View Full Version : Anyone do really BIG paintings?

09-24-2005, 05:15 PM
I mean like 2'x4' or something like that. I work really small, 8"x10" usually. Mostly so I can scan in my finished piece to make prints. But I just got some old wood frames, big ones. And have the urge to go big! :rolleyes: But working in soft pastels I would hate to think of the weight of a piece that size under glass. So.. does anyone do big pastels? Do you use real glass in framing? are there better alternatives? I have tried a plastic type thing that came with some frames I ordered and it attracts the pastel like a magnet!

Carol M

09-24-2005, 06:13 PM
You might ask Kitty Wallis how she frames her painting...they are huge sometimes...40X60" and the like. I THINK she said she has to use plexiglas due to the weight or else has to build a special hanging arrangement on the wall to support glass. A lot of people do use plexi by spraying it on the inside with anti-static spray and then when dry, putting the painting up against the plexi without spacers or mat. Might be a good idea to try variations of those idea on something smaller and see how it goes.

Other than that, I'm fresh out of ideas. :D

Deborah Secor
09-24-2005, 08:15 PM
I thought of Kitty right away, too. I think she does use plexi, but there is plenty of space between the front of the pastel and back of the plexi. Generally I'd not suggest it, however, as you've found out. It's a dust magnet!! Search our Pastel Library to see if there's more information on that.

I've painted large occasionally. I mount my painting on fomecore, use two mats, and regular glass. Largest I usually do is 32"x40" outside mat size because my mat cutter only goes to 40" and a standard mat is that same size. You have to 'butterfly' the hanging wire, which just means it goes from the bottom rail, up to one side, across tot he other side, and back to the bottom rail again, effectively holding the weight so that it's pulling together from the side and bottom. I also run a nice taught wire from top to bottom, just to be sure, and double wire where it goes through the hanger. Matting and framing the puppies is a real hassle! But that price tag is nice.... :D

Hope that helps you think about this...



09-24-2005, 09:17 PM
My recent piece, "The Young Fancy Dancer" posted in the studio forum is 2'x3' that's a full sheet of Wallis pro. I already had a frame to fit, thank goodness, otherwise I would have been looking at a lot of money. It is heavy but not too heavy, so I am unsure whether the glazing is plexi or glass, I think glass. When I use plexi I wipe it with a fabric softener cloth like bounce, so far no pulling the dust. I keep the front surface wiped while it's hanging. I expect that the least expensive would be to use nice double mats, spacers and a metal modular frame. If I worked larger, I would need a different easel, really a whole different setup. Larger starts getting awkward to paint on, to transport, to frame and to store. I have a small house so don't have a wall I can hang this on to see how it looks there. I worried about how much my pastels would shrink. The hard ones quickly whittled down on the sandy surface as I blocked in, but the softies held their own quite well. I like this size. I too worked 8x10, 11x14 and thought I was going big at 16x20. Some subjects demand size. Have fun!

09-24-2005, 10:37 PM
32 x 40" image with oversize mats or spacers and liner (better)
ends up being heavy but there is something to be said for size

09-25-2005, 10:45 AM
I guess if you consider the mat or mats the paper size wouldn't be as big as I thought. I'll start thinking of a subject that would work that size, thanks.
Carol M

Deborah Secor
09-25-2005, 11:38 AM
I usually use at least a 5" mat all around a painting that large--sometimes wider! I think they need the space...so the paper may be no more than 22x30".


09-25-2005, 12:43 PM
The first pastel painting I ever did outside of school was on 20" x 30" illustration board, and I put it in a 2' x 3' frame with glass. It's surprisingly not heavy. I used a very simple, plain black wood frame, the kind you order in sections -- I'm sure a more elaborate frame would be heavier. I'm guessing it weighs less than five pounds with painting, double matt, frame, glass, and foamcore backing.

Kitty Wallis
09-25-2005, 05:49 PM
It's true, I like to work large. I was urged to start making larger pieces by a few collectors and a gallery that was selling to corporate clients and decorators. I found I loved it. I've done pastels as large as 4'x6'. Before I stared making my own paper and was stuck with paper no larger than 22"x28" (Ersta) I did one piece that was 8 sheets set together in one frame, 88"x56" That one had to be installed, not hung. :D

My favorite size now is 4'x4'.

I mount the finished painting on 1/2" foam core. Use spacers 7/8" deep and plexiglass. I find the plexiglass isn't such a dust magnet with that much depth between the painting and the plexi. It's also better to use deeper spacers with a large piece to prevent possible contact with the plexi.

The frame and wire must be strong enough for the weight. I use a system for these very large pieces with two hangers, fastened directly into each side of the frame, which hook into two hangers, one at each side, screwed into the wall. They are leveled with little turnbuckles within the hangers.

Deborah's idea of running a vertical wire brace from top to bottom of the frame is a good one. I haven't had any fall apart, but I haven't been the framer. My frames do fall apart. :)

09-26-2005, 01:15 PM
the last large (32 x 40") pastel that went to a client
is to be floated with foam core behind slightly smaller than the pastel
mounted with silicone on a larger foamcore sheet that was rolled with the wall colour
then a bull nose simple moulding around with lots of room between pastel and glass

I think you could do the same, float mount a large pastel on the wall then just cover it with the glass and frame and use the wall as mat

anyway some day I'll try it

09-27-2005, 01:02 PM

Very helpful information, Thank you everybody. I am moving into larger myself, 22x30 is my biggest so far, so the timing for me is perfect.

I read somewhere about an anti-static spray used on the plexi, the dryer sheet is a great idea. I wonder if the spray is the anti-cling fabric spray, Static Guard. I bet there are archival sprays somewhere.


09-28-2005, 05:20 PM
It's fun reading about everyone working large. I'd love to do it myself! When I took a drawing class our teacher made us use 18x24 drawing pads and I thought they would be way too big, but I found I loved that size, and that was the size I did my first pastels. But then when my sister who is local loved one of my pictures and wanted to hang it on her wall I found it was too expensive to have it framed! None of the ready-made frames and mats were big enough, and custom framing was way more than either of us could afford. I finally found a cheapish 18x24 frame and had to frame it without a mat, directly on the glass.

So now I've been trying to do pictures that I can get cheapish pre-cut double mats for which means no bigger than 12x16 max, but ideally no bigger than 11x14, and I hate working that small but it's the most I can afford to frame!

09-28-2005, 10:47 PM
Debbie, the solution I found to inexpensive framing was to get poster frames from a box store or to buy a framed print from a box store for the frame . I got a 24x30 frame for under $26. A piece of mat board is $6.oo on sale at many art stores, and I cut them myself. I also hunt out frames at yard sales and from friends, have glass cut to fit and have mats cut or cut them myself. The last big piece with a frame of 2x3 feet cost me under $25 for everything.

09-29-2005, 10:33 AM
Good tips TJ. I have looked at poster frames, but the ones I've seen don't look like they would be thick enough to hold the matting. I've seen the mat boards at good prices at AC Moore, but I see I could waste a lot of time and mats and money trying to learn how to cut them! I did buy one of those mat boards and tried an experiment in cutting myself when I was trying to frame an 18x24 picture I'd done that my sister wanted, and I only ended up with a lot of wasted mat board! :)