View Full Version : How large do you work?

01-05-2008, 10:03 AM
I am planning a landscape and would love to try it in OP but I also want it to be large, about 22 X 28. Of course, i know it will burn through some colors but my biggest concern is framing something like that. Do you guys usually work smaller? If you do work that large, how do you manage framing?

I suppose I could do the picture and get it framed professionally but that would be cost prohibitive. Do any of you build your own frames? or use components to put them together? How about buying frames already put together? I have done that with smaller pictures but it doesn't seem very likely that I will find one that will fit spacers or that has a mat once you get past a certain size.

I get the feeling that if I continue working with OP's like I want to do then I will have to learn to frame my own work.

Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated as framing is completely new to me and sort of a big dark area to explore.

Thanks ahead for your participation on this thread, sorry if it is too wordy.

Pat Isaac
01-05-2008, 11:37 AM
Hi Lara,

I do my own framing sort of. By that I mean I order the frame and glass from the frame center in town and then I either mat the piece myself or put the spacers in and put the frame together with backing, nails and a paper dust cover on the back, hardware and wire.
I do work large. My largest piece is 30 x 40 and I often do 24 x 36.
They do make sections of metal and wood frames which you can put together, then you need to buy the glass. Sometimes a local glass store is relatively inexpensive, but I found getting it with the frame to be the best bet.
It's true that the ready made frames are usually no bigger that 16 x 20, at least I have not seen any larger sizes. The man in the frame store said it is hard to get them larger because of the glass breakage in shipping.
I purchased some Sennelier La Grandes and find that these larger OPs are great for covering larger areas.
Hope this is helpful.


01-05-2008, 12:06 PM
Lara, I frame my own works using ready-made standard gallery frames that I buy in quantity at wholesale once or twice a year. Since I buy a lot I can get a very good price. I used to make my own frames but found that the framing took up more time than painting and they never looked as professional as the bought frames.

One important consideration when working large is the weight and fragility of the work framed with glass. All of my works are consigned to galleries and a lot of them are shipped by the gallery to the buyer. Large works under glass are very heavy and difficult to display and ship. For pastels I usually use the watercolour frame kits (frame + glass + double mat + backing board). 22" x 28" is considered to be the full sheet size. The largest I work with for these frames is the half sheet size, i.e. 14" x 22". For me the most practical size is the quarter sheet size or 11" x 14". I live in a tourist area so this is often referred to as the "cash & carry" size since it can fit in luggage and doesn't need to be shipped. If you frame with a mat make sure that the frame is solid enough to support the weight of the glass.

For oil pastels I have used standard oil painting frames (frame + seamless linen liner + wooden lip) with glass. The frame is very strong and, without a mat, the glass surface is smaller. I have tried the plastic spacers but find them too small and delicate for my needs. At a hobby shop I buy small (1/4" x 1/4") lengths of wood which I paint with acrylics or Colourfix Primer. I like to use the soft umber primer which I also use for the museum board that I paint on. Here's a photo of a recently completed framed painting:


Please excuse the reflections on the glass in the photo but I had to photograph it indoors because of the weather. Hung on a light coloured wall the frame looks less heavy than in the small photograph.

Since you didn't mention whether this painting is to be hung in your own home or not, I am only writing this from my own perspective. I hope this is useful to you and feel free to ask any more questions.


Pat Isaac
01-05-2008, 12:36 PM
Wendell, I am interested in your wooden spacers. How do you attach them to the glass? I have shipped peices as large as 22 x 27 with no problem, but nothing larger. Weight does become an issue.
BTW your newest OP looks great framed

01-05-2008, 01:55 PM
Pat, I went to the hobby shop and found lengths of pine 1/4" x 1/4" x 48" at a cost of about $1.50 each. I bought several and painted some of them with black acrylic gesso and others with the Colourfix Primers. Actually I don't attach them to the glass. By the way, I first put an old bathtowel on the table where I am working to protect the frame from any scratches. I then clean the glass well and, wearing clean cotton gloves, insert the glass into the frame without attaching it. I then cut the wood lengths to size with a utility knife. If they are difficult to cut you can score them well on all sides with the utility knife and then snap and trim them to fit. I then apply a small amount of thick carpenters glue to one side of one strip. I then glue it to the wooden lip of the frame holding it down against the glass. This is repeated on the other three sides. I then check the glass to make sure it is clean and place the artwork (on museum board) and attach it with my point driver. I then put on a backing board of acid-free fomecore. Since the linen liner is made with MDF (medium density fibreboard) the whole thing is very strong. I hope I am explaining this well enough.

To give you an idea of the cost, this frame with a 10" x 20" opening and a liner width of 3 1/2" for a total size of 18" x 28" cost $51.09 + the glass which cost about $10.00. Of course, that is the wholesale price for a large order that I picked up with no shipping. When I pick them up (a three hour drive to Halifax) I take a lot of old blankets and big towels to wrap the frames with.

The half sheet watercolour kit that I mentioned has a mat opening of 13 1/2" x 21 1/2" and a frame opening of 20" x 28" with a total size of 22" x 30". I use a fomecore spacer with an opening of 14" x 22" between the artwork and the mat. I used this for framing a soft pastel and it was shipped from Prince Edward Island to Ontario with no problem. I know that the galleries don't like to ship larger paintings under glass since it involves having a special crate made.

Thanks for the compliment, Pat.


Pat Isaac
01-05-2008, 02:45 PM
Thanks so much, Wendell. You explained it very well. So far the plastic spacers have worked for me as I have used them with masonite or clayboard. I'll have to try the wood strip for some of my OPs on lighter weight surfaces.


01-05-2008, 10:45 PM
Pat and Wendell, thank you both for the in depth replies. The work I am planning is going to be on a full sheet of Wallis Sanded paper. I am thinking that for my needs, going to a local frame shop and buying the glass and frame as Pat suggested may be the way to go since I don't have a need at the moment for multiple frames though I can see how that would be a good value for someone who did lots of work and sold it. I also would be interested in the wood spacer idea as well. Thanks again to you both.

This will be hanging in my house for now. I am just starting out on thinking of making art a career and need to collect some pieces for my portfolio. I am sort of in the first stages and I think that framing my own work would be of good use now and in the future if I am able to make a success of this venture. I had a couple of OP's professionally framed at a cost of about $160 each and that was at a good discount. I know I don't want to rely on that method. I may end up having to invest in a mat cutter and learning how to use it as well.

01-06-2008, 09:23 AM
Pat, can you post a picture of the spacers you guys are talking about. I asked at a local Hobby Lobby and the staff were clueless.

Pat Isaac
01-06-2008, 10:00 AM
The spacers I use are about 1/4" clear plastic with one side sticky which I adhere to the glass inside the frame. This keeps the painting away from the glass. I don't have any at the moment, but I know a frame shop would know what you were talking about.


01-06-2008, 11:13 AM
Anne, more information about the plastic spacers can be seen at:


You will also find photos and instructions for use at this site. The wooden pieces I use are strips of balsa, basswood or pine used in model making.

I hope this is helpful...


Pat Isaac
01-06-2008, 11:31 AM
Thanks for the link, Wendell. That is exactly the type I use.


01-12-2008, 07:30 AM
I have done a piece 5ft by 4ft that I just neatly stretched canvas to use.

01-27-2008, 01:22 AM
I usually work smaller just because it doesn't take up too much room in my bedroom, and the smaller sizes are cheaper. Yeah, I got some things that are pretty big, but I mostly work on small things.