Seascape (20th century) by Simon Michael, $349; chairish.com

Fine-art photographer and co-owner of Montecito's Mate Gallery Matt Albiani shares five tips for curating a seaworthy art collection.

By Rachael Burrow and Betsy Cribb

1. Do Some Field Research
Give yourself time to browse, advises Albiani. "Visit galleries that carry a range of both prices and pieces to get a feel for what you're attracted to." Knowing what you like and how much you're willing to spend will make it easier to build a cohesive collection.

2. Gauge Your Style
Pre-1900s seascapes traditionally feature stormy scenes with deep midnight hues. "Life, especially out at sea, was more of a struggle back then. The darker palettes seem to reflect that." Conversely, midcentury pieces tend to feature brighter colors and smoother seas.

3. Cast a Wide Net
Flea markets and side-of-the-road antiques shops can be troves of unexpected gems. "Ron, Mate Gallery's co-owner, and I stopped at a junk-house barn in rural Connecticut once, and buried in the back was a large, signed Montauk seascape from 1958. You never know where you'll find something."

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4. Make a Deal
"We always encourage people to haggle and try to bring the price down." Reaching out to artists directly may also be helpful in scoring a deal, he says. Generally, larger works tend to come with a bigger price tag, and signed paintings sell for more than unsigned pieces.

5. Vary Your Dimensions
If your first piece was a 5" by 7", find a 16" by 20". "Having a range of sizes gives a collection depth, especially for creating a great gallery wall."