Artists are continuously challenged by the task of framing. So, first you have to ask yourself, “Do I frame or not?” If you do decide to frame, this leads to many more questions. What color, what size, what width, what style, glass or no glass; all good questions to ask when you contemplate displaying your artwork in a frame.
Framing, basically, comes down to choice. But you have to decide whose choice- yours or your customer. Your choice is easy, but how do you choose a frame for the general public? There are some guidelines to choosing a frame for display, considering the presentation is usually what sells the artwork. The frame choice should complement the artwork and not compete with it. The painting should always be the star of the piece. The style of frame should work with the style of the artwork. A barn wood frame would be suitable for a country landscape, but not a contemporary abstract. A metal frame can look sophisticated and futuristic; while, a plastic frame may seem simple and inexpensive. Color can be determined quite easily if you are hanging the painting in a room with a particular color scheme. However, choosing something suitable, yet generic, is the best advice when you plan to sell your painting.
Some artists avoid the decision by selling the artwork without a frame and leave the choice to the customer. However, it would probably be a good idea to, at least, display the piece in an attractive frame, even if you intend to sell it without one. This allows the interested party to visualize how it would look on their own wall and possibly seal the deal.
Working in standard sized dimensions means you can probably purchase a pre made frame pretty reasonably. However, when you choose to produce odd sized and shaped artwork you may have to resort to custom framing for your masterpiece, which usually adds to the investment. Professional custom framing can be expensive and almost always accounts for about 75% of the artworks value. With this in mind, artists have learned to be creative with ways of displaying their art.
Watercolorists and pastel artists normally use framed glass to protect their vulnerable mediums. They usually choose to frame with UV glass that protects the artwork from the sun’s fading power, but can be very expensive. Other artists, however, choose to mount their watercolors to wooden panels and canvases for displaying without glass. This can save on the expense of framing, but also requires the painting to be treated with acrylic sealers that will protect the surface from dirt and moisture. This technique also changes the look of the artwork, which is not always a desired result.
Oil and acrylic artists, who often use the same styles of frames without glass, have the same dilemma of framing or not framing their artwork. Not framing saves a bundle, but may not suit the artwork, making it look and seem unfinished. Presentation is everything and this choice can determine whether a painting sells or not. Artists who work predominately with extra deep canvases will usually hang the painting with no frame at all. This is attractive and very acceptable, if the canvases are larger pieces of more than two feet long or wide. Smaller paintings, typically, need some type of frame to add substance to the artwork.
The option of framing an oil or acrylic painting can become an expensive one, especially, when the canvases are oversized and extra deep. Standard pre-made frames have an average depth capacity of about ¼ in to 1 in. However, back stapled, gallery wrapped canvases are typically 1 ½ in deep, requiring custom framing, which adds to the already costly expense.
One solution for framing moderately sized, extra deep canvases is to use a float frame. The concept is simple; the canvas is viewed from the front without the face of the frame overlapping, thus, exposing the natural edges of the artwork. Float Frames are not a new concept; however, they have become a very popular way to display extra deep canvases. The widening use of gallery wrapped canvases, make float frames a great choice for artists who want to display the full front of their painting. It is also not completely necessary to finish the sides of the painting, as it would be, if you were to hang it without a frame.
A Float frame is a simple shallow wood box that is about ½ in. bigger on each side than the canvas it is intended to hold. The back is open; therefore, you can see the back of the canvas as well. This is helpful when positioning the canvas in order to attach the painting to the float frame. There are three basic ways a canvas can be mounted to a float frame: screwing the painting directly to the frame from the back, using off-set clips to attach to the frame, or the use of a hook and loop tape to fasten the canvas to the float frame. The hook and loop method is especially useful when you are selling the painting without the frame, thus, giving you the ability to reuse the frame for display purposes. Choose the method that suits your needs.
The float frame is a new addition to the Cheap Joe’s family. The face is only about 3/8 of an inch, with the depth being a full 2 inches. The extra depth allows the excess bulk of a back stapled canvas to fit perfectly without causing it to protrude passed the face of the frame. It comes in standard finishes of white, black, and natural maple. It is also available in several standard sizes to accommodate popular square and rectangle dimensions. When ordering float frames from Cheap Joe’s, you should choose the same size as your canvas and the frame you receive will allow a ½ “ float space between the canvas and the frame face. These frames are a smart choice and are very economical.
So “to frame or not to frame” seems to be the first question. After that, the choice is limitless. The style and personality of the artwork is enhanced and expressed by the use of frames. Take a chance, do something fun, and wild or… not. The choice is yours. Have a Happy Frame Day!