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Let's talk about frames.

Updated: Aug 21, 2023

How to choose the right frame for your painting.

How choose the right frame

When talking about frames we are faced with many doubts: Do I need it? How do I choose it? Will it fit my space well? Let's make some clarity on how to choose the right frame that enhances our painting and the space it is in.

Frame or not to frame?

I'm going to reveal a secret to you: not all artworks need a frame. In contemporary artworks, called "gallery wrap", the canvas is fixed around the bars and very often the artists continue to paint the motif also outside the central surface, or even laterally.In this case the frame is not necessarily essential. However, when the painting is not "gallery wrapped", the bars of the frame are thinner and the staples are visible along the sides. In this case it is preferable to frame the canvas. The frame should therefore have a depth sufficient to accommodate the thickness of the canvas and the frame.

abstract painting
Textured sides

What frame then?

The fundamental role of a frame is to focus the attention on the artwork, creating a kind of contemplative space, a closed boundary, separated from the surrounding world, making the image independent from the context.The guidelines are in agreement that it is mainly the work that should determine which frame to choose: the style of the painting determines the style of the frame. Only subsequently can we consider the furnishings. Some examples.A work with a classic motif should be enclosed in a timeless, elegant and golden frame. Abstract, ethereal and “light” works combine better with slender, sober and not overly decorated frames.

Floater frames

In the second half of the 15th century, less demanding works began to be represented, which did not require too luxurious or elaborate frames. Thus, the "floater frame" structure became very popular. The basic shape of this consists of an outer and an inner profile, raised from the flat band. This type has not yet been eclipsed, so much so that today the floater frames are still very popular. What was the secret of this immortality? The elegance and simple linearity certainly contributed a lot to their "always being fashionable".

The color of a frame

frames for paintings

This aspect can be open to debate: is it better for the frame color to be consistent with the room's furnishings or to be related to the colors used in the painting? Despite having equal dignity in both opinions, we recommend opting for the second. First of all, it is not said that a painting will remain fixed in one environment but it could find different locations over time, and it is also not said that the furnishings will always remain the same. In this case we would risk having a frame not very consistent with both the painting and the new furnishings.The problem should be addressed upstream: it is the painting itself that should be integrated into the environment. In this way any frame that is able to enhance its beauty will still be fine.Let's ask ourselves what we want to achieve from our frame and which elements of our subject we want to enhance. For example, if there were warm colors or metallic tones in the subject, we could opt for a frame with warm colors close to the tones we want to enhance, on the contrary if we want to obtain a more serene and less impacting effect, we will choose a color more similar to the background.

Will it match the decor?

wall art

Assuming the artwork we are framing already fits the environment, we choose a frame that looks good on the piece we have decided to frame and we will see that it will not clash with our decor. We take into account the predominant tones of the painting and look for a frame color that serves as a bridge between the subject and the decor.

How should one behave with paper drawings?


Works on paper - watercolor, pastel, charcoal and so on - deserve another set of considerations in relation to the "fragility" of their surface. Paper in fact "breathes" and absorbs what is in the surrounding atmosphere. Humidity is its first enemy, but so are temperature variations, dust, insects and light. In this case it is necessary to provide that the frame has a front glass that protects it as much as possible from all these factors. There are very thin glasses for this purpose that can absorb most of the UVA rays and treated in such a way as to minimize reflections. It is important to leave a margin between the edge of the work and the frame to give more breathing space to the representation. The works are mounted on a very wide sheet of cardboard, paper or linen, so that there is a wide margin preferably of a light color called passepartout between the frame and the image.

For optimal results

white frames

Many collectors and artists have a discerning eye when it comes to frames, making the choice decidedly professional. Do not underestimate your taste and the importance your work has for you: it must be visually attractive and at the same time please you in the soul. Take your time to choose a quality frame. You will see that even future generations will be grateful to you.

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