This is the third in a series of articles about purchasing and living with artwork. You can read others at these links: Why Do People Buy Art and You Bought a Painting! Now What? Part 1, To Frame or Not to Frame.
You bought an artwork! Congratulations! This single purchase is going to bring you a lifetime of pleasure. You will want to look after it and make sure it lasts as long as you live, and maybe longer. Often the first step toward this care is a frame. But how do you choose a frame for art? In this article in the series, we’ll take a look at structure.
A frame has two functions. It’s meant to focus attention on the artwork while protecting it against environmental factors that could affect its appearance over time. As you think about the frame that will do that well for you and your artwork, here are some things to consider.
Does your artwork have a fragile surface? Frames for paintings, drawings, and photographs on paper should be in a style that includes a setting for a mat and glass. This is because paper is delicate and you’ll want to keep dust, insects, and fingers or paws away from it. The glass is there to create a protective barrier, and the mat is there to keep the glass away from the paper. Without that separation, any condensation under the glass surface will sit on the paper and inevitably do damage. Mats should include a back mat behind the paper for more protection. Otherwise, that hole in the mat that lets you see the image is an invitation to something punching right through.
What about works on canvas or panel? You don’t need glass for these because their surfaces are inherently safer, so your main structural consideration is the depth of the artwork’s surface. Artworks on flat panels or boards or unstretched canvas can be mounted directly into a flat frame, if you prefer this style. Stretched canvas and cradled panel need something deeper, often mounted from the front, in a depth that allows the frame to extend from the back of the piece to slightly in front of it.
Diane Larouche, “Angel’s Forest“, encaustic & mixed media (oil paint, ink, pastel) on cradled panel
8” x 8”
Now you’re in good shape to start thinking about the colour, decoration, and design of frame that will set your artwork off best. Stay tuned for our next episode.