To Frame or Not to Frame - That Is the Question...Some thoughts and suggestions on framing artwork.


I’ve had a delivery from the great guys at Atlantis Art today with a shipment of large solid wood real glass frames for my largest original paintings for my show coming up as part of the 2014 Dulwich Festival / Artist Open House. While they are not cheap, they are beautiful and the fact that they are real wood (not MDF or remanufactured / reconstructed, no plastic) and real glass (not plastic / Perspex) and black means that they are exactly what I want for displaying my work.
Original Contemporary Artwork, Modern Colourful / Colorful Acrylic Paintings, by London based Artist Vera Blagev - Vera Vera On The Wall
Over the past few months, I’ve been doing quite a bit of research and experimentation on various frames and even on mounting paper work on canvas. I love to work on larger pieces, and as such, all of my original paintings are at least an A2 size (42.0 cm x 59.4 cm or 16.5 inches x 23.4 inches). By frame standards, this is on the larger size. As an artist, I fully realize that my work looks best when it’s framed. It gives the work more emphasis and really helps bring out the colours and the texture of the paintings. But quality framing is expensive, especially when you’re framing multiple pieces for a show, or you have lots of pieces in different shops / shows at the same time. I've scoured the shops and found some good frames in Cargo but even those I've had to repaint black. In the past, I confess I’ve tried the cheaper (and less fragile) plastic / MDF frames and even if they look okay for one show, they just don’t keep as well and they make the work look cheap. My husband has even kindly volunteered to make frames from scratch as a more cost effective way of getting what I want, but at the end of the day as another artist says, we are in the business of making art, not making frames.

I’ve also looked at mounting paper on canvas. Canvas seems to have the upper hand sometimes, since you can chose to frame or not frame which appeals to some customers. And there is the idea (not always true, especially with modern technology of paper and inks / pigments) that canvas work lasts longer. Initially, this was appealing to me – taking paper-based work and essentially gluing it to canvas for exhibition. But over the past few months, I’ve tried various techniques and done lots of research of how to mount paper artwork to canvas (binders, archival glue, acrylic mediums). The end result has left me a bit uninspired. Some of them look okay but others do not. And frankly, okay is not really what I’m going for in terms of how I want my original artwork to look. Sadly, I’ve ruined a few of my paintings in the experimentation process, but I see it all as the cost of doing business, so to speak. The end result of all this experimentation is not quite what I would have hoped for. And since the process is irreversible and fundamentally permanently changes the artwork completely, it’s something I’ve left to the side for now. At the end of the day, I chose to not work on canvas because I much prefer how paper shows the detail of water and colour flow in such a way that canvas cannot. And paper-based work deserves to be protected and shown off in a proper beautiful frame.

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