View Full Version : Let's see your . . .

Kathryn Wilson
03-22-2004, 04:06 PM
favorite frames. I've got a bunch of paintings I need to mat and frame and at a loss to a good all-round style that will go with most anything I paint and that will be suitable for most people's decor (I know they probably will change them out, but need to have something that is not a big turn-off either.)

When you do a gallery hanging - are all the frames supposed to be alike?? Or variety better?

Any input will be appreciate by more than just moi - :D

03-22-2004, 05:01 PM
Well Kat had to take a stroll around my walls and in the frame bin. Found most of my paintings pastel, oil, acrylic and gouache are in metal frames with mats and wooden linen liner frames. I stick pretty close to natural wood walnut, oak and pine. My metal frames are gold, silver, black and bronze. I don't have any ornate framed work...one of my favorites in the woods is a light oak museum frame then I either add a single or double off white matt.
I also love those new white frames with linen liners that are so popular now. If you get Graphik Dimensions LTD. they are who I use for most all of my frames. They put out a really nice catalog and they will send you sample frame corners. Also they have what they call a 'Personal Frame Shop' it a virtual framing tool that allows you to view your options before you buy.
www.pictureframes.com :D No I don't own stock in the company just think they have a good product.

03-22-2004, 05:47 PM
Good thread, Kat! I will take some quick photos later but I have another question regarding framing. Do you all put paper on the back of the frames when you are done?
I feel as if it is much more finished and professional looking with brown paper on the back. But...it is one more step and although you can always remove the paper, it means if you decide you want to use the frame later for something else it is a pain. I have noticed that a lot of people don't bother. Just curious, what is the norm?


Kathryn Wilson
03-22-2004, 08:10 PM
Thanks Sandy and Kathleen for your feedback on frames. I'm hoping that others will join in on this thread - I think it could be helpful to alot of other people too.

Sandy, I know what you mean about that brown paper. I would be alot easier if you could change out frames quickly if a client wants something different.

Deborah Secor
03-22-2004, 08:32 PM
That paper on the back of wood frames is there for more than neatness. It keeps out stray dust and bugs--what, you say this isn't a problem where you live? Well, I live in the land of adobe (freely translated: DIRT) so dust and bugs are worth considering. I don't make a drumtight paper backing any more--it just gets torn too easily. Now I push the paper down around the back of the frame and tape it across the back of the back mat. It looks neat, keeps out the nasties and doesn't tear easily. Hint: buy an ATG gun and double sided tape, which makes the whole process a cinch. There's also a technique for cutting the edge of the paper on the back that's a cinch. I'll try to shoot photos of it for you, as words won't do it.

I advise my students to tape the edges of the back mat, mat, painting and glass all the way around from front to back with framers tape so that even with metal frames the package is secure from dust and bugs.

In the last 20 years of painting I've come to the point where I use one color mat (antique white), double mat with a 3/8" reveal, make the mats 3", 4", and 5" depending on the size of the painting, and always use a simple gold box or half round wooden frame, again in different widths for different size pieces. Then no matter where they hang they flatter the decor. I've seen them in very contemporary homes with neutrals all around, in Shaker settings, among antiques, and on adobe walls and they fit. I think of framing as packaging. Simple, elegant, neutral, attractive, finished and professional. Only occasionally will I use anything but white mats--if the painting has whiter whites or nothing in it that's light enough to justify whites.

I served on a panel at the IAPS convention a while back in which we talked about matting, frming and shipping. The report is on my web page, in case you want to see it. It's toward the bottom of the page. http://www.deborahchristensen.homestead.com/pastel_talk.html (http://)

Hope this helps. I'll see what photos I can come up with too.


03-22-2004, 08:53 PM
Kat, when I held my first exhibition last year, I left everything in the hands of my local framer, who by the way is also a well exhibited artist, so I trusted his judgement over mine, I started choosing coloured mounts and different styles of frames, he stopped me dead in my tracks, he talked and I listened.

He did a fine job, everything gelled, the mounts in the main were neutral. i.e. cream or ivory, and the frames were simple, nothing fancy, a slim frame in either gold/silver or black, whichever suited the painting, when they were arranged on the walls it looked so professional, if it was left to me I realise now I would have fallen down on the overall look of the exhibiton, so I would say aim for unity, for maximum impact.


Maggie P
03-22-2004, 11:06 PM
I like unity, also. I like to have everything in one show exhibited in the same type of frame. The unity of frame moulding focuses the eye on the artwork.

I'm currently using two methods with the same moulding. Small paintings (7x10 and under) get a 2" mat. Larger paintings are framed with no mat and museum (no glare, no reflection, UV protection) glass with a spacer holding the pastel painting away from the glass. I like the way they look as a group. The small paintings achieve a presence because the mat gives them a bigger frame. The larger ones, at a distance, are indistinguishable from oil paintings because you can't see the glass. So the viewer looks at the subject first, instead of thinking, oh that's a work under glass. But the unity of frame moulding holds the group together.

I use gold leaf wooden mouldings. I think gold is good because it goes with everything. If you use dark wood, surely the buyer will say their furniture is light colored wood and if you use light wood the reverse is true. Gold goes with everything. In my opinion wood looks more expensive and rich than metal frames. I've never had a buyer reject a painting because of the frame (so far, knock on wood, ha ha).

It's more fun to talk about framing than to do it, but it is a necessary evil.

03-23-2004, 12:25 AM
My current standard
seamless linen liners
frame space
museum glass
gold frame
pic shot at my dealers (who paid for framing)

03-23-2004, 06:10 AM
This is a nice thread! Interesting to see that some do actually use similar frames for their stuff purposely.
I am just always on the lookout for nice frames and try to match a frame with the picture. I always use antique white/cream/champagne mountboard and when I use a double mount sometimes another colour. Recently I started to lean towards a double mount in the same creamy colour. Quite plain, but nice. Frames are difficult and I frame towards what the potential customer would like.
So for my waterlilies, which are on display soon, I chose a golden frame (a bit too gold for my taste) as I think the visitors to the display will like that. I personally like wooden frames, simple and natural. But usually I talk to clients and decide together.....



Kathryn Wilson
03-23-2004, 08:40 AM
Oh, good, photos! Thanks for all the great information on framing - let me go back through the posts and think on what I see and hear. It sounds like similar framing is a good idea in a gallery -

Next question - even before painting, do you make sure that your paper is an appropriate size for framing keeping in mind that custom framing is more expensive. I've been trying to do that to keep my costs down so that I can reasonably price my paintings.

Dan - It's so nice to see all those wonderful paintings spread around in the photo - thanks for the photo!

Sophie - I really like how your lily looks in that gold frame and the larger mat. How large was the original before matting and framing?

This Forum is always so helpful - :clap:

03-23-2004, 08:43 AM
do you make sure that your paper is an appropriate size for framing keeping in mind that custom framing is more expensive

I do that whenever possible. Sometimes I just start and forget to plan that and sometimes I do plan but end up wanting to crop but I try to make it so I can use a good quality, acid free, ready made mat and frame. Doesn't always work.
Super thread...it's good to see what people are doing. It does look like all the professionals do it pretty simply...which makes sense.
I'll try to post some of mine later but these are better! :D


03-23-2004, 08:53 AM
Kat, the lily picture above is 10x11. The frame is 13x16 (glass size). The mat is quite wide as I wanted to frame all three lily paintings in the same frame, so they would make a nice series. This is the smallest of the three, so it had a wide mat. Let's see if I can show you the others....hang on.

Oh, and I don't paint to standard sizes. I cut my own mats and do use standard size frames often, so the mat sizes vary.


Kathryn Wilson
03-23-2004, 09:02 AM
Thanks Sophie - that's impressive to see all three like that - now I can see what Maggie and Dee were talking about - minimal, similar framing takes the mind off the framing and focuses on the painting. They look elegant, Sophie!

03-23-2004, 09:06 AM
Thanks Kat! But I don't always believe in similar framing. Only here because the pictures from an obvious set. All my other paintings have a different frame each and I don't think about if they would fit together or something.
Also, simplicity......lol....these lilies were quite simple with only a single mat as there was no space for a double. But I usually frame with a double as you can see in the other pictures.

So Sandy, show us your pictures!

It is funny to see people's taste...and yet we are all trying to sell.....lol...sometimes it is difficult to estimate the buyer's taste.

03-23-2004, 12:57 PM
Ooooo kyle! Didn't know what this was going to be when I saw the title...! :D

I quite like a dull mat in a sort of brown colour. It seems to work on a variety of frames...
But I guess it depends on your painting......


03-23-2004, 01:03 PM
Okay...here are some of the ones I have been working on recently. There are a couple here with "not white" mats...this is unusual for me but I ended up with all this nice mat board from an estate I cleared and I figured some of the pastel ones were not bad. I have been using simpler and simpler frames but sometimes I find an interesting one wiht a little design and use it. Seeing how nice all these look in the thread with the really simple ones, though, makes me see that they are better.
Except...Graphik Dimensions had a sale on these funky fancy ones recently and I had to frame the 2 paisley paintings I did and I thought it would be fun to use them...I think they work but who knows if anyone will buy any of this stuff anyhow.
Oh...the 2 large ones, the farmer's market and the big seascape are matted and I have the frames but the glass is not in yet.


Maggie P
03-23-2004, 01:04 PM
Next question - even before painting, do you make sure that your paper is an appropriate size for framing keeping in mind that custom framing is more expensive. I've been trying to do that to keep my costs down so that I can reasonably price my paintings.

I think one of the wonderful advantages of working on surfaces other than canvas is the ability to work in non-standard sizes. Sometimes as I'm working out a composition, I find that 16x20 just doesn't suit the subject, and 13x20 does. If I can make the composition better with a simple size adjustment, I do it! Also, there are times when I've done all I can with a painting and still don't like it, when suddenly I realize that if I just cropped it, it would be good. So again there goes standard sizing.

Currently, my husband is building my frames for me, and doesn't care what sizes I ask for. But for years prior to finally :) getting him to give it a try, I ordered "chop" pieces in the sizes I needed. There are a number of frame dealers that will do this. You get your pieces already cut with mitered corners and simply assemble your frame. It's a bit of work but way less expensive than going to a framer for a custom size.

Question: for those of you that have frames made for you, do you do the assembly yourself? Or pay someone to do it? I've done it myself for years as I just couldn't afford the high cost of framing. By doing the labor, I could invest more in beautiful mouldings so I could end up with an expensive looking frame. What do you do?

03-23-2004, 01:15 PM
Oh, quite a few coloured mats! I am weary of that......so personal....But Lozz's work suits it nicely I think. Sandy, I like that rough silvery frame (1st one). This is really fun to see how everyone does the framing!!
Maggie, I have had so many troubles finding good framers. I am almost at the stage I am going to buy a mitre saw and a framing kit to DIY. But after using local framers (who messed up and charge fortunes) I know buy my frames via catalogues and internet. Those suppliers have standard sizes and do bespoke and they deliver with glass, backboard and flexipins. All I have to do is cut my mat and put it all together.
Earlier it was mentioned to use craft paper at the back of pictures. I usually seal a painting with brown framers tape. Looks good, but a pain to remove if you want to re-use the frame. Thankfully a new layer of tape will hide the ugly tear left overs from the former tape.


03-23-2004, 01:30 PM
rough silvery frame It's actualy a bluish/grey fake driftwood frame. We are planning on hanging this over the mantel in our Maine house and that frame is perfect for the room and looks nice with the painting. I don't think I would do that with something I was planning on displaying at a show, though.


Kathryn Wilson
03-23-2004, 02:54 PM
Wow, this is so fun to see all of the different frames. I am certainly getting the info I need - hope you are too.

Sandy, I think those frames for your paisley paintings are perfect!

Lozz, the middle frame - is that a wood or metal frame - very attractive!

Sophie - I like how the double mat with the dark inner mat looks on your second painting of the asian girls - the frame looks good too.

Next question - when you enter a painting for a show, I am told the mat has to be white/antique white and the frame should be plain. How do you feel about the white mat rule and would the simple gold frames be considered plain enough for a show?

Hope everyone is rating this Thread for future use in the Pastel Library Archives!

03-23-2004, 05:43 PM
Wow, this is a fascinating thread. I have two questions:

1. How many of you cut your own mats?


2. Can anyone post a picture of one of the matless versions? Maggie, I think you mentioned it? I'm just interested to see what they look like -- I'm so used to leaving junk around the edges, thinking "oh, the mat will cover that". :D


Kathryn Wilson
03-23-2004, 06:52 PM
Hi Monica, hubby and I decided that if we were both going to exhibit in the local shows (he is a photographer), we'd better invest in a mat cutter. We bought the medium grade Logan mat cutter system and it works really well.

Now we are thinking of getting the framing tools as well - :D

03-23-2004, 07:03 PM
Check out this thread for spacers and no mats:

Here you can see how a spacer works without a mat:

some without mats - which I regret doing - as I prefer with mat nowadays.

03-23-2004, 08:35 PM
Thanks, Kyle. It does seem a cheaper way to go. Thanks for the examples, Soap. A picture truly is worth a thousand words! :D

03-23-2004, 08:57 PM
This is a terrific thread you've started here Kat, it get's my vote!

I think one of the wonderful advantages of working on surfaces other than canvas is the ability to work in non-standard sizes. Sometimes as I'm working out a composition, I find that 16x20 just doesn't suit the subject, and 13x20 does. If I can make the composition better with a simple size adjustment, I do it! Also, there are times when I've done all I can with a painting and still don't like it, when suddenly I realize that if I just cropped it, it would be good. So again there goes standard sizing.

I so agree with what you say Maggie, I must admit I generally don't think about standard sizes when I paint, just grab sheet of paper and work.
I really like the long narrow canvasses that are available now, bought a few, yet to do anything with them, but they are popular, our Barb did some pastel paintings recently on long bits of "scrap" pieces of pastel paper with great effect. I also generally use masking tape to secure my work whilst working, there is nothing more satisfying than peeling that masking tape away and seeing the clean crisp margin around the finished piece where the mount will go. Does anyone else do this?

I haven't any pics to show right now of frames, will try to take some soon, as for matts for exhibitions, I think the off white, ivory/cream are the best, although a black mount works well with some subjects to give extra impact, especially when grouped together.... with the frames being all or nearly all the same, simple and plain, whatever the colour. I like the thin bevelled gold , silver and black frames for showing.

Deborah Secor
03-23-2004, 09:27 PM
Living as near as we do to Santa Fe may have some affect on this, but have any of the rest of you experienced a snobbishness about metal frames? I've heard reviewers say that they were "just poster frames". Personally I like a simple black metal frame for the occasional painting. I use them for my hummingbirds, since the simplicity of the dark line allows the colors of the painting to float on a wall.

You know, that's part of the frame's reason for being, to separate the image from the wall. Judy Carducci mentioned that the frame either makes the eye stop or allows it to continue onto the wall. Mat color can affect that, as well. The theory is that the mat should never be lighter than the lightest light or darker than the darkest dark in the painting, nor should it be brighter or more detailed. It should support the painting.

The IAPS panel agreed that framing influences jurors and most often that's a negative influence. They recommended that paintings shown in competitions be matted and framed simply, using neutral colors. I know judges will reject a painting because of the framing. It's just too hard to ignore a bad frame and give it a ribbon. Sad but true.

Personally it chaps my hide that there's the university/museum mentality that says colored mats are a cheap attempt to influence a judge, or that the colored mat props up a bad painting, but you can't win in this one--trust me, I tried for years. And at shows (did I mention I did booth shows for over 20 years?) someone always uses the mat color as an excuse to try and get you to drop the price.

I work in 'standard' sizes, but they're my own standards. This came about because over the years I find that I'll change out paintings. Sometimes a piece gets stale after being in a gallery for a while and I have a new one I want to frame so I just remove it, clean up the frame and pop in another painting the same size. I'll even use the mats, as long as they're appropriate for the painting. I can't afford to custom frame every piece. I occasionally add a 'new' standard size to the mix, such as the long slender pieces I do and then I paint to that size so I have a few available for the galleries.

I buy my frames from a local framer who makes them up for me and delivers them with the glass in place. I like supporting the local market and helping out a nice man. He gives me a discount on my frames since I order them in the same sizes and mouldings over and over. In fact, I can call and say, "I need four 19x27"s and he knows the moulding without asking! I cut my own mats on my ancient, well-used mat cutter, and fit everything myself.


03-24-2004, 02:00 PM
Lozz, the middle frame - is that a wood or metal frame - very attractive!

Hi kyle

Its a wooden frame and quite heavy, I got from the open air market last Saturday it just cost 5.00 which isn't bad for round here! It had a Monet print in it, so I asked the seller if he wanted the print back, and he gave be another frame 6x9inch free! Nice man. I shall do business there more often! :)

I cut my own mats. Here's a top tip! I have cut a few small mats out a few inches big which I use just like a view finder but on completed pictures just to see how it will look before I commit to buying and cuting coloured mats.


03-24-2004, 02:14 PM
Oh, quite a few coloured mats! I am weary of that......so personal....But Lozz's work suits it nicely I think.

Thanks SOAP! I figure if I do brown pictures I can't go wrong with brown mats! :D