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How to Choose the Right Framing for Your Art

 In Art & Gallery News, Articles
framing art

This artwork by David Najar is complemented by a gold, ornate frame

A frame is meant to complement and showcase a work of art. It is the finishing touch that presents the art in the best light, and separates the art from the world for contemplation and admiration.

Framing art correctly results in enjoying the artwork for years to come, while a poor choice diminishes the art, making the task seem all the more daunting. To help choose the right frame, here are some tips and ideas for enhancing art with the perfect frame.

 

Frame colors

framing art

A dark frame brings out the light of this Thomas Kinkade art

Traditionally, frames are gold or a variation of gold because the color is universal and displays the art with an air of importance. Since gold is neutral it is often the choice for framing fine art. Even so, David Gorman, Park West Gallery Director, says the selection between gold or another color should be based on bringing out the colors of the art.

“After observing our master framers’ selections over the years, there is one aspect I find consistent throughout,” he says. “That is, cool tones in a painting, i.e. green, blue, purple, are framed in primarily silver frames. Warm tones, i.e. red, orange, yellow, get framed in gold.”

 

framing art

Gold and silver frames used on two Peter Max artworks

 

The same rule applies to wooden tones. Mahogany or walnut, for example, pair well with warmer colors, while light and natural woods complement cool colors.

Frames and matting should not closely match the artwork in color. There should be an element of contrast between them, otherwise they blend together and the colors of the artwork are diminished.

 

Frame designs

framing art

An ornate, golden frame is used to frame this work by Pablo Picasso

In general, the frame should be chosen based on the artwork. A painting of a more classical subject or theme, such as a landscape, benefits from a traditional frame that is more ornate. Abstract and modern art looks best with a simpler, sleek frame.

For a frame’s thickness, the general rule is to use a wide frame on large art and a thin frame on smaller art.

Choosing a frame to match other frames in a collection is not recommended. A variety of frames can create a striking display, with each frame style emphasizing its work of art.

framing art

This stunning frame displays a work by Csaba Markus like a gem

Gorman says that frame styles do not need to match home décor either. For example, a contemporary painting can hang with a contemporary frame in a room with traditional décor. A home’s décor can change over time, so choosing a frame based on a room is not always the best course of action.

“If you frame in a timeless frame, according to the art itself, it can go anywhere over the years and even move from wall to wall as your collection grows,” Gorman says.

 

Matting

White matting brings out this lenticular art by Tim Yanke

White matting brings out this lenticular art by Tim Yanke

Matting is used for works on paper, such as watercolor and graphic editions. Artwork should not directly touch wood, so avoid matting situations where this would occur to avoid damaging the art. Park West Gallery adheres to this standard when framing art as well as using 100 percent rag board matting and insulating artwork with 100 percent acid-free mat boards.

Gorman believes it is best to avoid colored matting. He notes that art gallery walls are white so they don’t compete with the artwork. The same should be considered when selecting matting.

“Using colored matting is the biggest mistake, in my opinion, as it dates the art – a very 1980s to 1990s way of framing,” he says. “The best matting is white or off-white.”

However, double matting is available if one desires a hint of color. The colored mat should be under the neutral colored mat for the best effect.

 

Asking for advice

framing art

Experts crafting frames at Park West Gallery’s Miami Lakes fulfillment center

Ultimately, the decision rests with the owner of the art for choosing a frame, but don’t be afraid to ask the professionals at Park West for guidance. Park West Gallery’s framing program helps take the guesswork out of choosing a frame by having pre-selected options to choose from for each artist.

Remember, the frame will always be viewed with the art, so with these tips, any art collected from Park West will be sure to take center stage wherever they hang.

For more tips, check out our infographic on hanging art and our articles on displaying sculptures and 6 ideas for hanging art.

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Showing 25 comments
  • Vincent
    Reply

    Hello Frame Experts…
    I have purchased the following from you…Godard’s “Grape confusion”, “City Heist”, “100 dollar bill”. I picked the frame with Black frame with gold on the inside. I have a light cream colour wall. Would it look good ?
    Vincent

  • Jennifer Chupyatov
    Reply

    I purchased a print on the Norwegian Sun 2 years ago. I should have let your company frame it. Can I send it to your company now and get it framed? Please advise.

  • Mike Schmutzok
    Reply

    We have several Erte bronze medallions we’ve acquired from you. Are the framing recommendations the same? Based on the above article, the frame would be small and sleek due to the nature of the medallions. However, the medallion being a neutral color in itself, would we choose a dark or light frame? Also, we have 5 of these medallions. Would we frame them individually or in one large frame set in some kind of pattern?

  • gordon schaaf
    Reply

    We have always been more than satisfied with the Park West frames. They are of the highest quality and enhance our art, no matter what design, color, size, etc. Many thanks.

  • Charles Townsend
    Reply

    Thanks for the framing hints. We also think that quartz halogen 50 watt floods (with UV filters)on dimmers provide great accent lighting and make the art colors pop out.

  • Michael Raymond
    Reply

    12 years ago when we started buying art at sea we purchased two Kinkade’s &, not knowing what we were doing, we did not get them framed. Since then we have purchased way to many beautiful pieces. No wall space. My question is can we still pay to get them framed by your experts? They are lithographs & are the only two we have that are not framed. Please help!
    Thank you.

  • Rob Shutt
    Reply

    These framing tips would have been nice to know when my rolled up art arrived. Based on your suggestions, we have made many choice mistakes for colors and matting. We do love our selections, but my guess is that you wouldn’t. Thanks for the information, we will keep in mind for our next purchase.

  • Billy Rich
    Reply

    I to purchased some art this past summer during a cruise on the Norwegian Jewell. Three of the nicer pieces I had Park West frame and love the work – I have four different pieces I did not frame, so I too would like to have Park West to frame them for me.

  • Judith Levin
    Reply

    I started to select frames and now I am blocked out.

  • Bob Lowe
    Reply

    Thanks for the post. This is really helpful for choosing a frame. The pictures you posted with the small art work framed with large frames is very interesting. It is almost like the frame is the art piece. I find it really unique and beautiful. Thank for sharing. http://www.pictureframefactory.ca/en/

  • Elizabeth Lockie
    Reply

    Hi, We live in Australia and have received one of our art works we bought on a cruise, we are awaiting others. Just a question should they have glass or some sort of protection e.g. polycarbonite.

  • Bert Simmons
    Reply

    How can I look at the different framing choices available thru Park West?

  • Lynda Shirley
    Reply

    My framed print by Parkwest has begin to have a wave effect inside the frame. I have also found that the solid wood frame is veneer. Parkwest says they only warrant work for one year. Not an acceptable answer in my opinion.

  • Susan London
    Reply

    I purchased an Agam on a cruise back in 2015, and it’s been sitting in the box, because, I have the huge oversized frame which is too big for my walls. It is a large square white frame about 28 inches in length, with a smaller interior frame of about 17″ x 15″ white frame nested within it.

    Are the frames designed to be separated, so that I could just display the work in the smaller frame?

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