Jonalyn's Watercolor Blog

Framing Art without Breaking the Bank

A room without art is no better than a cell. Worse, actually, because even prisoners, like Betsy Ten Boom in The Hiding Place decorated her Nazi prison cell with scarves from her suitcase. We press ourselves into the things around us. And everything on our walls tells us and our friends something about us.

No decor is simply decoration. I am not a painter because I’m really into aesthetics. I’m a painter because I care about soul care.

We all know homes, or coffeehouses, where the art inspires, soothes, enlarges us.  The furniture you are sitting in forms your body, the architecture in your home pushes you to walk one way and not another, the paintings across from you form your imagination. The male and female images around us teach us what counts as beauty. Landscapes around us reveal the scenes that provide solace, inspiration and direction.

You are a different person because of what hangs on your walls. So are your children and grandchildren who grew up around those walls. I can trace the colors, furniture and decor in my home to the homes I grew up in, the homes where I was carefully noticed and loved without manipulation. And speaking of manipulation, so many of the glossy images on our devices are doctored to motivate us to buy something, so the walls in our home offer one of the precious few places we get to decide what matters. Choose, frame and hang these places well. I’m here to offer a few tips.

We all know art matters. But we also know it’s intimidating to try to purchase and frame art. I understand how discouraging it can be to purchase a piece of original art, only to find the framing costs the same or double.

But, you can frame art for so much less than you might imagine. Let me give you the 1-2-3’s. This isn’t the professional way to frame, and it won’t look as good as a gallery or framers, but it will look good enough. And most importantly, it will be on your wall instead of a file or a box somewhere in the attic or basement. It will allow you to find prints or, even better, original paintings to surround you and your family. Don’t put it off any longer. This process of choosing what informs your imagination is just as important as what you eat, where you study, what you read, how your worship.

  1. Find a frame for less at FrameUSA, Hobby Lobby or Michaels. Think simple. You don’t want your frame competing with your artwork. Choose a frame where the inside measures 4 – 10″ larger than your artwork. This is because you have two sides to your artwork. You want your art surrounded by a matboard, so adding two inches on the bottom, two inches on top for a total for four additional inches. So if your art is 11″ x 15″, you’ll want a frame where the inside measurements are at least 15″ x 25″. Most pre-made frames include glass, hanger, cardboard backing, some even include pre-cut mat board. For instance, here you can get an 8 x 10 frame where the matboard is all ready for an 8 x 10 painting.
  2. Hire a professional to cut a mat. Most original art, especially watercolor, needs it’s own mat. Choose something simple, white, cream, grey. Again, you don’t want your mat competing with your art. Your dimensions are simple: the outside should be the inside dimensions of your frame. Then you will ask for a hole to be cut, the dimensions should be the size of your artwork plus 1/4″ on all sides. This is so the painting will be held in place on all the edges by the mat board. (Any local framing shop should be happy to help you get the dimensions correct. Just bring your frame in. Tell them you need a mat board for this frame and this art piece). You can also just frame a painting or print without a mat board, examples in pictures below!
  3. Put it all together. Besides your frame and mat, all you need is white artist’s tape. Tape the painting to the pre-cut matboard. The painting should show through the hole. Then lay the matboard with painting onto the glass of the frame. Lay the cardboard backing on top. Bend the metal brads down to hold in place. VOILA! Your painting is ready to be hung.

Please see the pictures to guide you.  Ask for help in the comments.

Now go choose some art to frame! If you need something that won’t break your art budget, check out all my new mini landscapes.

Next time, some news about my newest addition to my shop: a friendship calendar for 2023.

All the materials you’ll need: mat board, paintings, artist’s tape and scissors
Tape the corners
Lay the painting down and then lower the matboard onto the painting. This makes it easier to center.
Now open up the frame by bending the metal brads back and removing the cardboard backing.
Lay your art work/mat board combination onto the glass.
Lay the cardboard backing on top
Bend the metal brads back to hold the cardboard in place
Now you’re ready to frame! If you don’t like how the paintings looks wavy on the edges, simply tape every edge down with the white artist’s tape.
Here’s an example of one of my larger prints (24″ x 36″), framed without a mat. The white border works well to set the painting off. You can purchase this print of The Sugar Shack here
Another example of a different frame (also purchased from Michael’s) framed without a mat.

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