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Picture Framing and Art Preservation/Artwork size selection and proper balance.


I just installed a new mantle and have a nice canvas print picked out to hang.
The mantle is 69"
Wide and the height from the top of the mantle to just below the crown molding is 43". From floor to top of mantle is 50".
I've been looking at two sizes of prints; 30x40 and 20x40 horizontal prints.
The 30x 40 looks like it might fill up the space nicely, but may look to high if I were to center it between the top of the mantle and bottom of crown molding.Centering it would allow 6 1/2" on top and bottom.
With. The 20x40, it might be more at eye level, but may look lost on the wall.
So I'm looking for advice fir which size is better aesthetically.
Also have some sconces which will go on the wall as well.

I'd like to be able to give you a definitive answer and say Choice A or Choice B is the right way, but with things like this a lot of it comes down to "it depends."

If you go with the larger 40x30 you will have 6 1/2" of space between the top of the mantel and the bottom of the art and then the same amount of space above it. That will fill the space nicely but just keep in mind it doesn't leave a lot of room for any accessories on the mantle. With the smaller you will have 11 1/2' of room top and bottom, which isn't necessarily too much. If it looks like it's sort of "floating" there you can visually tie it to the mantle with some vertical accessories.

Part of it also depends on the art itself. If the larger one has a lot of visual weight (dark or bold colors, heavy shapes) it might be overpowering. If, on the other hand, it has lighter colors and shapes and less visual weight then it might be a better choice.

Here's a tip I use a lot that may help you decide: Get two large pieces of paper cut to the size of the art and hang them on the wall with some painter's tape, leave it up for a couple days and live with it. Then put the other up and do the same. See which works better for you.  

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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