have been sitting on this blog post for a few weeks now. I never thought I’d ever be in a position to spend that kind of money on something that is just so clearly not a necessity, and I’m not comfortable with the realization that these are things we can afford. For some reason I really feel like buying (expensive-to-me) art is not relatable, but at the same time I’d never think twice about it if a friend had bought the painting. I think this might turn into a bigger post in the future as I’m struggling with my financial identity at the moment. But, I’m happy and grateful and really love looking at this beautiful painting every single day.


Have you ever bought an expensive piece of art?

Author: Krystal Yee

I’m a personal finance blogger and marketing professional based in Vancouver. I’m a former Toronto Star (Moneyville) columnist, author of The Beginner’s Guide to Saving and Investing, and co-founder of the Canadian Personal Finance Conference. When I’m not working, you can usually find me running, climbing, playing field hockey, or plotting my next adventure.


  1. Caroline says:

    Congratulations on your purchase! Her work looks beautiful. I think that when you get to a comfortable income bracket, it’s important to the economy (no joke) to make purchases like this – it helps support the art industry, ensures we keep advancing our cultural development as a society, and passes on income.

    And it looks beautiful :)

  2. Leigh says:

    I agree somewhat with Caroline. The most we’ve ever spent on a piece of art is $200 including framing. The rest of our artwork is photos we’ve taken ourselves. We did, however, spend $5,000 on a leather sectional last year which is by far the most I’ve ever spent on a piece of furniture. It is absolutely incredible, however, and we love it.

  3. My opinion on this is definitely biased, since I work as an artist, but I’m so happy for you that you’ll have the opportunity to own an original painting from an artist that you admire. There’s nothing wrong with owning a piece of art from Winner’s or Canadian Tire, if it brings you joy. But there’s something so wonderful about having an original. In your case, it’s going to bring you so much happiness and satisfaction, and make your home feel all the more special.

    I remember reading Marie Kondo’s book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and she talks about how her bedroom is minimalist, but in exchange for the expenses of fast fashion and knick knacks, she has a single painting that she purchased that brings her joy every time she looks at it. That’s what it’s all about. It might be a luxury item, but I’d argue that you can’t equivocate it to other luxury purchases, such as a Louis Vuitton purse. In your case, you’re supporting an artist, helping her to continue her craft, while enjoying a lifelong purchase that resonates with you. How exciting and wonderful for you!

    • Krystal Yee says:

      Yeah I can definitely relate to what she is saying in that book. We don’t have any knick knacks, fancy dishes, or expensive kitchen appliances. Being able to look at that painting every day has been really nice, and I hope (fingers crossed) to buy another one of her paintings in the next couple of years to go beside it. And maybe one day I’ll also have a MVD original hanging on my walls too. :)

  4. That painting is beautiful! The most I’ve spent on art was $60 on a painting I hung it in Mr. FAF’s office. It makes that tiny office cozier and bigger. I bought other pieces too, but their were much cheaper.

  5. SP says:

    We haven’t spent a large amount of art. About half of ours is stuff T made (he doesn’t really have time to paint anymore though), the rest is pictures we found and framed ourselves.

    However, we spent ~$1200 (?) I think on a (second hand) design chair that is also in the MoMa… T is more into furniture and art than I am, but I’m OK with us spending the money if he really wants.

    Plus, we haven’t found any current artists that are remotely affordable. Our shared favorite is Deibenkorn. I would love my entire house to be covered in his Ocean Park series, but I don’t think our walls are big enough. . . . (The paintings were inspired by the neighborhood we lived in in Santa Monica, where he also spent many years.)

  6. Kristyn says:

    Haha, yes, I have a weakness for art. As an adult, I’ve only ever bought one piece of “mass-produced” art and it was purchased to make a “cover” to hide my flat screen TV.

    The most expensive piece I own was purchased in Paris for about $2400 (I had met the artist in December while I was in Paris and went *back* in April after saving up money to buy one of his pieces – one of the perks of working for an airline!). My second most expensive was $1200 and I’m waiting for the exhibition to be over so it can be sent to me. At this time, the other 8 pieces I have (so far – art is addicting!!) range between $100 and $400 BUT I was lucky enough that I didn’t pay for all of them (gifts from the artists or purchased wtih gift money from relatives).

    In keeping with the addiction, I’m actively following 6 artists to watch for new pieces. I do still put money in savings…anything I spend on art has to be saved above and beyond my monthly savings rate and I love my job so working an extra 2 days a month (I usually work about 12 to hit my full time hours) isn’t a problem if I want to buy something pretty. :S

  7. I’d brought a few pieces here and there (I brought a great one back from Rwanda, and actually lived the cliche of seeing something on a cafe wall I loved) but I waited until I was in my 40s before I bought something expensive. It was hard to get my head around, but in the end I was so enamored with it I knew it was worth the cost. As Marianne said above, it’s about joy.

    It’s called Everything, and it’s by Daniel Hutchinson:

  8. Beautiful!

    A nice piece of art can really make a difference in your home and in your mood. Its amazing how things you see every day influence your mood in that way, but it definitely does, even if just subconsciously.

    Having a nice piece of art, one that you love, is definitely worth the investment.

  9. Thanks for sharing your experience. Your choice to purchase my work makes it possible for me to keep pursuing my art. Thanks for choosing me! Totally honored. M

  10. I think the most I have spent on any piece of art was approx. $200. That being said, I do appreciate great artwork and will definitely up my game in the future as other things fall in place!

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