Picture Framing and Art Preservation/frame & mat suggestions


52 creation
52 creation  
5 eagle
5 eagle  
QUESTION: hello...here are pictures 5 (eagle), 52 (creation), 83 (child) they re all 16 x 24 on paper, mixed media, mostly acrylic ... if you have a moment I would appreciate your suggestions for matting and framing these.  thanks much!

p.s. 2 are on this post the other in another post

ANSWER: It's hard to give you a definitive answer without knowing more about the artwork and your plans for them. If I were in a store and you brought these to me there would be two things I would ask before we even considered mat or frames.

First, tell me a bit about these. Where did you get them? Who is the artist? Second, where will these be hanging? Tell me a bit about the room. What color are the walls? What sort of furniture is in the room?

The first question is to get an idea of what the art means to you, the customer. Sometimes a customer has a piece of artwork that is utilitarian: the image is nice but they have no particular emotional attachment to it and they really just need to fill a space on the wall. Or maybe it's something mom gave you, you don't really care for it but she's visiting this weekend. In those cases something fairly simple is all the customer wants or needs. On the other hand it could be artwork with great emotional meaning, maybe something their daughter painted or a work by their favorite artist. In those cases we want to be sure it looks special.

The second question is sometimes misunderstood. We are not trying to match the framing to the sofa and curtains. We're framing the art, not the furniture. The question is meant to get a sense of the customer's personal style and a sense of the room's appearance so that we can choose framing that will let the artwork live there comfortably. We most likely wouldn't want to put a heavily ornamented gold frame in a Arts & Crafts style room.

So, I can give you some suggestions but please keep in mind that in a vacuum, they may or may not end up being the best choices for you.

With the eagle, I would look for a mat that was mostly white but with a small tint of blue to coordinate with the background. Given the size, a skimpy mat border would not be well-suited at all, so I would look at 4 inches of matting top and sides, and 4 1/2 on the bottom. It needs a dark element for separation, so a second mat or a fillet in a dark color similar to the feathers or the smudge of black. For the frame, I would look for a very dark or black wood frame that allows some of the grain to show through.

For Creation it would be interesting to go with an all-black frame treatment. A black mat would highlight the lighter elements in the art and carry across the idea of light and creation from dark and nothingness. A black frame, maybe with a small accent of silver would carry the theme through.

Regardless of the final appearance, I would strongly recommend using reversible and non-invasive mounting for these originals and UV filtering glass.

I'll answer the other one in its own post.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you sooo much for your response.  I really do appreciate your thoughtful answer & your time.

I will take your responses with me to the framing store and try to see them through your descriptions here.

just as a FYI, unfortunately, I do move a lot and I very much have to frame the art, for the art, rather than the room; as I don't always have control of paint & furnishings.  But I always make sure I have my art!  At one point I thought of framing the art all in a similar manner so they were tied together. But if it came framed, I decided not to re-frame, especially if the artist chose the frame. So I have eclectic framing.

All three pieces are by the artist Shawn Foote. When asked, he suggested natural unfinished wood, un-matted if possible.

thank you : )

Framing for the art, and in a fairly neutral scheme if it works for the art, is definitely a good approach. Framing is a bit of an investment if done well and it would be  shame to spend good money on framing only to find that it no longer works for you when you repaint your room or go with a totally new décor.

And a note about buying artwork that the artist has framed: I certainly mean no insult to artists, but you don't always have to take it as the "artist's vision" if it is framed thinking that it is some sort of sacrosanct relic that must be preserved for fear of ruining the intent of the artist. The truth is, a lot of artists treat framing as an afterthought and a necessary evil just to sell art. Also they have no idea what sort of taste the person buying the art will have, so they tend to go for the simplest and most inexpensive framing possible.

For instance, I have been in the position of working with a customer who has brought in a piece of artwork matted by the artist. The mat was low-quality board and not cut very well with rough edges and big overcuts. The artist put it in that mat simply to make it easier to handle and sell, with the thought that the purchaser would change it when it was framed. But because the mat came from the artist, the customer thought it was a part of the artist's "vision" and wouldn't let me change it.

Just something to keep in mind, and a good question to ask when you are buying art.  

Picture Framing and Art Preservation

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David Lantrip, MCPF, GCF


I can answer questions about all aspects of framing, with special emphasis on preservation framing. Categories of artwork include works of art on paper, needlework, textiles, paintings on canvas and three-dimensional objects. Components of framing includes frames, glass/glazing, mats, mounting, their features and how to select them.


I have been a professional picture framer and educator in the field since 1994, including framing education for a major franchisor encompassing three brands and the Professional Picture Framers Association, and writing and teaching for DECOR Magazine.

Professional Picture Framers Association (PPFA) > Board member, PPFA > Member, Certification Board > Member, Chapter relations Committee National Society, Sons of the American Revolution (NSSAR)

DECOR Magazine, 2005 - 2010 PPFA For Members Only newsletter Member of the PPFA Guidelines task force, assisted in writing PPFA Guidelines for Framing Works of Art on Paper and PPFA Guidelines for Framing Works of Art on Canvas, and PPFA Guidelines for Framing Textiles and Needlework. Picture Framing Magazine, 2012

Georgia State University, many classes as a student and educator through the Professional Picture Framers Association and DECOR Magazine. Current member of the PPFA guidelines task force and certification board.

Awards and Honors
Earned Certified Picture Framer (CPF) designation in 1996, Master Certified Picture Framer (MCPF) designation in 2004 and Guild Commended Framer (GCF) status in 2008.

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