The Art of Framing

Framing is an art in itself. Framing is important for the artist in order to protect the artwork for the future and for the buyer, but also as an artist you will appreciate how a perfectly chosen frame and mat will enhance your finished piece. The right frame sets off the work of art, bringing out the colours, textures, and composition.

Not every work of art needs to be framed. For contemporary block-mounted canvas paintings which have been wrapped around thick stretcher bars and secured to the back rather than the sides of those bars there is no need. This mounting leaves the sides of the canvas smooth, neat and free of visible staples or tacks. Artists using this type of canvas mount should continue the painting around the sides or simply paint the sides a complementary neutral

Here are a few things to consider about fine art framing.

Material

Frames come in every material you can think of, and when you get a piece of art framed you need to consider which material will work best with the artwork.

A painting’s style should suggest the frame style. For example, a painting of classical subject matter is well suited to a timeless, traditional, gold-leafed frame or a handsome walnut or mahogany wood frame. Lighter, ethereal, or more abstract paintings may look best in sleek, less fussy frames. And for paintings that are in-between, there are transitional frames—those that blend elements of the traditional and the contemporary.

Matting and Mounting

The mount is the board which sits directly behind the artwork which will be hinged or taped to the mount in some way. A good mount is essential to the preservation of the work because it is the mount touches the whole of the work. Using acid free mounts lengthens the life of the paper and in most cases combined with an acid free mat it will insure that the artwork will not deteriorate over time.

The mat is a board of varying materials that has a “window” cut into it for the purpose of isolating the image inside for a better viewing experience. Some works of art, particularly smaller ones, benefit from a mount that adds an additional dimension to the entire framing project.

Neutral-coloured mat-boards generally make the work stand out best. However, rather avoid snow-white matting which tends to be dazzling and therefore distracting. If you want to introduce colour, consider double-matting. The coloured mat should be placed beneath the neutral mat and the windows of the two mats should be cut so only about 5mm of colour is showing.

Colour

The colour of the frame subtly brings out the colours in the piece, either enhancing it or blending in so seamlessly you never even notice the frame is there. Frames can also help to add texture to your artwork.

Glass options

First and foremost, glass protects works on paper from dust and other pollutants, but it can also serve other important functions:

Regular glass is the type most commonly used. It’s scratch-resistant but breaks easily in transportation and only filters out about half of the damaging ultraviolet (UV) light rays.

Conservation glazing is a coating applied to glass that offers 97 percent UV protection but museum glass is the ultimate—so clear and glare-free that you can’t see it at all when you stand in front of a painting. It also provides the best UV protection. This glass is of course very expensive.

Acrylic glazing, also known by the trade name Plexiglas, is much lighter than glass. It is virtually shatter proof, although it scratches easily. Acrylic provides about 60 percent UV protection. Regular glass cleaners may leave the surface looking foggy, so in general is not really recommended for fine art works.

Above are some of my framed artworks showing a double mat (off-white over black) within a very simple black frame which compliments the simplicity of these floral watercolours. Of course, once glassed, it’s very hard to take a good photograph of the actual work itself!

Left: ‘A Touch of Cerise’ 360 x 480mm, R 2700,00
Top right: ‘White Enchantment’ 370 x 390mm, R 2500,00
Bottom R:  ‘Fields of White’ 470mm x 360mm, R 2700,00

 

 

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