LAURA CARTLEDGE: Art is just a bonus at the open house events

ARTISTS’ open houses are brilliant, in my opinion.

But quite a few of the reasons why, well, aren’t really anything to do with the art.

Topping that list has to be meeting new people.

I just love discovering the staggering number of talented individuals and groups who live locally.

The variety of which means I will always feel inspired.

This is followed, very closely, by getting to snoop in other people’s homes.

There’s just something brilliant about wandering around sitting rooms, halls and sheds.

Plus being arranged in this way, often in bite-sized venues, means I can see a lot very quickly.

All, amazingly, without my partner getting bored.

Another bonus is I don’t feel the pressure that comes with being in a big gallery.

Where you feel you have to – at least pretend to – give everything ample consideration.

But with the arts trails, you often get a book, a map, and can plan your course.

Which meant in Emsworth over the weekend, we could skip the wooden furniture – knowing the temptation would be too big for people without a house to call their own.

Instead we could make a beeline for the paintings and prints, which can be carefully stored under our beds if needs be.

I did make sure to throw in some curve balls, because I know my taste is a little too black and white.

For me that is the best thing about the subject. It’s subjective.

I either like it or I don’t.

Largely speaking – I can’t be wrong.

Having said that, it doesn’t mean my partner can’t be.

Surely I am not the only person who plays ‘which one do you like best?’

I ask because I genuinely want to know. But, having said that, the correct answer is, of course, my favourite.

In my defence, he has started to play his own gamem, too.

The working title is ‘purposely don’t like what she does’.

He seems to relish getting my Dragon’s Den-style pitch for whatever it might be – dinner, light fittings, music – before admitting he’s pulling my leg. What fun.

The only benefit of all this is we soon know if we are on to a winner.

Purely because the other person doesn’t make you jump through hoops.

Leaving the only thing to ask – ‘how much is it?’

One of these magical moments happened on the art trail.

The cause was a print of a painting by Marian Forster.

It passed the ultimate test by making us agree.

Then sailed through the size requirement and price round – purely because I couldn’t hear my over-burdened cupboards groaning and he didn’t need to look at our spending spreadsheet.

But best of all we, almost literally, found it in his backyard.

Making it a little slice of his home which I can’t wait to hang in our own.