View Full Version : Picked up some framed works today...but, how 'bout a black matted piece??

01-21-2012, 11:43 PM
Picked up a half-dozen works framed up from my framer...long day, two hours drive there...

One larger acrylic plein air, an oil...and four gouache pieces.

Galleries I'm dealing with seem to prefer the white or off white matting glassing gouache...but IMO white being cool in nature seems to suck some of the energy out of the work. I had a hunch that a black mat would punch and feature the color a bit better. Whatcha think?

Sorry the painting image itself is just a bit on the blurred side...but, you'll get the idea..

Gooseberry Falls...8"x 10"


01-22-2012, 02:31 AM
It certainly puts the focus on the painting.


01-22-2012, 10:11 AM
HI Larry,
I love your art, and I believe a black mat can work on that rare occasion, but not this time.

01-22-2012, 12:35 PM
thanks Doug...thanks Karenlee...

I've appreciated the consensus across a few forums on this one...and the appeal tends to favor the darker/black mat...and some have stated some various reasons. Glad I shared this...

01-22-2012, 01:37 PM
Not sure about the matt black frame though Larry, I would rather have seen a shiny black metal one.


01-22-2012, 01:59 PM
hahahaa....oh my...and I'm thinking I wish Duracell would come out with a paint line. Colors that would be so much brighter, intense...glowing from the frame...

01-23-2012, 04:03 AM
I think watercolor just needs a lighter mat. The black overpowers it. You might consider another color if you don't like the white, but I think the painting is lost in the black.

01-23-2012, 07:49 AM
Appreciate your opinion thanks. From consensus on a couple forums...the black seems to prove much favor. As many paintings as I paint....varied opinion is nice to know and figure out. It means some work will market to those sharing one preference...and some the other.

What brought me to even try black was the great personal dissatisfaction with how I felt my color and mood OJ other works with white mat was lost...sucked right out of it.

Now...with traditional watercolor where white is used in the paper itself to drive the color in its transparency...the white mat would I suspect unify the work as a whole. Gouache being an opaque pigment works similar to oils I think in what framing/matting bring to it.

It'll be interesting to see reactions on gallery space walls...

Thanks again, its been helpful.

01-23-2012, 08:51 AM
Hi Larry,

I took your image into Photoshop and changed the black matte to white for comparison. While I thought I'd be in favor of the black, the white suits it better in my opinion.


01-23-2012, 02:07 PM
Hi Larry,

I took your image into Photoshop and changed the black matte to white for comparison. While I thought I'd be in favor of the black, the white suits it better in my opinion.


Its going to be a half-dozen one or the other. Glad you took the time to do that.

When my piece was selected for the AIS show recently...a gouache, it sold near straight away. About a half-dozen others were bummed, wanting the piece themselves.

I was happy...and the host of that show is now a gallery on the West coast representing me.

To be honest though...when I arrived at the gallery having chose an off white mat for the piece, I was aghast...and my throat tightened up. The color I painted looked severely culled, the energy of the piece lost.

I suppose for folks seeing it the first time, perhaps appreciating the brushwork, etc., it seemed like a fine painting. But, it was not the painting I had painted thanks to the off white mat.

I had painted it inside the warm wood lid of my pochade box. The warmth of the wood naturally pushes for decisions to mix the color stronger and warmer. A reason I don't mix my paint on a white palette...or paint on a white surface because a color need not be mixed hardly warm at all to read warm by comparison against the white...which by nature is cool.

Mixed on a warm palette, painted on a toned surface...you mix it warmer nearly without thinking about it.

I have found over the years...painting on a white support...I needed to go back as the painting was about 2/3's done...to tweek the color and pull the strength back up. Again...initially against the white support those warm initials strokes read strong. Against color that builds up masses and fills in, with less white around...suddenly those first strokes are not so strong.

My sensitivity to this happening while painting may well equip my bias then for what white mats do to the work after...


here is the painting that was accepted into the show...and was sold. The image on the left is how it appears on my blog...the blog background being black. The right is something what it appeared like when it was matted in off white.

To my eye...the color lost some punch with the white...some of the color values losing energy. The blue in the upper left, and thru the trees appears richer IMO...than the blues on the right surrounded by white. The grasses seem warmer, richer in color on the left...see pasty and flat on the right, etc.,

I had something of a sickening feeling actually...but, thank goodness it was well received...

Ian Bruce
01-23-2012, 06:50 PM
My two cents, is that a black mat can easily be too wide. I'd say that in the above comparison the black border is too wide.

In your initial post of the framed painting, I believe the width of the mat is just right but the black molding of the frame makes it appear too wide. If it were a black frame with a narrow silver molding around the inside of the frame it would have worked very well--anything to limit the width of the black border somewhat. Given that caveat--I think the black mat works very well indeed.

01-23-2012, 08:38 PM
thanks Ian...will give it some thought. As with the gouache works thus far, the wide matting has been part of the selling point...folks seem to simply like it, the gallery especially...

I like the idea of perhaps some silver...but the wide boarder I suppose gives the work an isolation to its own environment...and apart from what influence the wall space itself might imbue...

thanks again...

01-23-2012, 10:20 PM
Well, I was going to suggest that the wide mat is too overpowering, but I see someone else has mentioned it. Each thing we've mentioned you've countered, so I guess a wide black mat it will be in the end? :D

01-23-2012, 10:23 PM
Perhaps I could be a dork...simply put I guess. Thanks...but folks input (which I could not anticipate) did help me work thru this. Whether I end up agreeing or not. But...I'm at peace should any think dork fits better. We all (or most) have our moments...some more than others. Perhaps this is mine... ;)


01-24-2012, 08:10 AM
Hi Larry,

Glad you are happy with the choice you made.

In any case, I don't think your painting loses energy against white or gains it against black, or vice versa. I do agree that it can read slightly different depending on what color it is against but the overall image is still a good one.

I tend to prefer no matte.


01-24-2012, 08:53 AM
Predominantly an oil painter the past 17 years...I'm with you in preferring no matte. With gouache...not so sure how to pull that off since really it needs glassing...spacers.

Also...I typically write with pencil beneath the gouache...title, where painted. Some artists mat and frame so that that appears. Gouache tends to fall into a unique class...and I may try framing sometime so the pencilling appears and see what happens.


01-28-2012, 03:15 PM
shipped two of the three pieces this week to California...

took pics first...so you can see the framing. The gallery likes the simple black wood frames...and here the off white mat..

each image is 4"x 8"....gouache

"Strong Falls"

"Trolling for Kings"

01-31-2012, 12:54 PM
Hi Larry, I remember you from old Getty artsednet days! I just started gouache a few weeks ago, so have been enjoying looking at your work again.

As an ex framer, I agree the really white mats can be glaring, but I like some of the crescent 100 cream colors. Black seems a little harsh, but a neutral grey could be excellent. I think floating might be an option too, since you write below your work. The printmaker in me likes the paper & the edge of the painting to show.


01-31-2012, 03:02 PM
I was thinking of framing some gouache up...with the pencil writing below the painting on the paper's margin...not sure if folks might see that as intriguing or not...but, perhaps I should try one, see what happens...

thanks Betty...
the "old Getty" days...eh??? haha...enough talk with old already!!! hahahaa... :lol:

01-31-2012, 05:25 PM
I was very interested in what you said about the color of your pochade box influencing your painting.
As for the black mat, I am going to step outside my field of authority (which is ZERO as an amateur) and say this: I have seen paintings that improved dramatically when set on a dark background--that could be a dark mat or a dark wall. It's rather startling. My take is that the painting was favorably influenced by contrast outside the margins of the painting and frame because the painting itself should have had more internal contrast. Special treatment would be unnecessary if a larger format and/or wider angle of view allowed one to include within the painting some dark contrast areas that really set the painting off.

01-31-2012, 11:04 PM
thanks Karen Lee..

one is never outside a field of authority...we all come to this on many levels, but hopefully all appreciators of art. Appreciate your opinion...it is helpful... :)