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Wrendesign is an artist-owned company showcasing about 400 original paintings and also offering a section on illustrated children's stories online which can be downloaded free for single use. This blog is maintained by one of the resident artists. To see our website please click on link above.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

How to Frame Paintings if the Canvas on the Sides of the Stretcher Bar Are Painted Also

Many paintings, both oils and acrylics, are done on stretched canvases where the sides are painted.   The sides may be painted black or a solid color or the painting itself may extend around the sides.

This may be because the artist thought the painting looked better without a frame, or it may be just because a frame is expensive and cumbersome and heavy for shipment, and may not be what the client wants in the end anyway.   Very often paintings displayed in galleries are hung without frames.

If you like your painting the way it is, just hang it and be happy.   This is very common today, especially with abstract paintings. 

If you prefer it framed there are two options.

One - if the stretcher bar is narrow - some are only 3/4", you can just put it into a standard frame (if it is a standard size) or pick something out at your custom framers.

Two - if it is a wide stretcher bar you will have to consider that.   A 2" stretcher bar won't fit in most standard frames without making the finished picture stick out from the wall too far.   If that is the case you can:

   A. Choose a frame with a deep rabbit (that's what they call the cut inside the molding that actually holds the picture.)   You can find some that have a deep rabbit - usually they are fall-away frames.

   B. Have your custom framer take the canvas off the wide stretcher bar and put it on a narrower one.  Then frame it as you normally would.
Canvases are often removed from stretcher bars.   This may be to:
   1. Reframe it on a narrower bar
   2. Tighten a loose canvas
   3. Facilitate shipment (it is much cheaper to roll up a big canvas and ship it in a tube than to crate a very large painting.

What the framer often cannot do is save the part of the picture that is painted on the edge of the stretcher bar. Generally the artist does not expect this part to be saved, they painted it merely to facilitate hanging in the gallery without a frame - some artists and galleries think it looks much better than painting the edges black.

When the framer restretches the canvas onto a new (or old) stretcher bar, it is difficult or sometimes impossible to line up the edges exactly as they were.    The creases will show.   This is no problem if you are using a frame.    If you are not using a frame, the edges will probably have to be touched up in places, which may or may not be a satisfactory solution. 

We are sometimes asked if the painting cannot be "expanded" so the edges will become part of the flat surface.   This is not really an option.   The perspective will not look right, and the corners will not be painted as they have been folded under.

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