Posts Tagged ‘picture framing’

Framing for Optimal Presentation

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

Although the choice of frame is important when getting ready to display a painting, for optimal presentation, a mat or liner is often incorporated as well. There is a practical, as well as an aesthetic reason for this. Particularly for certain mediums, such as watercolor and pastels, it is imperative to keep the art from coming into direct contact with any glass covering. Otherwise, the moisture from condensation can cause irreparable damage to the work. A mat or other spacer is needed to maintain a safe distance between the art and the glazing. The larger the painting is, the more radically any moisture can cause the underlying paper surface to swell and buckle, so the farther it must be spaced from the glazing.   This is the practical purpose for using multiple mats. And aesthetically, double or triple mats usually look more “finished” than single mats, as in the example below.

 IMG_0361---watercolor-with-The inner, brown mat on this watercolor provides greater depth than just a single mat would while serving much the same visual purpose as a fillet.

For the same reason, a linen liner is often used in place of a mat when framing a paper print or giclee of an oil or acrylic painting. It acts as a spacer between the print and the frame or any protective glazing. Original oils and acrylics on canvas may use liners but are often framed without them. Unlike works on paper, stretched canvas should not be covered with glass nor have the back sealed with a dust cover, in order to allow the canvas to breathe. This helps prevent spotting and mildew damage resulting from moisture trapped within the framing. (UV protective glazing is often used over prints as well as other works on paper to minimize any color deterioration from light exposure.)

If you choose to use neither mat nor liner, spacers may be used to separate the art from any glass covering. Spacers are simply narrow strips inserted, usually out of sight, along the inner edges of the frame window.

It’s easy to misjudge the color of a mat or frame in relation to the colors in the painting if you aren’t working under good lighting conditions. “Daylight” or “full-spectrum” bulbs are “cooler” in color than typical incandescent indoor lighting and will affect colors differently. So it’s best to work in the type of lighting you anticipate will be used where the art will be displayed.

If premade frames (of any size) are available, they can be photographed, and a digital image of the painting can be superimposed into the frame’s window as a kind of preview of how the framed painting could appear. Several such images can be put up on the same computer screen for comparison. It isn’t necessary to maintain exact proportions in the painting to achieve a fair impression of the effect, but the closer you can get, the more easily you’ll be able to judge how the finished product will appear.  You can size the frame up or down, and include a mat or liner in the image, as well. Otherwise, frame, liner, and mat samples or corners can be used to get an idea about how the finished frame might appear on the artwork.

To increase the impact of small canvasses, they can be presented with wide borders, either in a wide frame (with or without a mat or liner) or by incorporating a wide mat or liner within a narrow frame. The risk in that case is that the painting can become overwhelmed by too elaborate a presentation.

 IMG_0356---oil-painting-witThis preconstructed frame includes both a linen liner and a gold-toned fillet.

Large artworks, on the other hand, can more easily withstand the competition of an attention-grabbing frame because the painting covers a greater proportion of the overall presentation.

Although they are selected separately from the frame itself, any matting, linen liners, or fillets become part of the overall framing bundle and should be included when looking at the frame presentation in relation to the art itself. I try to avoid pairing frames and mats or liners that are the same width, finding that the presentation is more attractive when these widths vary. The bottom edge of a mat is sometimes left wider than the other three sides to offer visual weight to the overall appearance. I don’t usually feel a need to do this, but for specific situations, I consider it.

A fillet (a very narrow inner edging frame) can also add an attractive finishing touch to either a mat or a liner, but it certainly isn’t necessary.  Notice the effect of the fillet in the second illustration above.  In lieu of a linen liner, double or triple matting in either the same or different colors, and staggered at the window edge, can create a similar effect, as in the first illustration.

Framing My Thoughts

Sunday, November 15th, 2015

“What kind of framing treatment will show this painting to its best advantage?” It’s a question that arises with every painting I complete. And it’s one that deserves considerable thought.   This time I’ll talk about my philosophy regarding how I select frames. In coming posts I’ll lead you through my thought process as I consider how to frame a specific piece.

The first guideline I follow is to frame the art, not try to coordinate with the room where it will be shown. As an artist, that’s not a difficult approach to take. First, I want to show the art to its best advantage. Second, I don’t know who will acquire it or in what kind of situation it will be displayed. For this latter reason, I tend to keep the framing comparatively neutral colored and of conservative design so it can look good in a wide range of settings.

My board of some 2" samples of frame mouldings

A reference board of 2″ samples of frame mouldings

I next consider the subject matter and the audience it is most likely to appeal to … and how that will relate to my framing choices. I also consider the size and proportions of the artwork and the color harmony within the composition. Both of these elements will affect the presentation.

Simple frames with clean lines are often recommended for cityscapes, abstracts, poster-type prints, and other “modern” subjects. The ubiquitous, lower-priced metal frames are so often used for these paintings that the frame quality must be kept high to avoid making the presentation look cheap and clichéed. And there’s no reason such subjects cannot be framed in a very different manner. These days, large canvases are often presented either entirely unframed (the edges being painted either as a continuation of the main surface image or black to provide the effect of a visual frame from an angled view) or in float frames, which also offer a clean, non-distracting, but richer looking presentation for the art.

Subtle paintings call for subtle framing

Subtle paintings call for subtle framing

Much of my own work is of natural settings, which lends itself to the look of wooden mouldings in subtle tones that coordinate with the colors in the composition. I rarely want the frame to call attention to itself with stronger or more saturated colors than those within the artwork. Still-lifes are often ensconced in more elaborate frames, mimicking an older, European style of presentation. Elaborate frames can either enhance or overpower a simply designed composition, so the framer needs to carefully evaluate its effect.

A frame’s style can reflect or enhance the type of subject matter the art depicts, whether, for instance, traditional (perhaps with metallic tones and more elaborate patterning in the frame), or a specialized or localized subject, for which special shapes, textures, and treatments may be appropriate.

Next time I’ll talk about ways to enhance a frame to make the most of a painting.