Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Framing tips for pochades


Praia Mole, December 4, 2015, oil on card, 18.5 x 24.5 cm

I'm sometimes asked for advice on framing pochades. Obviously, what is best is ultimately a subjective decision, but here are some points to consider.

1. Framing is interpretation.

A frame contextualizes a picture,  associating it with certain decorative styles. 

A modern, metal frame will emphasize the contemporaneity of a picture and associate it with modern environments- offices, minimalist houses or modern art galleries. Contrariwise, a gilded frame will imply that the painting is related stylistically to work of the pre-modern period and suitable for hanging in a pre-modern decorative scheme.

So, before framing, it is wise to consider where the picture will be hung. Your choice of frame will vary according to whether it is to feature in a bedroom, a living room, a modern house, an office and so forth. A gilt frame might be lovely ina  period home, but odd in a modernist glass tower block.

Clearly these are general guidelines and with wit can happily be ignored.

2. Have a look around!

 I sometime suggest people look in the National gallery and in the Print rooms of the British Museum for references when it comes to framing ideas for my pochades.. Obviously, these collections will be inconveniently  located for some readers. But there are good collections for reference close or in most major cities, and it is wise to have a notion before entering a framers. 

Puno, a lady in a red skirt, oil on card, 12 x 14 cm 

Here may be seen reflections, the effect of which are worsened by the darker passepartout. 
Nonetheless, the effect of these reflections is marginal, I think.

3. Glazed or not? 

The pochades are oil on card, and are liable to pick up dust. Thus, from the standpoint of protecting the pochade, glazing is considerably better.  You can glaze in non-reflective glass or ordinary glass. Non-reflective glass this tends to be less clear than normal glass and I would say, on balance, less visibility is lost to small pictures because of reflections than is lost because of the slight fogginess of non- reflective glass.

Ergo, it is better with small pictures such as mine to go with ordinary glass, It is also cheaper.

Green Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, a view, oil on card, 16 x 18 cm

4. Plain or fancy?

Seurat, as framed in London's National Gallery.

If you go to the National Gallery in London or the Met in New York, and look at the Impressionist pictures, or the small Biedermeier paintings by Danish or German artists you'll see that many are framed in very ornate frames. At times this is effective, but more often the effect is heavy, even somewhat absurd, as the frames seem to overwhelm the pictures and imply that the artist had a decorative intent to his work which we know is very unlikely to be the case (Renoir's horrors being an exception, in the case of the Impressionists). 

At times, an ornate frame can, however, when used with a passepartout, have an enchanting effect, especially when contrasting with a very simple painting,

Personally, I recommend going for simpler frames. They allow pictures to be hung in a wider variety of places, are easier to keep clean and are much easier to match with pictures. I also recommend them because I feel my pictures to be fairly straightforward and down to earth, and I find ornate frames somewhat pretentious, I tend to prefer wood, as it gives a warmer effect than metal,

5. What about a passepartout or mat?

These terms are used to describe the thick card that is used to hold the card in place within a frame.

A lot of people make the mistake of framing pictures too tightly: putting the frame too close to the edge of the picture, with a narrow passepartout or without one at all. The effect is uncomfortable, The picture needs to breathe. It's better to err on the generous side with a wide passepartout. So, if the picture is 14 x 18 cm then give it a passepartout of about 5 or 6 cm on each side.

The passepartout can be coloured- this will bring out colours within the picture. But I'd avoid going too bright with the passepartouts and stay with more muted or blander tones. Black is an option, but it has specific associations with photography and I think it often best avoided.

La Paz, shops, and carrier-within box frame.

6. Box frames. 

Yes, these can be very nice. They can be used to frame the pochades within the carriers I use to transport them.

7. Pay peanuts, get monkeys...

Generally, with framing, cost is proportional to quality. By all means shop around, but I've found that, more or less, you get what you pay for, The materials should be archival, the service pleasant and unhurried*, and the framer should understand basics of picture conservation.

*My experience of artisans and tradesmen being, alas, very much the following: Here am I trying to do my work and you come into my shop and disturb me.

Mocambique, paths, December 2016, oil on card, 19 x 22 cm  SOLD


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