Sam Francis

Untitled, 1984

106.7 X 73 inch


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A Collector's Guide to Oil, Acrylic, and Watercolor

How to frame an artwork

How to frame an artwork? - Image © Sutterstock/ Stayman

A frame isn't simply about picking a color and a material; it's a lot more involved than that.  It's also vital to think about where the piece will be displayed: will it be in the same location for many years, will it be in a home or a gallery, or will it have to move? In the process of selecting a frame, we take into consideration all of these initial questions.

Be sensitive to period
The history of a piece's framing should be considered while framing a piece of art. This includes the input of galleries, framers, and artists themselves.

Use frames to create an artificial environment
It is possible to employ the frame as a means of regulating and countering the outside conditions of a work, or even to create a distinct microclimate, when the work is placed in a less than ideal setting. A framer can create a sealed enclosure that allows the correct atmosphere to be maintained, no matter what happens outside.

Choose glass carefully
In order to select the best glass for work's protection, certain factors must be taken into account. It's crucial to protect artworks from UV rays, which can cause color to fade, by using glazing to shield them.

Choose a low-reflective material that won't detract from the work's appearance when it's on display, as well. If the artwork is to be delivered or handled, it should have minimal danger of damage due to the materials used in its frame.

Another issue can be the weight of the frame: some materials can make a frame exceedingly heavy, but you use an acrylic that decreases the weight by 50%.

Frame for the long haul
Matting should be acid-free and have a dust cover on the back in order to preserve a piece over time. Traditionally, the front of the device is covered with a sheet of glass, however some manufacturers now provide an acrylic alternative. Although acrylic is shatterproof and light in weight, it is more susceptible to scratching than glass. It doesn't matter what the substance is, as long as it has been protected from UV radiation.
To mat or not to mat?
You'll always be asked if you'd prefer your artwork to be matted. When you display your artwork, you need a mat to protect it from damage. It serves primarily as a decorative element, serving as a stage on which the artwork can take center stage.  Regular mats are made by cutting a beveled hole in the centre of the decorative mat and then placing the artwork on top of a foam mat, which sits below the decorative mat. A mat will enhance the beauty of any work of art on paper, be it a drawing, a print, or a painting. The majority of pieces appear better with a mat, but there are a few outliers. Large-format photography has a larger impact on the viewer because there is nothing to compare it to. Without a mat, the story of several pieces, such as diptychs and triptychs, will be more unified and cohesive.
When to float them
A float matting technique can elevate a work to a new level in some cases. Instead of putting the artwork behind the mat, this approach makes the artwork appear to float slightly above the mat. The decorative mat is placed on the bottom, followed by a smaller piece of foam mat mounted to the mat. The artwork is then placed on top of the foam mat, about 0.2 inch (5mm) above the decorative mat. Floating matting uses hidden spacers to separate the acrylic from the mat, creating a more dramatic and spacious appearance.

For prints:
Prints are a popular choice for filling empty wall space because of their accessibility and cost. Consider the range of colors in the print, and choose a frame color that matches.

This is true of images, as well. You should be able to identify the dominant hues in your shot at a look. Black and white images are often framed in either black or white.

Colored photographs can be framed in a color that complements the photo's dominant hue.  But also a natural wood color is suitable.
For drawings and illustrations:
Your drawing and illustration works should be examined in terms of the medium they were created in. Typically, these are done with organic or perishable substances like pastel, graphite, or charcoal. It's possible that artworks in this category are more fragile.

The ideal way to display this type of artwork is to use a mount or mat. Over time, mats contribute to the preservation of more delicate and delicate artworks. Do keep in mind that the glass should never come into direct contact with your artwork, and the mat serves as a barrier. There is a risk of condensation and damage to the paper, as well as mold and mildew, if a graphite work is rubbing against a glass surface, for example. The mat provides the artwork with an air gap, allowing it to 'breathe'. All paper-based works should follow the same rules.
For oil paintings:
Consider the features of oil paintings to determine how to frame them. It is not by the evaporation of water that oil dries, but rather through oxidation. Even while a finished oil painting may feel dry to the touch after a few weeks, it won't be totally dry for decades. Oil paint on canvas can shatter if the coating is too thick, because the paint is still thought to be unstable.

An oil painting can be framed in countless ways. The dominating colors and how a frame might enhance the overall composition of the artwork are once again important considerations. It everything boils down to personal preference, yet this is the case. Oil paintings provide you more options when it comes to wooden frames, but they must also be put in a location that is appropriate for the painting, its 'weight', and its evocative qualities. There are some who argue that oil paintings should not be framed with glass because it may trap moisture behind it. Putting oil paintings behind a piece of glass could lead to their canvas deteriorating if they are not sufficiently dry.
Sculptures deserve a good setting too
Considering where a sculpture will be shown and what it will be surrounded by is essential. For a plinth outside, it's not just about how it looks, but how well it can survive the weather. Size, usability, and safety are all important considerations as well.

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