How to frame your favourite piece of art

So, you’ve picked out your next piece of art, but what now? The frame shouldn’t be an afterthought, and there are lots of things to consider. We caught up with Luci Noel, Director at the Affordable Art Fair, to find out the dos and don’ts of frame-buying.

Find your style

“Consider the style of the piece and the room where it will hang, but don’t be afraid to think outside the box. For a minimalist photograph, painting or print, a simple black or white box frame works well, and suits almost all interiors thanks to its simple style. If you want to make your frame more of a feature, however, choose an ornate piece – and these aren’t reserved for classical paintings, only. Combine a contemporary work with a decorative frame for a playful visual effect.”

To glaze, or not to glaze?

“A painting on wood or canvas is unlikely to need glazing; a trench or tray frame will protect the edges while displaying it beautifully. However, works on paper should be glazed, such as drawings, watercolour paintings, prints, or photographs, to protect them from dust, moisture and changes in humidity. Remember to think about the type of glass, too. Perhaps you’d prefer a non-reflective surface, or something with UV protection to guard against fading caused by sunlight.”

Pick a colour

“Monochrome frames are still a popular choice, but we’re also seeing a trend towards brighter colours. Consider the shades in the painting itself and the general colour scheme of the rest of the space. A general rule is to complement, but not mimic, the dominant colours in the work. A painting featuring a lot of crimson for example, may look quite harsh if framed in a matching frame, but a deeper shade of red will help the colour without overwhelming it. Your frame can also be used to bring out less dominant hues and finer details. For example, we’re seeing some contemporary artists use materials such as gold leaf in their works, and gold frames really highlight these elements.”

Making Shapes

“A circular piece or something with an unusual shape often requires a specialist frame, although traditional rectangular choices can create breathing space around an artwork, for a distinctive look. Alternatively, why not float mount the work, framing it so that the edges of the piece appear to hover above the backing board? This method ensures a contemporary appeal and works especially well if the edges of a piece are interesting in themselves. Whatever you choose, check that the mounts you are archival standard, (sometimes described as pH neutral), because acids in cheap mountboard can damage artwork over time.”

Line it up

“Once you’ve framed your piece, you then need to hang it – and this is much easier than you might think. General consensus says that the centre of the work should be at eye level, but feel free to break that rule if it doesn’t feel right. If you’re hanging multiple pieces on the same wall, it’s tempting to smooth out the frame tops, but it’s usually better to line up the centres. This creates a dynamic visual effect and a focal point for the wall, inviting your eye to actively explore your collection.”

Key terms

There are a few specialist terms you should be aware of…

Box frame: Originally used to frame 3D objects, box frames are becoming increasingly popular for prints and paintings as their depth helps bring pieces out from the surrounding walls.

Mount: A piece of high-quality card which is placed inside a frame, creating a space between the work and frame.

Ready-made frame: A mass produced and often inexpensive frame which comes in a standard size.

Floater frame: Designed to frame works on canvas, floater frames are slightly larger than the piece itself allowing for a small gap between the work’s edge and the frame.

The London Hampstead Affordable Art Fair will be taking place 11th – 14th May. For further details about the event, visit the website here

The images in this article were supplied by Affordable Art Fair

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