Can you choose just any old frame for a painting? Well, you could, but don’t tell the artist. This means that the frame has, among its many other functions, the job of complimenting the work of art. In other words, the frame is not merely a means of hanging a painting on a wall.
But choosing the right frame is almost as difficult as choosing the painting you wanted in the first place.
So what does a frame do? Frames have a number of functions. One of these is to add to the physical stability of the painting and help keep it from being damaged. Another is to separate the painting from the wall. Aside from this, the frame can be very aesthetically pleasing.
Frames can be made out of anything; wood, plastic, metal, paper, stone or even glass. Most common are the wooden frames, although environmentally friendly plastic frames are becoming more popular. As techniques improve frames can be manufactured from compressed polystyrene with real wood effect. Not only do they look like the real thing, but they are lighter, cheaper, stronger and more durable – all this without needing to chop a tree down.
When choosing your frame it is important to consider the architectural style of the room in which the painting is to hang, as you will want to compliment this style. You also want to decide of you want to use the frame to draw attention to the painting as the focal point of the room or whether you want to have it blend into the décor.
Another important thing to consider is the width of the frame. With smaller pictures it may be of value to use a wider frame as long as this can help draw the eyes towards the centre. This larger frame will also help the painting take up more wall space. With medium and large painting a narrower frame is best, so that it does not over power the piece. When in doubt, go narrower rather than risk too wide.
The colour of the frame is a difficult choice, and it really depends upon what painting you’re framing and what your own taste is. Black and silver generally go with everything and so are quite safe bets. Black will make the painting look neater, whilst silver will brighten it up. Wood finishes are great, but they must match up with the decoration of the room where the painting will hang. The most popular colour for larger paintings is gold, as this will make the painting appear to glow. Be careful with gold however, as it can easily become overpowering. Wood with a gold highlight is a good compromise for those wishing to remain a little more discrete.
Don’t forget that you don’t actually need a frame for a painting. Some people choose to make wall hangings from just the canvas. Also, you can stretch the painting over a wooden frame as normal, but then not add the outer decorative frame. This creates a very minimalist look, which works well for more modern paintings such as pop art, but can ruin some of the older masters. If you choose this route, be sure to allow for the extra canvas which will be needed to cover the sides of the stretching frame, as without an outer frame this part will become visible.
Whether you have a professional do the framing or you pick it out and do it yourself, choosing the right frame will add value and beauty to your painting. This is not an area in which you want to skimp on price. After all, you paid for the painting. Now frame it well and show it off.