A friend came to visit me this week and was telling me of her frustrations. She is new to art and through lack of planning had caused herself real angst. This friend, who is a textile artist, had sewn a beautiful work but having finished it found it was the wrong size for any of the mounts and frames she had. It was a non-standard size anyway, and being sewn, she couldn’t cut it down without damaging the piece. Thus, the only option she had was the expense of using a professional framer. Planning ahead before starting would have saved her this problem.
I know that some artists out there will be screaming at me about letting the work evolve by itself, and that you shouldn’t plan. Let spontaneity be the name of the game. To an extent I agree, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think about the end-product before you start the work.
You have a wonderful idea in your head about the piece of art you are going to create. You grab a sheet of paper, canvas, board – whatever substrate it is you work on – and you just unleash your creativity on it.
Standing back, you are delighted with the results but…you didn’t think about how the finished work was going to be displayed.
All of this could have been avoided with a little planning.
- Buy a substrate which fits into a standard frame so before you even start you know that the paper frame and mount card will all work together.
- Map out your work on a piece of paper the size of the substrate to see if it looks good. You should be planning your design before you start anyway so this shouldn’t be a big problem.
- Decide if you are going to have a matt around the finished work, how big you want the matt to be, will that fit in the standard frame size and will your work sit comfortably in that space.
You may find that you need to either scale-up or scale-down the work to fit in your chosen mount and frame, or instead find a larger or smaller frame and mount. If you have a specific size in mind to fit the space you in which you intend to display, measure it and use the measurements when picking out the elements you need to make a successful finished piece.
- When planning your work think about the colours you are going to use in your artwork and how best to present them. What colour mount do you want to use and what colour frame to suit the hanging space you have in mind? Sadly, even frames are subject to fashion and currently black, white, cream and light wood frames are “in”. Dark wood, Silver and Gold are not, and green mounts and frames are really not very popular. Even more sadly many customers chose artwork to match their furniture, wallpaper, curtains or cushion, I hear that collective sharp intake of breath from my fellow artists, but it is what it is and if you want to sell you work you will need to bear this in mind.
- Will you be placing your artwork under glass? Will that be the best option for your work? As a rule, oil, acrylic and encaustic paintings are not put under glass, but watercolours and photographs are, as are some textiles. Most handmade prints are under glass too. The use of glass often depends on delicacy of the end product.
I do know a couple of artists who will start out with an A1 size sheet of paper which, after many layers of paint or ink, they will then cut down according to the size they want to frame. They do this because of the freedom ‘working big’ gives them and when the big work doesn’t come out the way they intended they haven’t wasted their products, time and energy, and they just cut out the sections that have worked.
It is a great ‘get out’ but this only works if you work on paper, canvas which you are able to re-stretch, or board which you are able to cut down yourself.
Every artist has his/her own approach, and you will need to find the one which works best for you. If when you are starting out you make yourself a little check-list of your end goal, you will avoid the frustrations this lady had, you will eliminate the problem of framing and having to go to a professional framers, which can be expensive, when you are just starting out on your art journey and you haven’t yet made many sales yet.
But planning ahead like this you will feel much happier that your beautiful finished piece was easy to frame.
- Get substrate, mount board and frame together before you start you work to make sure the sizes work together.
- Resize your artwork to fit on the substrate if required
- If your work won’t resize in a way which you are happy with, start again. Find a substrate, mount board and frame which will give you what you want.
- Once you have the size figured-out, don’t forget to think about the colours. You want the work to sit well in the finished setup.
- Remember to consider whether, or not, your work should be framed under glass.