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Framing Paintings – Some Thoughts

January 26, 2013

Framing Paintings – Some Thoughts

By Carolyn Henderson.

In any painting, the biggest expenditure for the artist is the frame that goes around the finished piece. If it is a watercolor painting, there’s the matting, the glazing, and the frame holding it all together; for the oil on canvas or acrylic work, it’s “just” the frame, but depending upon the size of the finished work, “just” the frame isn’t cheap.

(Picture on the right: “Bayside” oil painting by Steve Henderson)

In the same way that fine houses are built bit by bit, with craftsmanship, so are businesses. Build the price of the frame into your work and ensure that you receive the profit you need to keep growing.

While for some oil painting and acrylic pieces, gallery framing — keeping the edges deep and painting them black or an extension of the work on the front — is a pleasing and inexpensive option. But not all works or subject matters lend themselves to this treatment. And watercolors on paper can’t be dealt with in this way at all. So what do you do to keep from sinking more money than you want into framing your painting works? First, what you don’t do: buy cheap used frames in second hand stores and “recycle” your works in them. Yes, this can work but not if you’re planning to charge more than very little for your paintings. Yes, it’s green, but a battered used frame doesn’t send the message to the buyer, “This is a classy painting worth the high price I put on it.” Accept that there is no unbar cheap option for framing your work. After you’ve accepted this fact of life,

1) Research online framing establishments for solid, basic frame models (sometimes they’re called plein air frames) in black, gold, stained wood, or silver. Skip the cheap but avoid the most expensive.

2) Frames come in standard sizes and custom-made ones, the latter more expensive. Keep your painting canvases in the standard sizes.

3) Build the price of the frame into your work.

4) And when you sell a painting, set aside funds from the sale for the framing of your next piece.

Submitted by Janet S.

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