I've Been Framed

By Joseph Pubillones

March 23, 2019 4 min read

You may have pondered before how best to create a gallery-style wall filled with different pieces of art, or even just select a singular work of art to display above your couch. Many consider hanging art to be a burden. Perhaps they consider the "where to start" as the hard part, or maybe they lack the correct tools. Nine out of ten times, the answer is a little bit of both. Another aspect that stumps most homeowners and art collectors is framing. Is there a correct way to frame art? Well, like most aesthetic decisions, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

But before you get carried away at a frame shop, let's take a moment to consider visiting a museum or an art gallery. Every decision an artist makes with reference to a work of art is deliberate, and therefore, framing art should also be given careful thought. Frames are meant to enhance, highlight and protect works of art. In most instances, the frame should not be in competition with the art.

Frames, generally speaking, should keep in line with the period and style of the art. For example, an 18th-century Dutch oil painting of flowers should be in a traditional frame, perhaps a frame with some gilding that enhances the colors of the flowers. In the same manner, a contemporary abstract painting should be in a simple frame or liner that does not detract from the work.

Another important consideration when framing art is where you will eventually hang the work. I always ask my clients to take a few photos of the room in which the piece will be placed, measure the room dimensions and bring a swatch of the wall color. It's important that the finished piece doesn't fight with its surroundings.

Aside from the aesthetic consideration, I also ask where the work will be hung for its protection. If the work of art is being exhibited in a controlled environment, that is one thing. However, if it is in a space with doors or windows that are opened regularly, certain protective measures should be taken. This may involve adding a glass or plexiglass covering to your frame or making sure that the framing materials, such as backing and mat boards, are acid-free and mold resistant.

Tips for framing:

1. The selected frame should always be skinnier than the mat.

2. No paper mats should be used on canvases. If there is a need for expanding the dimension of the art, use a fabric-wrapped liner and then a frame.

3. Select a frame that works well with the work of art rather than try to match the frame of another piece that will hang close by. Your hanging location may change.

4. When grouping several art pieces, use different frames unless you are doing similar prints or a series of art in the same size.

5. It's OK to use several tones or colors of frames, even though they may hang side by side.

6. Rules are meant to be broken. Don't be afraid to frame a contemporary piece or a photograph with an ornate frame.

7. Some works, especially canvases, are OK to be left unframed. The edges may be unfinished and dappled with brushstrokes and paint, but there is a certain charm to it and an insight into how the artist works.

8. Matte black and matte white frames are very popular in galleries today. This look is great with photographic works.

9. Frames are expensive — sometimes just as much as the work itself — so choose to outlast any trend.

10. When in doubt about a mat, keep it simple and stick to a neutral color. White, off-white, beige or light gray make for good choices.

Joseph Pubillones is the owner of Joseph Pubillones Interiors, an award-winning interior design firm based in Palm Beach, Florida. His website is www.josephpubillones.com. To find out more about Joseph Pubillones and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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