Karen LeGault ~Fine Art Blog

May 1, 2012

How to Avoid the Bad and Pick the Perfect Frame for your Amazing Art

Filed under: Framing Art — by Karen LeGault @ 18:22

This is an example of a dark matte black frame with a  dark green mat. The green mat is lighter in value than the black frame and picks up the dark and medium greens in the print. The orange in the persimmons really glows with this combination. Limited edition print by Karen LeGault.

Choosing Frames for Your Precious Art

You have a beautiful piece of art, a watercolor on paper. You had fun finding it and enjoyed your connection with the artist.  But now you want to hang it on the wall. “I will just go down to the local frame store and buy myself a nice frame”, you say to yourself.

You get to the frame store and discover none of the frames fits your piece of art perfectly. You get creative and decide to let the frame be bigger on the  top and bottom than on the two sides. You decide there will be a much bigger space on the bottom than on the top.

“Oh, but which color wood do I want, this black one or this walnut color one?”

“Hmmm, this black one is too strong for the painting, which doesn’t have any black value in it. The frame would look good in my house, but I really like that stark look, too bad it doesn’t look good with my painting.”

“What about this walnut color wood frame with the plain square profile. (Profile refers to the shape of the frame in cross section.)

Oh yes, this is good, It picks up some of the red browns and tints in the red zone in the painting.”

You take it to the counter. After talking to the clerk for a minute you realize that the mat that comes with the frame needs to be cut to the shape of the painting. As far as the size of the window goes, the framing technician should be able to cut a window for  you if the mat is satisfactory.

The other problem with the mat in the frame package is that it may not be acid free.

“Not acid free?” you say.  Well, it could cause some discoloration of the mat that bleeds into the painting, over time, but fugitive, none the less,” the clerk explains.

“Ok, so I prefer a different color mat anyway” you concede. “That white mat is a little to much contrast for the painting. What will look good with the painting?”

“The wood in the frame is fairly mid-range dark and the painting has a lot of light and airy places in it and not any saturated blacks. I think this neutral tint would help to transition nicely between the frame and the picture.” Oh, yes,” you agree, I can see that looks quite nice.

You turn the painting over to examine the back of the frame. You notice that there is no wire across the back, but there is a bracket at the top and side to use to hang it.  Which bracket you use will depend on what the orientation of the painting is, landscape or portrait. One little problem, -hanging the painting from a top cross piece means that the frame joints are being challenged with the weight of the frame on a daily basis as it hangs. It is more likely to come apart sooner than later.

“There is one more problem. Plain glass is used in the frame package.”

“That’s a problem?” you express with surprise.  “Glass is green,” is the reply. “It changes the color of the whole painting. Your reds will not be so red. The colors will be filtered through the green glass.”

“This is sure getting complicated” is the thought that is raring up in your mind.

Suddenly you decide in the moment.  “I think I will have it professionally framed.”

Six Things to Know About Framing

I know you want to make that painting look even better with a great frame.

  1.  The style of the frame – It should make the painting look great and it should blend in with the style of your furnishing. With literally thousands of profiles to choose from, it should also fall in your budget range.
  2.  The material the frame is made of. Hardwood, softwood, metal, fiberboard and polystyrene are some of the choices.
  3.  The color of the finish and whether it compliments the painting.
  4.  The size of the profile. A 1” wide profile is generally not good for an 20 x 30” frame, unless special reinforcing is added. A 1 1/2” wide frame or wider is a better choice. The frame needs to support the weight of the glass, mat and artwork.
  5.  The mat – The color of the mat should support the overall look of the painting in the frame. Mats with texture can  complement the painting and set the tone for the style of the work or complement room furnishings.
  6. It is best to try out different combinations of frame and mat next to the artwork before making a decision.

Example of a pleasing frame arrangement

The Yellow Sunflower painting by Karen LeGault has some very strong blacks in it. The white of the paper is not a true white. The client wanted a glossy white frame to match the trim in her house. I transitioned the white frame with a warm yellow range silk mat. It is a neutral yellow, not bright. The silk mat gives a sense of texture and understated elegance.


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