Artwork Options For Above My Fireplace (It’s a Personal Thing!)

Way before I built my own fireplace, I started gathering ideas on how I wanted to decorate my mantel and the wall above my mantel.

You may have noticed that I’m not a seasonal/holiday decorator.  🙂  There are no seasons or holidays that I decorate for personally, and I decided a few years back that I wouldn’t force myself to do so just for blog fodder.  So I needed something that was more of a permanent, year round look.

And while I was looking for ideas, I also discovered that I like a very clean look for a mantel and overmantel.  I don’t like a lot of clutter, or lots of little tchotchkies.  I just like clean, simple, and classic.

So I decided I want one beautiful painting with wall sconces on either side.  And depending on how that looks, I may or may not put a couple of small items in the mantel.

I just love that clean, simple look, especially when there’s an overmantel adding some architectural detail.  I don’t have an overmantel yet, but I will!

Traditional Living Room by Seattle Architects & Designers Paul Moon Design

Traditional Living Room by Edina General Contractors John Kraemer & Sons

As far as the painting, I would prefer an oil painting that was done by a real artist rather than me just randomly slapping paint on a canvas and calling it “modern art.” 😀  (I’m sure true modern artists would be thrilled with my use of that term in the past to describe my paint-slapping techniques!)

Well, lucky me.  It just so happens that I have a source for free-to-me original artwork — oils on canvas.  That source?  My mom!

I’ve mentioned a few times before, but my mom is an incredibly talented artist.  While she hasn’t painted in years (probably two decades), she used to actually teach oil painting classes out of our home when I was growing up.  My dad knocked out the wall between two of the downstairs bedrooms and converted that into her studio, and about twice a week, that studio would be filled with her students.  I love those memories.

But sadly, it wasn’t until I was much older that I really started to gain an appreciation for her actual artwork.  But now, I love the idea of walking into my living room and seeing one of my mom’s paintings hanging as the focal piece above my fireplace.  People always say that artwork is such a personal thing, and for me, it’ll be personal in more ways than one.

So a week or so ago, I headed over to her house to see if she had something I could use above my mantel.  I knew I wanted a landscape, and that just happened to be her specialty.  So I brought a couple of paintings home with me to try out.

I’m pretty sure this first one will end up being the one.  It’s one of her earlier paintings that she did in 1977.  (She started painting in 1973.)

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When I brought it into the living room, I couldn’t believe how beautiful the colors went with the colors I have in that room!  It’s almost like this room was decorated around this painting!  (It wasn’t.  I promise!)

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Now obviously, it’s way too small.  So if I end up using this one, I’ll have to have a print made of it, and I’ll have it printed on canvas so that it’ll look like an original.

I also brought this other landscape home.  It was also painted in 1977.  This one turned out to be Matt’s favorite.

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I love this painting also (especially that cute little squirrel), but over the years, the oils have yellowed.  And I personally don’t like it for my living room nearly as much as I like the first Texas bluebonnet painting.

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This one was another contender.  My mom much prefers this painting (she’s not too crazy about her earlier work) because it’s one of her later paintings, and you can see that she really improved in her painting.

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I mean, just check out the detail on that tree.  It’s like she painted every single little leaf individually.

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(And as a side note, now you can understand why my original tree mural in the condo kitchen kept her awake at night, and why she strongly encouraged me to make some changes, and then kindly guided me along the way.)  😀

Another of my favorites is this windmill painting, which is also one of her later paintings.

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See the little quail at the well?  I love that detail!  This painting wouldn’t work for me, though, because I really don’t think a vertical painting would look as good as a horizontal painting above the mantel.

Anyway, those were some options, but I’m really leaning towards the very first one.

While landscapes were her specialty, she did branch out into some other things — still life, animals, and even a portrait or two.

This is one of my all-time favorite non-landscape paintings of hers.  This hung on the wall above our piano when I was growing up, and I remember people would walk right up to it, squint their eyes, and try to read the text on the pages of the Bible.  😀

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You can actually read the page titles, chapter numbers, and page numbers, but the rest isn’t really writing.  Sure looks real, though!  And it fooled a lot of people!  You can click on this next picture to see it close up.

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And then this is probably my favorite animal painting of hers — a majestic bald eagle.

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I have one super talented mom, don’t I?! 🙂

I can’t wait to get one of those paintings framed and hung above my mantel. It very well might end up being my favorite thing in the whole room.



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  1. Have you thought of using more than one of the paintings. There are a few that would look great together and you can play with the scheme of it. Just a thought.

  2. I really love the first picture! I think the colors go perfectly with your living room and having it enlarged is a great idea!!

  3. Wow, your mom’s art is amazing and I clicked over to see what she had to say about your mural. Her critiques were spot on and it made the mural go from great to fantastic. I think that the bluebonnets painting will go best and I can hardly wait to see it blown up and put about the mantel. I am a bit confused, though. I thought the mirror was going there. Where will it go now?

    1. I completely love the bluebonnets but am not crazy about the idea of ‘blowing it up” Would rather see a big bold piece there with the original bluebonnets hung somewhere lower where people could enjoy it up close and personal (like your ideas of family photos being hung in a similar place).. And . . .I thought the reason your lotus mirror was hung “too high” was because it was going over the fireplace? (Not that you aren’t free to change your mind.)

      1. I wholeheartedly agree about not enlarging. It is breathtaking and commands a presence as it is but the right matte(s) and frame would turn it into a showstopping statement piece.

  4. I am blown away by you mom’s talent. I agree that the one painting seems too yellow and that a horizontal picture would be a better fit. That beign said – there clearly is no wrong choice. They are all amazing – especially her early work for the simple fact that she was that good in the beginning.

  5. My mother grew up in Texas and loved the Texas bluebonnet flowers that she used to pick as a child. That is not a flower you see in Utah where I live. Many years ago she gave me a set of dishes with the bluebonnets on them. She was so excited to have found this pattern and to give me a little bit of her childhood. So Texas bluebonnets hold a special place in my heart and I have to vote for that painting!

  6. I love your mom’s paintings. She is very talented. I think if you got a fabulous frame with some weight to it, you could use the original painting (the first one. Once you build the over mantel and trim it out, the original may look just the right size. I love original over prints every time myself. And it is a wonderful way to honor your mother and her talent!

      1. I was thinking the same thing. A really chunky frame and it might just work beautifully. I also think a grouping would be nice.

        1. I agree with using the 1st painting and getting or making a chunky frame for it!!! Maybe in the color of the tiles? LOVE how your fireplace turned out!!

  7. The first painting for sure! Fits right in! I’m sure you have other places for some of your favorites. Will you be doing the white part above the mantel like your inspiration pictures? (or is that an overmantel?)

  8. I really like the first two as well for above the mantel and can understand the desire to put one of your mom’s paintings on your wall. My grandmother and both her daughters, my mom and aunt, are all very artistically talented. They all have used various media and I love their work. Makes me think about doing the same and including their pictures in my home.

  9. WOW! I begin to see where you got your talent from. Well for my humble opinion. I LOVE THEM ALL! Haha. So much help huh? Ok it do love the way the Bluebell’s pull the colors from around your painting. But my heart is pulled to the later work of the tree. Just beautiful! And the Eagle is gorgeous but not appropriate for the living room. However as an aside I will tell you that once on a back road in WV I was driving when one of those majestic beauties landed in the road and just sat! I sat in my car in wonder at how beautiful and BIG this creation of God was. The chest of that bird had to be at least a foot across! I am getting goosebumps from the memory. To see this beautiful creature in the wild was amazing! And the fact that he/she just looked at me with those black eyes like saying “take a picture it will last longer!” Ha ha. I had no camera but the memory is still fresh. Anyhoo, love your Mom’s work and it is so sweet that you will have a “picture that will last longer!” HaHa

  10. I love the blue bell painting, but I think it will get lost blown up with the window coverings. The more simple one, of just the tree, sky and grass might be the best choice. I also like the one Matt likes for the same reason, it won’t compete with the window coverings.

  11. Those are all so lovely! I lived in Texas only for one year but we did go to somewhere to a blue bonnet festival and driving there was a sight to behold with all the blue bonnets blooming, I’ll never forget it. So, I can see why you’re drawn to the blue bonnet one but I am with your Mom on this, I love her choice.

    And, God love ya for knowing the difference between slapping paint on a canvas and calling it “modern art” and actual professional abstract art! You can thank your Mom from me!!

  12. I truly love the first painting and would use it in its original size, however matted and framed with a nice chunky frame in tones of the tiles below. Adding a pair of sconces next to,it is also an option. I also love stacking on a mantle and if you were using a mirror on wall, could stack accessories (candlesticks, pottery, greens and the print) on the mantle! I’m constantly changing mine! Your mom has amazing talent!!

  13. Whatever one(s) you choose, it is so wonderful that you can have something so personal from someone you so love and that so loves you, to be placed in a position of honor and showcase. ~:)

  14. Oh Wow!
    Your mother is extremely talented. At first I thought you were going to tell us you commissioned her to paint you something, but I take it she doesn’t paint anymore?
    That bible painting is incredible in it’s detail. I can’t imagine how long that took. It’s certainly explains your tenacity!!!
    I thought you were going to keep the lotus mirror. Not that I disagree with putting one of your mom’s painting up. I guess you’ll show us your new spot for the mirror down the line.

  15. I like the first one. It matches so well with your room and color scheme. It looks like it was made specifically to go in that room.

  16. I agree with you about the first one. All of them are beautiful! Hopefully you can use some of the others in other rooms. Such talent and creativity in your family!

  17. Holy crow. She is one talented lady. You can’t go wrong with any of these if they are framed in the size you need. Art is personal, so pick the one you love the most and go for it!

    I agree with Diane Low above, once you put the trim above the fireplace you will probably be able to mat and frame the original painting and have it fit nicely. Especially if you are putting sconces in the space as well.

    Looking forward to seeing the final vignette.

  18. I choose the bluebonnet picture. Until I moved to Texas I didn’t know anything about bluebonnets. Could not get over there was a hotline telling you where they were blooming if you wanted to go see them. Your mom did beautiful work.

  19. My Mama is gone now but if I had just one painting like those..WOW! She needle pointed me a vase with flowers in it and Its such a treasure.Your mom has some major talent.Being a Texan myself I adore her Bluebonnet painting.Thank You so much for sharing some of her work!!!

  20. Im an art student and i have to say, your mother is amazing! That bible is absolutly beautiful and her trees look real. She is wonderfully talented 🙂

  21. These are all beautiful! I can see where you get your talent from. I love the first paint it will be perfect for the room. Next I like the windmill and then the one your mom picked out.

  22. Wow, what a gift she has and now I see the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. What a blessing on both accounts and thank you so much for sharing some of her beautiful work! Can’t wait to see what you decide because you have a great eye and I know it will be fab.

  23. I like both yours and your Mom’s choice. I am so in awe of talent of both of you ladies. I guess you come by yours genetically, so blessed. Looks like you have decor already for other areas of your home.

  24. I would BUY that book painting! I love it.

    I agree about using the original bluebell painting in a large heavy frame.

  25. Every painting is so nice, and such a treasure to own. While I hope you will accept the one your mother likes best, and use it somewhere else in your home to show her progression, I too believe that the bluebonnets is the one for above your fireplace. If I were you, I’d try to snag the Bible one also. It’s my favorite.

    Having a larger print made is an option, however I value original over a print. Please look at and see their widest frames. If you add a six inch fancy frame to the picture, the size will be appropriate, plus it will give the painting the true prominence it deserves. No matting for oil paintings!

    I truly love that you will only use a painting and sconces. Any more might be too busy. And I believe you’ve found the true home for your beautiful mirror already on the entrance wall.

    Your project has been the excitement in my day, each day. Love it.

    1. I picked out fram #WX314 for bluebonnet painting and for your living room. The light neutral color of the frame is perfect with what your have chosen already. It is 3 7/8″ wide and has a rabbet that is 1 1/8″ deep. I’m assuming your canvas is stretched over a once stretcher. The color of the frame is similar to the background in your roman shades, and is ornate, so it emphasizes how special the painting is. That was so much fun, but you may hate it. LOL.

  26. My home is full of art by my uncle who is a nationally known wildlife artist. I have mostly prints, a few giclees and this last year he presented me with one of his originals! I am very lucky to have such a talented person in my family as are you.

  27. I like the blue bonnets one best too, but they are all great. I inherited most of my mom’s original artwork, and it has added so much to the decor in my home. Both in just finally having quality artwork on the walls, but also because I can look at it and know my mom is still part of my everyday life. Its also amazing to be able to share her talent with friends and neighbors when they come over, and be able to tell her story. I’m glad you will be able to do the same in your home, and thank you for sharing with us about your mom’s lovely talents!

  28. Any one of those paintings would look great, but I am thinking that I like the bluebonnets painting the best too. While I like all of the others, I think that it will look best above your fireplace. I would also try to beg to be allowed to use some of the others in your home as well. I usually don’t like animals/birds, but I do like the eagle. The Bible is certainly a personal choice (I like it, but you may end up having to defend that choice to others; and the colours don’t really go well in your living room, but it may work in another room).

  29. Awesome paintings, all! But if you’re going for something that matches the room, the first one is the best choice. The colors are just perfect. I agree with those who say, just use the original. With a beautiful frame, it will be the focal point of the room, especially after you get the overmantel in place. And how special that it is your mom who painted it! The room is coming together!

  30. My fav is the bluebonnet painting. It is so beautiful, It brings all the colors of the room into one place, and seems to brighten the shades even more. And I’m from the Hill Country in Texas, so, bluebonnets are in my heart!

  31. Wow . . . another talent in the family! Your mom’s work is lovely and I vote for the first painting. The colors looks great with your window treatments! I agree that larger would be better but I’m torn about using a print rather than the original piece. I loved Genelle’s idea about using the original and framing it to make it larger. So many decisions but you’ll think it through and make the right choice for you and Matt.

  32. I see where you get your artistic talent! Why hasn’t your Mom painted more recently? My Grandmother was a watercolor painter but could not after she developed arthritis. I have several after her pieces in my home. Back to the mantle. ..are you still using the beautiful lotus mirror? If so, you could put the painting on the mantle with a couple other things. I love the look of art leaned against the wall. It is so casual.

  33. Your Mom is truly gifted! They are all beautiful! There are 4 I love and 3 of those for above the mantle: early tree, later tree and cabin. The Bald Eagle is breathtaking, but not for the living room!

  34. Love the paintings. But instead of having a print made couldn’t you embelish the original oil work by a matting and framing it? Then you would still have room to place your sconces.

  35. I love the bluebonnet one. The colors are perfect for your home. I am from TX and we were transferred to Atlanta a few years ago. I can’t begin to tell you how much I miss everything in TX. Your mom is extremely talented and you also got her creative genes. If your mom decides to paint again and is interested in selling them, I would be very interested in buying.

    Take care. Thanks for sharing your mom’s gorgeous paintings. I would love to have that talent.

  36. My vote is for the first painting – the bluebonnets. It’s just breathtaking – she is so talented. Like mother, like daughter! We lived in Southlake, TX from 1999 to 2006 and your mom’s painting reminds me of the bluebonnets along Hwy 121 outside of Grapevine on the way to the DFW airport. I eagerly await your next project – am especially interested in your remake of your sofa! You are just so inspiring! Your fireplace is divine!

  37. Blue bonnets painting is my favorite as well! So much talent,did she just get burnt out?
    I hope that if you do blow the painting up that you will detail as to how to get this accomplished,I have wanted to know the steps. So glad to get a peek into your talented life!

  38. I do not know if it is your style but, if you put the first oil painting in a ornate beefy frame it would be the perfect size. I just found your blog and love what you have done to your parents home. I look forward to reading your whole blog.

  39. I love the bluebonnets. Your mother is a very blessed artist and all her paintings are beautiful. I do agree with the fact that once you frame it and put sconces up that you may not need to have it “blown up” I would love to see it in a nice solid frame (one I’m sure you can make). Can’t wait to see the finished room and the final choice on which painting you use!

  40. Wow, your mom is so talented! What a delight it will be to have some of her work hanging in your own home. My own opinion is to not use the first landscape over your mantle. My reason is the reason others give for using it — to my eye it is too matchy. I am afraid you would blunt the uniqueness of this work if it were the focal point of the room over the mantle. I would like the third piece better. That tree is phenomenal! Perhaps you could get her to part with more than one and use the first landscape in another room, since I am assuming you will continue the color theme on the main floor of your home. Just my two cents…

  41. What a treat to see your mom’s work. She’s very talented, even in the early days, which most of us don’t even come anywhere close to her early work in our later days! How honoring to have you use her artwork.Thanks for sharing her gift with us.

  42. I would go with the first one. You can have it done with several mats and a big thick frame. Now I know where you get your talent from! Beautiful paintings, all of them.

  43. Wow your mom is really talented…now I see where you got YOUR talent from! I do like the very first painting for above your fire place and was glad you said you would enlarge it. Perhaps you could use her other paintings elsewhere in the room?


  44. The first picture of your moms you posted here especially are the color bases that you love so much and have used to decorate your condo and your new home in. 🙂 you and your mom are very artistic.

  45. You are so lucky to have such a talented mom! I like the first one as well but I agree that the scale is not quite right. I like your idea about having it printed on canvas in order to get the larger size that the space needs. But is it maybe just a little too perfect as far as matching the colors in your room?

  46. Well, your mom is quite a talent. I like the tree best. I like the idea of a real oil painting instead of a print. I’m sure you will make it look good. (Easy to do when you have art work like that to choose from!)

  47. For paintings that are just dirty (smoking, age, whatever) this weird tip is what they do in museums sometimes to restore old paintings.
    Human saliva on a q-tip, gently touched onto the surface.
    I did this on two paintings (and saliva grosses me out) but it completely changed the color, it took the dirt right off. I saw it on a show about restoring objects and I believe they were showing it done at the Smithsonian. More info here:

  48. My favorite is the bluebonnet painting but they are all beautiful. Such talent! If you put the bluebonnet painting in a chunky frame with a pair of sconces on either side, I am thinking it would be perfect for the room. Good luck with your decision making and I’m sure you’ll choose the right one.

  49. Lucky you to have such sweet memories, and so many options. Any of your choices would be just fine for you. I wouldn’t presume to say. Another thought, does your Mom still paint? She’s so talented, maybe she’d like the challenge of painting your house with it’s awesome tree for over your mantel in just the right size.

  50. Not sure how you could choose…they are all so beautiful. I am in awe of your mom’s talent. How special! I love them all, but I really love the Bible. Simply amazing. 🙂

  51. Wow, your mom has amazing talent! Now we know where you get it from! Creativity and artistry obviously runs strongly in your family. Her work is gorgeous.

    I am in love with that first painting, and think it looks beautiful in the room. It’s like it was custom painted to fit in that space. I do think it would look really nice blown up on canvas as well. Not sure if you’re going to do a giclee or what, but I have several giclees done by Christie Repasy (my favorite shabby chic/roses painter) and they are beautiful and high quality when you see them in person, they look like real oil paintings.

    I cannot wait to see the fireplace wall when it is finished with the painting and sconces. It’s lovely now, but I can tell it’s going to be even more gorgeous!

  52. I love all of the artwork your mom painted!! However, I do understand why you favor the first one, as it’s beautiful and does look great with your room. What I want to know is if your mom ever sold her paintings, or if she just taught classes? She has a great talent!!

  53. One other think I wanted to mention is that I also like the idea of keeping the mantle pretty clean. I’m not sure why it is, but I have some artwork hanging on the wall above my fireplace, and I don’t like to clutter things up too much on the mantle. Although people have suggested that I put something up there, I tend to want to put less than others and like the artwork to be the star.

  54. Well, the acorn didn’t fall far from the tree ! You are both artists in different media. I have several print to canvas with the brush marks hanging in heavy frames in my house and I love them. Size does matter!

    1. Well, the acorn didn’t fall far from the tree ! You are both artists in different media. I have several print to canvas with the brush marks hanging in heavy frames in my house and I love them. Size does matter!
      I prefer the painting of the house, gate and lane thru pasture. It inspires curiosity: who lived in house, what was their story, where does lane end, etc.???

  55. Your mom is very talented. And I’m like you…clean lines, minimal stuff. I can’t wait to see the painting you choose and how it looks above the mantel.

  56. Your mother’s artwork is awesome! The bluebonnets is beautiful, but I really liked #3 the later done tree. For me, having a print made wouldn’t be the same as having “mom’s painting” hanging over your beautiful fireplace.

  57. Wow! Easy to see where you got your talent and great eye for detail! I love the bluebonnet picture,I would hang the original to the right and hang 2 scones to the left of it,instead of hanging it right in the center

  58. I love the bluebonnets painting! It really does look as if you designed the room around it. I think it would look great above the mantle if you used a heavy frame.

  59. Wow! Your mother’s paintings are fabulous! I vote for the first one. The color is absolutely perfect. I like the idea of a grouping but I kinda think it can also be a bit of a cluttered look… But who knows? I gotta say the Bible up close? That is amazing….

  60. Why not paint a contrasting block of color to act as a “frame” around the small painting? It’s obviously meant to be there. It matches your room perfectly.

  61. Hi,
    I love your blog. First painting is amazing. Your mother’s artwork is overwhelming! She is God-gifted. One should get inspired from her art.

  62. I absolutely love the first choice for your room! All of the paintings are beautifully done. Your mom is quite talented!

  63. Bluebonnet pictures are one of my favorite art pieces. Your mother does amazing work and I know you are proud of her. A vertical picture, however, would balance the space from your ceiling to your mantel. A grouping would look nice but one vertical picture balances the wall and putting taller items on your mantel fills the space on both sides! Keep up the good work….

  64. um… WOW! Your mom is hard core talented… like seriously. I totally agree- doing a larger print of that first painting would be AWESOME!!!! I am also one of those that like less “deco stuff” like brick-a-brack and as I call them… DUST magnets! Although the dust bunnies in my house mutated with cat hair… 😉 Alas- our house was wired to have the stupid t.v. over the fireplace. pending another set of man muscle to help lift the stupid heavy thing up and mount it properly. meh… I do have an adjacent wall for a painting- or the opposite end which is the dining area. I shall embrace the builder beige until further notice. 😉

  65. I love all the paintings. Your mother is very talented.

    The first one is so much like the colors you used that I think ti would blend too much into the decor. I think the one with the tree and squirrel would draw more attention.

  66. How awesome that your Mom is a wonderfully talented painter. Now I see where you get your creativity besides personal drive. 🙂

  67. LOVE your mom’s paintings – you should so encourage her to pick up a brush again if she’s physically able. She is definitely talented, but you know that already. It just feels like a shame she’s not creating more! I think the first one is probably my personal favorite, but they are all worthy of an honored place in your home.

  68. OH MY GOSH!!! Kristi your mom is one of the most talented artists I’ve ever seen!! Absolutely stunning work! Does she sell her work? She certainly should!! She may have grown better over the years, but she was fantastic even back when too!

    Of course the one that you picked is the best looking one! You have a super eye for that as well. Too bad it wasn’t a bit larger though, so you could have her original painting hanging there.

  69. Have you considered mounting the original oil painting on a board painted in a complimentary color or perhaps paint it white with a small trim to mimic a panel effect. It would act as a matting without touching the painting while giving it a larger presence on the wall. I think the Texas Bluebonnet painting is a perfect choice!