October 24, 2019 on Lessons, News by steve

Framing, why do it????

The answer to the question might seem self-evident. We frame to “improve” a work, right?

Well no, not really. A good frame can put add value to picture but will not perform miracles. The frame will bring out the colors of a painting, can delimit the composition, can help tie together the decoration of a room and the work hanging but these are obvious things for most people.

The reality is that a frame is a like the guardian of the work.

Indeed, an unframed or, worse, poorly framed work will have a good chance of deteriorating, of being damaged and, of course, losing its market value. Worse still, a poorly framed work could be ruined by its surroundings, ambient light, smoke – from a fireplace or tobacco -, humidity and all kinds of situations and events that are not even considered at the moment of acquisition of a painting.

Let’s start with the basic frames.

When you buy a work on canvas, whether it is painted with oil or acrylic, it is, more often than not, stretched on a stretcher that keeps it taut when being painted or hung on a wall.

One of the points to note is that often this stretcher will be of relatively low quality and will only allow a very questionable stability to the painting.

It is then that one understands the importance of having a painting framed by a professional framer.

We all know these prints and poster stores that offer low cost framing services. If these are often acceptable, it is rare enough that they hire trained professional framers. The frames they propose are rarely “conservation grade”…

A professional framer will advise you on the type of framing but, also, will analyze the montage of the painting and make, if necessary, corrections essential to the conservation of the work.

For paintings on panels, the work can become quite more complicated. Supports vary widely – from the Masonite to wood and cardboard, the framing method and the type of frame will vary significantly and the result also based on the experience, talent and knowledge of the framer. They may have to solidify the support by “marouflage” or adding wood supports to the back of the board. A good framer often has a role of curator.

Which brings us to works on paper. 


The framing of works on paper – watercolors, pastels, drawing, photographs, documents, requires knowledge and training that is usually lacking to the amateur framers who often work at the aforementioned merchants.

A work on paper is an entity, for any useful purpose, almost alive. The type of paper, the medium used, the age of the work or document, its condition, the preconditions for conservation are all elements that will influence the framer’s choice.

A good framer will ask about the conditions in which you intend to exhibit the work, the type of light that will bathe it, the level of humidity, etc. They will help you to choose the type of mounting that is most appropriate for the project and will advise you on the type of glass that will protect it. They will also offer you options regarding the frame material used – wood, plastic, resin, metal, acrylic…

A good framer will advise you on the support to be used at the back of the work – PH neutral paper or other – and ensure the durability of a legacy that will last well beyond your own existence.

They will also advise you in choosing the origin of the proposed frameworks, from the recognized quality of Italian manufacturers to low-cost frames produced in Asia.

Finally, a good framer should have enough artistic knowledge to advise you on visual and aesthetic concerns related to your framing project and should know the resources needed to refer you to the appropriate professionals if your treasures need restoration, cleaning or other specialized work.

Framing, what is it for? It serves to provide all the essential care for the preservation and exhibition of your treasures and to guarantee a long life in safety and beauty.

Steve Pearson

Le Balcon d’art