Saturday, May 22, 2010

Framing: What Works & Doesn't

Framing Your Painting

You know, the frame for a work of art is the finishing touch and the last addition that can complement and even improve your work. However poor choices in framing can absolutely ruin a piece of art or diminish the chances for selling. Although framing a work of art is no complicated task, it is a decision that deserves some consideration. Below I’ve organized a few good pieces of framing advice from different sources:

Some paintings will need no frame. Many artists in oils and acrylics who work on wrap- around canvases literally carry their paintings around the edge of the canvas and choose to not frame. Be careful though because when the canvas is not wrapped around to the back of the piece there may be staples showing around the edges. Most of the store bought canvases (as well as panels or paper) will need a frame. Having staples or ratty edges on a canvas being displayed is a huge NO-NO. If you are lucky enough to stretch your own canvases, this is something you’ll want to consider.
What style of frame to choose: The basic rule of thumb is that the painting itself directs the selection of its frame. Period paintings or paintings with classical subject matter are best displayed in attractive gold frames, or a handsome dark wood such as walnut or oak. There are some really elegant hand-carved frames out there but beware they can be pricey. More modern, light-hearted or even abstract paintings deserve simpler frames. Sometimes a thin metallic frame with a color that works well with the painting (not clashing or distracting) will be a winner. Metallic colors also work well. Some galleries, especially in juried shows will require a very simple/neutral frame intended not to detract from the work of art or compete for attention.

And don’t get caught up on framing a painting to match a room. (Although some rooms decorated around the themes and colors of a finished painting can turn out really impressive) Again the key is that the frame should work well with the painting. And for those in doubt, a contemporary painting hanging in a traditional room doesn’t necessarily need a traditional frame - and vice versa. Generally, larger paintings will need larger frames (with wider molding).

Texture is another issue: Choose a finish that doesn’t compete with the art in color or texture. (For example a painting with many shades of blue would not look good in a frame with orange tones .) Fussy frames with busy finishes won’t work well with a painting containing busy images.

Some frame shops will have walls and walls of frame samples on display. This sometimes makes the process of choosing your frame more difficult. In these cases, I try choose three frames that seem to come close to what I’m looking for. Then I make my decision between those three. When in doubt, ask a framing specialist or someone with experience in art.

Another Tip- Beware of frames with linen liners (in-lay). No matter how often you dust, the linen portion of the frame will collect debris and become yellowed or discolored with time. I recently had to retire an old frame with a linen in-set and hated to see it go. Money down the drain! Not to mention I have to go pay for it to be re-framed.

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