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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.

Monday, February 13, 2012


Okay, so you have bought an oil painting, perhaps at an art fair, and it is not framed and the staples show on the side of the canvas.    Most (but not all) oil paintings are done on stretched canvas.    Some artists use more expensive stretched canvas stapled on the back, and then paint the edges that show, so a frame is not necessarily required.    Some don't, believing that their paintings really need a frame to show to best advantage.   It is a matter of taste, opinion, and your pocketbook.

If you need to cover the sides, but don't have any money after you have just spent it all on the artwork, you can always get some thin lath at Home Depot, nail it to the edges and hang it (hopefully temporarily) that way.

The next least expensive option (assuming you are not a carpenter) is to buy a ready made frame at a discount store or an art supply store such as Michael's.    Wait for a sale.   They happen frequently.   This only works if your painting is a standard size.

If you can't find a ready-made frame, and you can't build a frame yourself, you will have to go to a custom frame shop.   These are also found in stores that sell Art Supplies, as well as stand-alone custom frame shops.

The simplest frame is plain wood or metal.   You will select something (called a molding) from which the frame will be made.    The depth of the molding is important.    It should cover, or nearly cover, the full depth of the canvas.   Otherwise you will see the canvas sticking out the back of the frame when viewed from the side.

Very often, you will also want a liner.    This is a fabric covered  piece than goes between the painting and the outer frame.   It is often cream or white linen.    But there are lots of options, many colors, fabrics such as velvet or burlap or leather.     If a liner is in your budget it can really enhance a painting.    A soft floral painting with a pale velvet liner in a complimentary color and a gold baroque frame can be very striking.    A strong bright abstract might benefit from a wide liner of bright white or some color in the painting and a strong gold, brass or silver colored narrow metal frame with a good depth.    The point is, you can really bring the painting to life as a focal point in your room with a good choice of framing.     You should also consider where you plan to place the painting.   What works well in one room might be overwhelming in another.    That is one reason (besides cost) that artists don't often frame their canvases - the best frame may depend on where the painting is going to live.  And some paintings really don't need frames - ones that are too overpowering can distract.

The third thing you can use is a lip.   This is a very narrow piece of wood, usually gold or silver, sometimes wood, that goes between the liner and the canvas.   Depending on the picture it can be very effective.    It can also look like overkill.

On ready-made frames you will often find a lip, a liner, and an outer frame -- though on the less expensive ones these may appear to all be one piece.    They are usually gold-white-gold or brown-white-brown combinations.

A good custom frame shop can help you pick something out for your painting.   But be aware that custom framing is expensive, as is most custom work.    The custom framer will also install the painting into the frame (called fitting).   This involves securing the frame to the canvas (without damaging it), covering the back with paper of some sort as a dust cover, and installing a wire or other hardware to hang it.   They should also give you a good hook.   Note - if you want a metal frame that is not a standard size you will have to use a custom framer unless you have special tools and can find uncut metal picture frame molding.    A custom framer can also re-stretch a canvas onto a narrower stretcher bar if desired to fit a less deep frame, or to remove any looseness.   Note - some "warbling" can be removed by spraying the back of the canvas with water - lightly please!

If you choose to do the fitting yourself, you will need to fasten the frame to the canvas (be careful not to damage the canvas or split the frame).    For wood frames you can use small finishing nails.    Metal frames use brackets which usually come with the frame.   You do not really need to paper-back, but it is a nice touch.   You can buy wire and various types of hangers at hardware stores.   Be SURE to use big enough hardware to hold the weight!

Last note today -- If you buy ready-made metal frames you usually have to buy two packages - one for the height and one for the width.     Be sure the one you buy is deep enough to cover your canvas.