Wednesday, June 9, 2010

You Frame, I Frame, We all Frame

You go to an outdoor art fair. You spend days if not weeks, preparing your work for the show. Many hours of deliberation is spent on deciding whether you should bring this piece of work or that. Should I frame this, or not. Should I use wood or metal. Gold or silver. The list goes on.
So recently, after many shows and feedback from customers, I finally decided to give up the framing of my paintings. And this is why.
Depending on the location of the show, and what I'm going to bring, it would be almost impossible to have at my disposal quality frames for what ever pieces I decide to bring. I have volumes of work, and they take up more than their share of space where I live, never mind them having to be shelved with frames. First of all, I couldn't afford to frame everything I do, secondly, if I did, the frames would be non salable in a very short time after a few shows, with the rough handling that occurs. Rain, nicks, bumps, chocolate cupcake stained edges from curious youths, dust from wind, etc. People who want frames, want good frames. At the most, I could only afford to use a lower quality frame for so many works.
To get to the point, if I frame my work, there are many things that present a problem, and make my framing mute.

1. The person may like the work, and not the frame.
2. The person may like the work, but want another color or type of frame that matches their decor.
3. The frame may not be what the person envisions for this work.
4. The frame has been nicked or soiled being in so many shows it turns them away from the art.
5. The conversation turns more to frames than it does your work.

There are more, but the final reason, is this... with my type of expressionist work, most people see the frame as in the way. An obstruction. Maybe thats because the painting deserves the attention that only a frame shop can give it, to match it too the ultimate frame to compliment its look. This I can not accommodate.
When I did have frames at one time, many buyers of my art, asked if I could remove the painting from the frame, as the frame was less than what they envisioned for it. Other people would need the work to be easily transportable to get it back to their home, via plane, car, train or whatever.
I would hear statements like this. " I love the painting, but I hate the frame" or "do you have this in a mauve frame, or with no gloss?" or .. "I really would like to frame it myself, .. framing is such a personal thing,,, you understand?"

So I have finally given up on my vain attempts to make my paintings more salable using frames. At the most, I'll use a wooden strip lattice, just so they can have the edges protected, and they pop right off, if the buyer doesn't like them, or for transport reasons.

So, to frame, or not to frame. I know a lot of you consider that this is the crowning touch to your work, but I seriously think this privilege belongs to the buyer, and professional framer, which I confess that I'm not. I'm an artist, not a framer. Let the frame shops frame, and let the painters paint.
So, now when I finish a painting, I make sure the painting has the sides painted, so its already hang ready, and I make sure there is a hanger wire on the back. They are appealing, and with my kind of paintings, it looks appropriate. Not presumptuous or in your face. Just a painting, to look like a painting, and ready for whatever you want it to be dressed in.
So, for me, frames belong in homes and museums, not in my studio. Interior decoration is best left up to professionals as to how the painting will live out its life on the walls.
So anyway, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.


  1. GREAT story! I had some pieces in an art auction not too long ago and you could tell people spent top dollar on framing...But when I've sold work online or to friends and family, they definitely prefer to choose their own frame OR have no frame at all!!

  2. Thanks for your comment Brigitte. Auctions are a place where I think people expect the whole tamale. Kind of like an archival museum feeding frenzy of high expectations. Like Christie's or Sotheby's. I just have had so much conflict with the framing, I decided to go "bare art".
    I'll see how it goes this year, and probably, come up with another opinion. Ha!