Framing your artwork plays a major role in bringing out its beauty. To make a smart frame selection, consider color, style and scale (width and depth). Your selected frame may blend or contrast with the artwork or mat. Blending colors will bring a subtlety to the design whereas a stronger contrast will be more dramatic.
It is common to choose a frame that matches or relates to the style of the artwork, but it isn't always necessary! When framing traditional or classical artwork it is desirable to choose a matching style. When framing contemporary artwork it can be fun to intentionally choose an unexpected style to add interest. There should be a relationship between the art and frame but it may come from a pattern on the moulding replicating the look of something in the artwork itself.
Choosing an appropriate width and depth frame is very important. The frame needs to be substantial enough to physically support the size and weight of the artwork. A frame should also look supportive of the visual weight of the artwork. It is important not to overwhelm the artwork with the frame. The frame and mat combination is there to compliment the art, not compete with it.
The depth of a frame should be able to accommodate all the contents that will accompany the art, including glass, mats, backings, etc. Deeper frames than needed can also be used to project the art outward or recess it to add depth. Here is a general guide that should help you pick the right frame thickness for your artwork:
- 1/2 - 2 inch width frame for artworks up to 11 X 14
- 2 - 3 inch width frame for artworks up to 16 X 20
- 3 - 4 inch width frame for artworks greater than 16 X 20
You do not need to match your frames to your furniture finishes or colors! If you have a lot of dark wood furniture in your room, try lightning up the art with contrasting frame colors. Pieces next to each other should have the same frame, but again this is not a rule!
Mats come in a number of colors and tones and the choice should be made depending on the color of the frame and the dominant colors in the artwork. Exactly how you match the colors is a matter of taste, but a basic rule is to choose a discreet mat that does not detract attention from the picture. If you are double or triple matting your artwork, the outside (top) mat is typically 2 inches and can be as wide as 6 inches. The inner mats are usually 1/4 of an inch. Neutral mats will work for most art. On artwork with warm colors, use off white or cream mats. On artwork with cool colors, use off white or grey mats.
Valuable artwork should always be matted using conservation-quality mat boards. All mats shown with a Conservation Icon are of conservation quality - made of pristine virgin fibers. Conservation mats are acid and lignin free, alkaline pH buffered, and are fade resistant. Conservation mats are ideal for preserving valuable artwork and meet or exceed industry standards for conservation.