The approval check for my art show is only 3 weeks away (and I’m about to enter panic mode) so today I decided that I should go and get at least a few of my paintings framed, rather than having to do it all at once …. $$$$$. I always partially dread choosing frames because there are so many choices, and I put a lot of pressure on myself to find the perfect one. What, you may ask, is the perfect frame? Here are a few of the criteria that I use when choosing this all-important finishing touch:
1. What is the theme of your piece?
Theme has a lot to do with how I choose a frame because I want it to reflect the same characteristics as the overall message of the piece. What I mean by this is, you probably should not choose a barn-board, weathered frame for a portrait of the mayor – it just wouldn’t go together. The barn-board frame would work, however, on a painting of something farm-related.
2. What is the predominant color scheme?
Color scheme is another important factor because you want your frame to bring out the best in your work. One of the paintings that I had framed today was fairly monochromatic, on the warm side of the color spectrum. Because of this, I chose a frame that would bring out the reds in the painting because it helped balance against the yellows. This would be choosing a frame to Match the color scheme of the painting.
You can also choose a frame to Complement your painting. This is different from matching because the frame will pick up tones from the opposite side of the color wheel. Complementary colors are, blue/orange, violet/yellow, red/green, etc. Now, please do not misunderstand me- taken too far, this can horribly backfire. I don’t want to see your beautiful still life of oranges framed in a cobalt blue monstrosity. You want to complement to be subtle… let me repeat: SUBTLE.
3. Size is a factor.
Take into account how large or small your work is, and how it will appear on the wall. Usually, the larger the painting, the wider the frame- you want it to look like it can support the painting. You do not want it to look like you wimped out (that sounds mean, but I’ll explain). If you go to all the trouble of creating a beautiful large-scale painting and put it in a thin frame, it takes away from the overall impact you were striving so hard to achieve. In contrast, I have seen some lovely studies (8 x 10 or smaller) in rather chunky frames, and it looked fantastic! Just use your discretion.
4. How extravagant is too extravagant?
A lot of delicate subjects look wonderful in heavily-ornamented frames – things like flowers, gardens, some still lifes, etc. can benefit from a gilded frame because it speaks to the sophistication of the piece. Some subject-matter, and even some media (watercolor, digital,etc.) look much better in a frame that is
less extravagant. This is not a hard and fast rule, but it can give you a direction to go in.
I’m sure there are other helpful tips that I am missing out on in this post, but I hope that if you are on a quest for a great-looking frame, this will narrow down your options.