Choosing a frame is one of the most difficult decisions for me as painter.
Not because I can't pick a frame that I like to go with a particular painting, but because I am literally picking the frame for the potential "unknown" buyer. Choose the wrong frame and I stand the chance of turning away possible buyers. It is like buying glasses or underwear for someone you have never met!
Fortunately oil paintings are the easiest for me of all artwork to frame. You don't need glass or a mat, spacers or backing boards, as long as your paintings are on rigid panels or stretched canvas. Just pop the painting into the frame and secure it with a point driver or metal retainers then add a good D -Ring wire to the back plus some wall bumpers on the bottom corners. If you want to get really archival put some protective tape in the rabbit so your painting doesn't touch the wood in the frame.
My personal framing thoughts follow. This could be VERY bad advice for you, so take it with a grain of salt, or titanium oxide pigment if you will.
- More traditional looking representational paintings feel better in traditional frames.
- Less traditional pieces seem more at home in gallery wrap presentations or more minimal framing techniques.
- Smaller paintings stand out better in larger frames. I tend to go with at least a 2 1/2" preferably a 3" wide frame for small paintings.
- The larger the painting the greater the chance of it looking OK as a gallery wrap or with a very minimal / thin frame on it such as metal or thin hardwood strips tacked to the stretcher bars. I must add that I think gallery wrapped canvas presentations look very dated and cheap, and I never used them but some people do like the presentation. It certainly is more inexpensive than adding a frame.
- My favorite unframed presentation is a 2" deep basswood cradled Baltic birch panel with the basswood flats sanded smooth, stained and clear varnished or just clear varnished. I have yet to do any subject matter on one of those that did not look better to me than any gallery wrapped canvas. The cradled panels are also significantly more durable than a stretched canvas.
- Don't go too cheap on frames. A Wal Mart or Target frame is going to scream CHEAP. Even most of the frames at Michael's look pretty cheap. Stay far away from plastic and MDF frames if you can. I would suggest you buy readymade solid wood frames from Dick Blick, Cheap Joes etc. Some of their higher end frames look almost as nice and sometimes better than a custom frame from a framing shop.
- Work in sizes that fit the readymade frames at the source you choose. That way if a painting doesn't sell, put another piece in that frame.
- Go look at what others are using for frames and try to find something that isn't exactly the same was what everyone else is using.