Updated: Dec 29, 2019
Framing your canvas painting has an artistic and practical benefit: it’ll make your painting pop, and preserve it for years to come. The right frame will transform even the smallest artwork to become a bold flair of personality. Thankfully, you don’t have to be a curator at the MOMA or the Louvre to pick the right frame. Framing canvas wall art is about experimentation, and complementing the essence of your piece.
Not sure where to start? We’ll help you with 5 tips to frame your artwork below:
1. Match the tone, not the colours
It’s tempting to match the colours of your frame to your furniture. You might think that monochromatic colour harmony will make the room more sophisticated and consistent. However, a frame that doesn’t match your room can actually make it less monotonous, and more dynamic. Instead of matching colours, consider matching the tone of a frame to its painting instead. This can transform the artwork into the centrepiece of the room as a compelling contrast instead of something that blends in.
2. Consider the frame’s material
If you’ve ever seen a Caravaggio piece, you may have noticed the elegant, Baroque frames that border his oil paintings. Frames tend to go with art created in the same time period. For more traditional, classical portraits, this can mean wood or antique gold material that extends past the face of the artwork. For more modern, minimalistic canvases, this can mean no more than a solid, black outline made of metal. Research what art period your piece falls into, and consider adopting the same framing style as it was done then.
3. Don’t supersize your frame
Just like time periods, larger frames work with larger paintings. A frame that’s too large can distract your visitor’s eyes away from the piece. We imagine that you’d rather have the focus on a brave painting made by an emerging artist than on your John Lewis bought frame. To avoid this hiccup, opt for delicate, smaller frames for paintings that have soft watercolour or pastel touches. Floating frames are also available to create an invisible “finish” for pieces that you think could use a neutral, barely there mount.
4. Play with colour theory
Colour theory is a great tool to show you how different colours embolden each other. When you look at the colour wheel, you can see what colours will suit each other by looking at the ones across it. For example, a cerulean blue will pop against a tangerine orange in an art piece. So, let’s imagine you’re interested in the original abstract piece, Windy Thoughts, pictured below. You might consider combining the piece with a moody blue frame to embolden the yellow splashes of colour, and bring its azure tones to the forefront.
5. Experiment like a Picasso
Art history shows us that sometimes the best art was created by thinking outside the box. Yet, even Pablo Picasso started by taking inspiration from El Greco. Don’t be afraid to look at your local framers for inspiration, or experiment with techniques that people think are too daring to try. Sometimes even large, ornate frames can help a smaller piece make a statement by giving it a contemporary edge. Don’t be shy to reach out to your local framer at a nearby Selfridges or Debenhams; but then don’t be scared to make unconventional creative decisions either.
There are no hard and fast rules to framing your wall art. Yet, that flexibility for so many possibilities can be exactly what paralyses you from choosing a beautiful frame. Ultimately, it’s best to go with your gut… And a designer’s tip or two for when you’re totally lost.