6 Tips For Choosing the Perfect Picture Frame For Your Piece

It’s one thing to find the perfect print, photograph, poster or original work of art. You are drawn to it, it speaks volumes to you and you somehow know that ‘this is the one’. With that said, knowing how to select a suitable frame can sometimes seem like an artform in itself. There are a few points to consider when selecting a frame for your piece.

1. The landscape 

Whether you are displaying a classic Norman Lindsay, or just some cool black and white photographs courtesy of an art school buddy, there’s an array of frames online to select from. But, how to best understand the principles of aesthetics that will lead you to the right choice in order to preserve and display your collection?

Also, thrown into the mix are important practical considerations and the ‘tools of the trade’. Therefore, it’s always best to seek out the services of a professional when framing any cherished piece of art.

2. The blank canvas

One of the biggest indicators of what should drive your selection in terms of a frame for any given piece of art are the materials that the work is created on ie. canvas, paper or some other medium. Also, some pieces will come ‘stretched’ on a canvas on a wooden frame and/or ‘gallery wrapped’.

Sometimes, they might be fashioned on a flat piece of material or paper. In other instances the piece will be intact with the original framing. The state in which an artwork comes to you will strongly influence the process in which you might set about framing it.

2. The backdrop

Particularly when framing artworks on paper, you will need to consider that these are very susceptible to the elements and general wear and tear. This is described as ‘lightweight art’. This applies to photos as well as prints etc. produced on paper and similar flimsy materials subject to warping/buckling.

Mounting photos and framing them not only protects them, it also provides the perfect visual display – pulling these pieces into utmost focus. Always ensure that you avoid displaying sensitive pieces –  such as watercolours and mixed media – in direct sunlight.   

3. The medium

It’s important to note that not every artwork needs – or, even should – be framed. The inherent quality of an original oil/acrylic painting is that it does not require the same treatment as a work on paper or any other lightweight form. Sometimes a work might come to you with a frame that was created by the artist.

Naturally, you would steer away from making any changes to this for posterity’s sake – any respectful art collector worth his or her salt would display a lack of artistic appreciation in committing this faux pas.

4. The method

They type of artwork and the medium used will determine suitable options when it comes to framing. There are two common methods of framing. The first is a traditional frame where the canvas painting sits to the inner edge of the frame (what’s called the ‘lip’).

A floating frame is another option.

The canvas is mounted through the front of the painting – it sits on top of the frame and gives the appearance of ‘floating’. This is particularly beneficial to fragile works, as there is no risk of damaging the original piece.

5. The process

Somewhere along the process of framing a piece of art, the question of matting comes into the picture. This creates an additional border between the work and the frame itself. You would, of course, have seen this performed to good effect in highlighting tonal elements. This is well-suited to photographic works, providing that extra focal point for the viewer.

It’s a matter of taste and choice whether matting is required, but typically is is not a feature of original artworks on canvas. These are dignified by the use of moulding (a technical terms for fine framing) – and, this is what you would most commonly see used in an art gallery.

6. The pallette

Any fine artwork is given depth by the use tones and texture.

Framing should always complement these elements. The advice of those in the field is ‘always let the art lead’. Never let a frame detract from a piece’s visual statement and story. Clean whites are the understated go-to when displaying a collection of traditional art. More contemporary works eg. abstract pieces and those influenced by the Pop art movement might be suited to bolder and more modern textures in framing. The point is to match the aesthetic of the work and pay it due respect.

In the frame

Take the time to properly select the correct frame in order to protect your art for many years to come. Do it once and do it well. The perfect frame should always enhance what you are displaying and never distract the viewer. In a lot of ways, art is passion and art is life, and such it should always be treated with a strong duty of care. With attention to detail, and the advice and service of an expert you will afford your collection the esteem it deserves.


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