How do you choose a frame that works for your art?

Framing artwork can be a difficult subject to get our heads around.  In this blog I’m going to be exploring ideas around framing paintings and pictures and try to give some advice on which frames to use when and why.

Frame both enhance and protect, however choosing the right frame it is so much more than that. In fact, it’s a whole art and science in itself.


From a purely practical point of view frames provide protection from dirt dust and scratches caused by everyday life while some mediums require UV protection. Watercolours for instance could become faded if they left in direct sunlight without the UV protection that glass provides.

Acrylic on paper

Oils and acrylics are more robust than water colours or drawings however paintings or drawings in any medium, which is on paper or card will require a suitable mount and to be protected behind glass. The Mount lifts the glass away from the artwork surface both for protection and allows the viewer to appreciate the artwork more clearly. It will also provide an extra border further framing the artwork within the frame. (This must be taken into consideration when purchasing and preparing your new artworks ready to hang as it will reduce the area of the work visible.)

Acrylics and oils are long lasting mediums and do not require the same UV protection as water colours and pencil drawings in fact they look better when you can appreciate the colours and texture directly without the barrier of glass in place.

Choosing frames

Once a decision has been made as to whether to mount behind glass or open to the elements the next decision is what type of frame to use light or dark thin or heavy floating or fully encapsulated.

The decisions that you make will be based on the type of art personal preference and the interior design in which your precious objects will be displayed.

When choosing frames the golden rule is to let the artwork speak for itself and to remember that the frame is intended to just that, frame the work. The colour of mouldings can be either complementary or contrasting, matt or high gloss.  They key though is that whatever the choice they should enhance and complement the artwork and not detract or draw the eye away.  

More classical landscapes, portrait or still lives often are enhanced by the heavy gold and scrolled frames in which they have been traditionally been mounted. In this case the very weight of the frame contributes to the overall importance of the piece and enhances the view is experience.

Conversely contemporary works typically benefit from the clean lines and modern styles whether the smallest of borders floating away from the canvases edge or a more fulsome encapsulating frame. Between these two extremes are all manner of possibilities, dependant on personal preference. Which is not to say that you can’t make bold choices and pair heavy guilts with pop art or oversized frames with very small paintings.


The best advice is to picture the painting in your home and to decide whether it works in harmony with the interior design in which it will sit. I would advise using one of the many apps available online to visualise the painting within its frame before you commit to one particular style and also to experiment with cropping the photo into a picture of the room in which it will eventually sit.

Don’t panic

Finally, it’s important to remember that nothing is fixed and there are no hard and fast rules. Life is all about choices and if you want to offset at your abstract masterpiece against an antique frame you are free to do so safe in the knowledge that you can always change Your mind later!

The main thing is to enjoy the journey and have fun experimenting with new styles.

if you have any thoughts or advice on framing art please leave your comments below .

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