I know that when I post paintings here, odds are you like some better than others. I know there will be paintings that won’t float your boat—and that’s all right—after all, if everyone liked the same paintings, we’d have fistfights at my show. Although there was that one time, when Nancy bought the painting Loretta liked...
I’ve noticed something rather interesting, though. Frequently, paintings that get very little attention when unframed become celebrities after framing. It’s My Fair Lady, only without the accent. The most unassuming piece with bad manners—after framing—comes into its own, exuding elegance, with pinky daintily extended.
Remember “Wild Iris” from a few weeks ago? Although it doesn’t fall into the Eliza Doolittle category, look at how the nicely the frame enhances the piece. The soft sage mat pushes the purples and pinks to be more prominent, yet brings out the warm greens in the background; the dark, rustic frame pumps up the contrast.
Last year, just before I started framing pieces for the show, a friend of ours came over and asked if I had any new paintings to share. I brought out my work and as he looked through the pieces, he was very quiet. He kind of hmmm'ed—and that was it—not even a polite, “oh that’s nice” (what a wonderful little hobby you have, dear). Even the painting I thought he would love was handed back to me without a comment. Now I don’t let that kind of reaction get to me (not too much, anyway), because I know that when I frame a piece, it changes everything.
I’ve even had my sweet, supportive husband hem and haw over a piece and proclaim, “That's not one of my favorites.” I remember getting this response with a particular painting a couple of years ago. I really liked the painting. I believed in that painting. I knew it would shine if it went into the right frame. However, it was close to the show and we were running out of money for mats and frames, so I decided not to frame it. Then, in a lucky moment, I found I had a frame and an extra mat that worked perfectly with the piece. When I showed it to him again, not only did he love it, it became one of his favorite pieces. He didn't even realize it was same painting.
I spend a lot of time choosing mats and frames for pieces. The right framing can completely change the character of a piece. It may bring out one color or another, or emphasize temperature or texture; it can make a painting sing, or make it soft and quiet.
Frames and mats should be chosen to enhance the art, not based on the latest decorating trend. And, although good art doesn't have to match your sofa, there is something to be said about the compatibility of artwork and decor. However, be wary of changing the framing on a to match your furniture or carpet, because you may find it changes what attracted you to the painting in the first place.
When you come to my studio show, think back on some of the pieces you saw here that you might have thought were so-so and let me know if your opinion has changed after framing. I’d love your feedback.