Are Your Struggling to Frame Your Artwork?
If you’re struggling to frame a painting, it might be because you are too busy thinking like an artist, not a framer. Luckily, having framed Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, FA Pollak’s Alexander Roeder knows a thing or two about getting a painting ready to display
1. Frames can be used to create a personal visual identity. For example, the Kit Kat Club, a 19th century gentleman’s club, had their own frame design for all pictures inside the club. However, you can never copyright a frame design. We tried it in the 1960s and it doesn’t work – all someone has to do is change the design a tiny bit.
2 Why not try putting various pictures in one frame? We recently worked on a few small teacup prints – they were in a long frame with a mount and six openings. It worked well and added variety.
3 An ostentatious frame can make the painting look more important and there are some people who just want something expensive-looking on the wall. It’s funny because collectors will look at a painting and not want to make it look expensive whereas a dealer always will. The worth of a painting doesn’t interest me but the age of a painting does – as it’s good to get a period frame to suit.
4 What picture should go in what frame is partly down to perception. People think Impressionist paintings should be in busy, small and thick frames, but they are only in those because the dealer selling the first few had them lying around at the time. You can use this to your advantage – create a Victorian look with something austere or linear, for example.
5 Some people want a thin frame but it can make it look as if it has been framed as an afterthought. Don’t use thin frames with very small artwork because it will look weedy – you need a thicker frame and it should be bevelled, to draw your eye in.
6 For landscapes, try to avoid frames with too many lines on them. You might want to go for something curvy instead, that leads the eye into the picture, rather than something flat.
7 When it comes to mounting, never choose a colour that you’d find in the picture. People always make that mistake: “There’s red in the picture, I must use a red mount!” It’s just wrong. Your eyes will be drawn to the red of the mount and it will kill all other colour. The trick is to compliment, not copy. Using a neutral colour, like cream, often works really well. We do a lot of silk mounts, too – they are popular and look good.
8 Modern prints nowadays are always printed with a lot of paper around the image so you can often save money and use this as a built-in mount. Tray or box frames are a good bet for more modern paintings – they are good ways of containing a picture so it doesn’t just blend into the wall.
9 Learn how to stretch your canvases properly if you want them framed properly. Canvas gives. If you stretch your own canvases make sure they are straight and you use the wedges. All canvases have wedges in a packet on the back of the stretcher and the whole point of these is to be used – they are designed to help stop the canvas from sagging and going out of shape.
10 Glass can be expensive so choose only what you really need. There are lots of different types, from bog-standard float glass upwards. There’s a coated glass with chemical on each side that is good. It’s low reflecting and if you hang it correctly and light it well, you won’t even see the glass. Then there’s the museum standard, which is low reflecting but also stops UV light. You can get this from most good framers, it’s just very expensive.
11 Oil paintings don’t need glazing. People used to glaze them because there was more smog and smoky fires. These days we are far more hermetically sealed and people don’t smoke as much, so it’s not necessary.
12 My failsafe frame is oak. A decent, not-too-thin wood frame can go round pretty much everything and you can change the colour with waxing. However, each individual picture must be considered separately.