Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Painting Marathon Advice: Framing and Mounting

Considerations for Framing,
Mounting and Hanging a Painting

Should you frame at all? There are actually quite a few factors which come into play as you consider how you want to deal with your newly purchased painting.

First gather information about which materials the artist used to create the painting. If this is not listed in the program verify with the artist what types of paints and painting surface they used: Paints typically are oil-based, acrylic, watercolors, or ink; surfaces are often canvas or paper--keep in mind there are several grades and levels of quality for each of these.

Since you are going to want your painting to hang on the wall for many years to come you will want to take those actions which are going to help preserve the work. What do you do?

Does your painting need stretching? Stretching is considered a separate function from framing and you will want the artwork taut so it can be framed and displayed properly. Framers may not want to deal with a painting not properly stretched first. Will you need backing? What type of framing?

For an oil painting, as long as it is securely fastened to a stretcher, it might be fine without a frame. Contemporary paintings often use what is called a “floater” frame. This means the sides will still be visible after completion. Be careful here to attach this frame in such a way that you won’t damage the painting upon removing it later.

Is backing necessary? There are several types of acid free foam or corrugated board available and some recommend you cut holes in them first in order to facilitate having the painting breathe. If the painting surface is resilient, like canvas, you may not want backing. This is again where proper stretching becomes important.

Will you need protection from light—a common source of damage? Watercolors are especially sensitive and you can choose to shield your artwork with either glass or plexi-glass.

Want to put the frame together yourself? You will save money by buying a “do it yourself framing kit” from the web or by dropping into one of your local “do it yourself framing stores” (where you might also get helpful advice from the clerk or proprietor). Of course, if you feel insecure about doing everything yourself you can find professionals to help you. If your painting was expensive, this might be a wise choice.

Another consideration for framing: Did the artist paint right to the edge of the canvas, use a 3-dimensional setup (where the painting continues right to the wall edge as part of a box-like configuration which stands out from the wall) or did they leave unpainted canvas along the edges?

How do I pick a frame that looks right? Make sure the color of the frame enhances or compliments the colors used in the painting itself. Whether you choose a wood frame or metal frame or no frame also depends on the art itself. Does a frame with thick edges overshadow the effect of the painting?

When preparing to hang a painting, holes should be drilled around 25% down when measured from the top. The wire should be measured for the width of the canvas plus 6-8 inches and needs to be thick enough to bear the weight of the painting.

Helpful Resource: "The Artist’s Handbook," by Ralph Mayer

Framing tips at


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