Monday, December 22

Thoughts on Framing Paintings and Artwork

Today’s Image

Today’s Image is the corner of a picture frame. At some point most artists want to share, show, sell, or give away their artwork, right? One of the things I’ve wondered about since renewing my interest in art and painting is: how, or even if, you should frame your paintings. Or maybe that decision should be at the tail end of the process. That is, should you think about the frame as you begin painting your picture or even before? I don’t know, and I suspect there is no right or wrong answer. However, here are some of my thoughts on the subject.

At first, of course, I wasn’t thinking about frames or framing at all. That was back when I was sketching with graphite and pastels. I was renewing my skills, and none of my artwork was suitable for framing. But I did move on to acrylics and oil painting and finished several that I decided to give as gifts. For those first few I decided not to frame them at all. They were relatively small, 5 x 7in (12 x 17 cm), and painted on canvas panel, so instead I bought small easels that would hold them on a shelf or tabletop rather than framing them for hanging. Truth be told, I also used the small easels so that the recipients could place them wherever they wanted—way up on a shelf behind something else or back in a corner somewhere—in case they really didn’t like the paintings anyway and were too polite to say so. The last thing artists need is pity or insecurity, right?

As time went on my paintings increased in both size and number and my self-consciousness decreased, somewhat anyway. I decided some of the paintings needed framing. At art galleries and art festivals some of the paintings were framed and some were not. With no scientific research whatsoever, it appears to me that the more contemporary the painting, the less likely it is to be framed and vice-versa.

Currently most of my paintings are on canvases with edges of .5 in (1.3 cm), and others are on canvas panel with no edge. I try to at least consider the frame as I go about my painting. I’m trying to keep a stock of frames on hand so that I don’t have to specifically search one out specifically. I suppose if the painting were ‘extra special’ to me anyway, I would want to have the perfect frame, but that hasn’t happened yet. So I look for frame sales at art supply stores and frame shops. I also go to yard or garage sales or swap meets (or whatever they’re called in your part of the world). I often find very nice frames that you can re-use (of course, I usually throw away the old print or painting).

Have you noticed that on almost all the paintings you see in galleries or at festivals that are not framed, most all have paint that continues around the edges of the canvas (rather than unpainted edges)? These canvases all have edges of at least 1.5 in (3.8 cm). In a way I understand this. It certainly looks more finished, but is that reality? Life doesn’t really wrap around the edges so that you view it around the corner so to speak. I also noticed that art supply stores sold canvases just for this type of unframed painting—it’s called ‘gallery wrapped.’ Why, I don’t know. I have not painted a ‘gallery wrapped’ painting yet although I did buy such a canvas. I suppose one makes the decision (to paint around the edges) up front as framing one of the ‘gallery wrapped’ canvases would be difficult to say the least.

Here’s a question to ponder—do you paint the bottom edge in the event the viewer should lean over to see if it’s been painted? Hmmm, I wonder.


1 comment:

  1. If you are to put on display a painting on stretched canvas that is unframed, most Art exhibits or fairs require that the edges be painted, usually in black, sepia or some other dark colour. I have seen some artworks, in local art fairs especially, where the artists continued the painting around the edge, but I’ve never seen that in professional galleries where the sides are always black or dark. Painted sides give the painting a clean and professional look because if most painters are anything like me; the sides are rarely pure white when I’m done with a painting, but rather is a multi-coloured mush.

    Gallery wrap canvases have the staples on the back of the canvas instead of on the sides. (see: Some Art exhibits and fairs will refuse non-framed artworks on non-gallery-wrap canvas. Others will accept them, but only if you put tape on the sides to hide the staples that can be hard to cover with paint.

    Thicker Gallery wrapped canvases (3/4 inch thick more) are to be displayed without a frame. However sometimes a painting without a frame that looks great at the gallery may not fit-in so well with your home décor or it can look smallish next to big furniture.