Framing - what frame to choose?

Pollarded willows, charcoal and pastel in limed ash frame or black frame, framed it's about 3ft

Selecting frames is difficult.   The frame can make or break a picture - but it also has to fit in with a buyers house.

I notice this makes for a huge difference in opinions on framing between the US, UK and the continent when discussing framing with friends.  American friends always seem to go for dark dark wood, continental friends like more ornate frames, in England we tend to go for pale, minimalist framing - it so much depends on the surroundings in which they are to be hung as well as the image itself.

Originally I had framed the piece above in limed ash with an antique white (pale cream) mat/mount but wasn't at all happy with it.   I hadn't thought enough about it.   The drawing has a lot of darks with compressed charcoal as well as deep colour, is 'heavy' and the frame didn't stand up to it, seeming too pale and insubstantial.   The pale limed ash, paler than in the photo, didn't echo anything in the image or match it's mood, which is does with the seascapes I do.  I made the decision to go with black for the recent exhibition and liked it much better - it played up the drama of the winter light.

The limed ash  goes really well with the seascapes, as does white. It's very easy to feel that framing must 'match'  when hung together, no matter what the painting.   Sometimes it's necessary to break away into something totally different for the paintings sake.

I think I'll definitely be using black again where it enhances colour and makes it sing against the darkness.   What I'll do in future is limit framing to mainly the limed ash, black or white so that there aren't too many different elements going on.

I experimented with a black frame, digitally,  for the recent still life and like the effect of black with the rich colour, enhancing the glow - one of the reasons I like black as the background to my blog.

Frames need to enhance the image and not compete.   A frame that is too fancy or brightly coloured can mean that you are looking at the frame more than the image.

What do you think?   What influences your framing?  How do you frame?


dinahmow said…
If it's going to hang on my walls it can't fight with all the other pictures!
I tend to favour narrow frames
and I like the mat/frame to harmonise with the picture.Sometimes, this means choosing coloured frames.
And the budget often means living with a less-than-perfect frame til I can afford to change it!(Budget constraints also see me buying frames from op shops and storing them.:-) )
vivien said…
yes, that's another reason I used the limed ash - it really goes with my house but even in the limed ash, the painting didn't fit in the living room - too dominant - in the hall it was fine.

it just cried out for more drama - it needs to be hung where it can glow alone!

This frame is narrow but the mat is quite wide - I did this digitally as I didn't want the hassle of unwrapping it from it's cocoon of bubble wrap
Jeanette said…
Yes, different geographic areas seem to go with different trends in framing. Here, its dark wood most of the time, I'd say 99% of my frames are black, the mats vary but are neutral and usually a double mat with 1/8" perhaps in the second picking up a colour of the painting.

For this piece, it has to be the black mat and frame. It really sets off the image and gives it drama. Perhaps an inner 1/8 - 1/4 inch of pale blue to set off the water/sky and contrast with the black mat?
vivien said…
that could look interesting Jeanette - I'll think about that one. :>)

I painted the frame myself and need to do a little more so it would be possible before I finish it off.

I usually do the double mats too - they just look so much better.
I have this problem when I paint non seascape subjects too. Like you a whitened ash is what I normally use - the grain is nice with ash and it is a very hard wood which stands upto travelling between exhibitions. I'm starting to use dull silver and pewter frames which I find give a bit more oomph to non-blue paintings (normally with antique or snow white textured mounts). They seem to be quite popular at the moment and the slight reflective quality means they can fit in with a lot of decor. - personally at home we have a complete mix of frames, what ever suits the painting.

Your painting has a lot more impact in the dark frame. I love the circular compositions you use.
Lorna said…
I generally go for the cheaper frame in a light wood because it is the "fashion". However, at least 25% of my customers reframe within the first year.
Sarah Wimperis said…
I am becoming obsessed with framing quandaries, I stick with a soft grey for mine, burnished and them lime waxed, different mouldings, some wider, depending on the paintings. I love the black for yours Viv, from what I am seeing at the art fairs gold is becoming popular, but really well made frames, with proper guilding. Actually that's the thing that is most important, being a well made frame, I think.
Ian said…
For me the frame and mount are a part of the picture, so on occasions I have selected quite an bright colour moulding to pick up something from the image. I have also decorated the mount too with mixed media pieces, using stamps or shapes from the main image. I haven't yet gone so far as painting over the frame like Howard Hodgkin.
vivien said…
I like lime waxing, over grey as well, though haven't used it. I really liked the unglazed watercolours you did some time back Sarah in white and keep meaning to try your method without glass.

I totally agree that they have to be well made, nothing spoils the work more than a badly made frame.

Personally, I never go bright Ian but I can see that it would be suitable for some work. I always want the frame to be a support and not compete - and for my current work it isn't part of the image.

I saw a wonderful Howard Hodgkin exhbition at the Hayward Gallery a long time back that just glowed against the grim grey concrete - and the painting on the frames worked well for him.

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