Here are five tips and suggestions for choosing a picture frame that I hope help as a starting point. It is surprising how a frame can completely change the mood and look of a painting; it is worth spending some time researching before framing any of your precious artwork or prints.
Tip One – Research
It is always good to research, both online and offline for two things. (1) A professional framer, and (2) To learn your taste in frames.
Finding a good framer is probably the easier of the two and they should be able to give you advice as to price and types of wood and mount they can use. Before seeing someone professionally though, it is worth researching your own tastes in picture frames. A good starting point could be on Pinterest to see the sort of frames that catch your eye. Magazines such as The Ideal Home Type magazines can also help with inspiration. Flick through and see if anything catches your fancy.
Look at the frames used in local galleries and think critically regarding the colours, black, white, silver or gold for example. What will that frame look like in your home? Will it contrast with the rest of your decor? Will the frame contrast with your painting? If it’s an old painting then perhaps an old style frame would be far better suited?
Ideally, go to a framer when choosing a picture frame, as they will have lots of different types of frames around. They have lots of different colour inserts (mounts) available to experiment with. The mount is the cardboard frame that goes immediately around the canvas. You can even choose to have two cardboard inserts and can look nice too on some paintings. One of them could be in a colour that matches the decor in your home. One rule I have heard is to never have the insert the same width as the frame. Either wider or narrower but never the same.
With canvas paintings, they usually come painted on a thin flat board or else a box canvas. If the latter is the case then you can leave it unframed if you so wish. I tend to paint a lot of the time on box canvas. Some artists paint the sides of the canvas in perhaps a dark colour which almost acts like a frame.
Other artists may have stretched the canvas and put staples on the side, and have assumed you will be framing it. There are no set rules from what I understand it.
Framing can be expensive and choosing a picture frame, a great frame can sometimes cost more than the actual painting. However, if it is something special, well let’s face it, why not invest in it when it is something that you love and can possibly get passed down the generations for years to come. A beautiful painting in your home will bring you many years of happiness and it is either something that you will wake up to see each and every morning (if it is in your bedroom) or perhaps it will be something you will have in the dining room and subconsciously over breakfast it will set you in the right mood for the day.
Maybe it is not on a canvas? Possibly a print, or a watercolour? Furthermore, maybe you have stored up quite a few paintings or prints and need to get them framed? If you have quite a few paintings, you don’t have to have them all in the same frames. Also don’t feel you have to get them all done at once although a framer may offer a discount if you do a bulk order, so it is worth asking about.
Most of all they don’t all have to match. Each painting or print is unique in itself so why “dress” them all the same? Certainly, if it is on paper, it will need to be protected behind glass.
Another thing to note is that special care needs to be taken when framing images that are on paper. Make sure that the materials used are 100 per cent acid-free. In the long term, you don’t want the images ruined or discoloured. (Perhaps it is worth taking a good copy or photograph to have as a back up just in case?) I know it is not ideal but better to have something stored on your computer that nothing at all. Many a fine piece of art has been devalued because of acid and damp to the image.
If you have lots of old frames around (that you still like) then perhaps it is worth taking a trip to a professional framer and see if they can give you advice. They may still be able to use the frames that you have, so you can save a bit on costs, and certainly they can use proper acid-free paper to mount them correctly. Certainly, do not underestimate the problems involved keeping them in folders. Periodically check them to make sure they are not getting mould on them.