I held the two white-wrapped packages in my hands, one long, the other small and square, their ends tied with twine in the shape of the Christmas crackers I grew up with that always contained a tiny charm.

As I made my choice I felt a thrill. It was part art collector and part kid choosing a cupcake, and it was a new sensation...the sensation of acquisition, of genuine personal connection to something I wanted yet hadn't even seen yet.

It's a funny thing to find myself saying but I think I get the excitement of collecting art.

I get how addictive it could be.

So this is what it's all about. This is the other side of the transaction, the dance in which I am always the maker and the seller, never the buyer. This is what it's like to become the safekeeper of an object that palpably hums with the artist's lifetime of study, of thinking, of passion, experience, hours of work and power to communicate.

Tonight at an auction I bought my first ever work by another artist. It's someone whose work I've admired for a long time (Margie Livingstone) and it's a beautiful little piece, one of her acrylic and wood sculptural paintings. It was a steal and the proceeds, such as they were, went to support SOIL, Seattle's oldest and often most exciting artist-run Gallery - a great cause.

When I got it home I unwrapped it all the way. It's an inch and a half square, the striated layers of acrylic mated to a layered wood composite base, two striped materials conjoined with a hole drilled to it hang by, signed on the back, M.L.

I love her thinking and execution, from her spatial yet abstract paintings of organic structures in perspective to these recent plays on the whole concept of paint as a sculptural material.

After a little thought I carefully placed it on the mantel next to one of my Vegas Squarescapes. It's a welcome spot of someone else's energy in the room. It's the beginning of my art collection.