Jonalyn's Watercolor Blog

How to Display Art

There are so many good ideas for laying out space. Some of my favorite friends are fashionistas who understand how the human body is really a blank wall, ready for decor, colors, drape and coordination. A wall is also like a blank canvas, so I know I can help you better display the art you already own or would like to find. Hanging art well is an art from itself, and it’s really easy to get it right!

Before I share my favorite four tips for displaying art, don’t forget to take a moment to discover an original painting for yourself. This week is the last opportunity to fall in love with a new painting in the easiest way possible. It’s easy to browse my shop and find the painting that deserves a special spot in your home. Then, let me do all the framing and shipping for 50% off. This value will end Feb 28, so supplies and time are limited. Discover all my original paintings here. And soon, you’ll know just how to display your new artwork!

Here are four good tips that will keep you from amateur placement or simply copying everything you see on Instagram. Choose your art to reflect you and your family’s values (read my post on how to find that kind of art “How to Choose Art“) then display it like a pro. It’s pretty easy once you know how.

Tip #1 – Grouping

Group your art in odd numbers, like 1 or 3 or 5 frames to a space. Groups of two work if the frames are the same size. Group your art by subject matter, a whole group of portraits, for example can surround one larger landscape. You can even choose a theme, like memorabilia, and frame your children’s letters to you, along with vintage photos of family (don’t we all have some of those?), some silhouettes or old postcards of your hometown.

This grouping was inspired by Dale’s mother and grandfather. A silhouette on the right and a painting of me and his mother on the left. Across the hall is a silhouette lineup of our whole family.

Tip #2 – Spacing

If you’re naturally artistic, you can just hold the painting up on the wall and say, “That looks pretty good” and wing it. But most people need a little guidance. One of my favorite art biz blogs Red Dot Blog recommends hanging art at six feet high. That’s a good rule of thumb, especially for a gallery. So start with the frame’s top edge at six feet, and go from there. But since the people in our home deserve a good view of the art we all choose, I also recommend you pay attention to who is going to use the room and hang art based for them. I hang the art a little lower, this includes the mirror, for my boys in their bathroom. I want them to feel like the room was designed for them, not for taller adults. For my son on the top bunk of his bed, I’ve hung art higher up so he can see it when he’s lounging.

My sons climb this staircase as much as adults, so there’s a painting by their grandmother lower down for them to enjoy.

Tip #3 – Puzzle Pieces

This works well for mismatched frames.  Stagger or puzzle the frames to fit together so that they overlap in different, interesting ways. I find that as long as you can match the distance between edges of then frames (say all 2 inches apart), you can get away with almost any combination. I have a wall where I’ve grouped one gold frame with all black frames. I have another wall where the frames are all mix-matched but are similar in style of art (like all fine art watercolors). You can group by color or subject matter or season. Finding one common theme helps. For instance, I have a wall of silhouette portraits that takes you down one wall.

This is a nice example of puzzle-pieced together frames filling the space. She’s also created a blue theme throughout. Though I’m not a fan of those tiny sconces, they seem overpowered by the artwork.

Tip #4 – Scaling

This is a big one, the rookie mistake of choosing art that’s too small for a space. You want to choose art that fills a space. If you hang, say my mini landscape above a couch it will look silly and rinky-dink. But if you choose a large painting or two same-size paintings that fill up the wall space above a couch, you’ve nailed it! There’s more about this important idea at The DIY Playbook here. But let me say, it’s better to go bigger and powerful than too small. One quick way to double check is offered in the final pro tip below.

This is Rachel, whose husband commissioned this painting of Steamboat Springs as a surprise present for her. Notice how my painting really fills the space above their mantle.

Final Pro tip

For those of you who don’t like to make multiple holes in the wall, I recommend you choose the art you want to group together, then cut out a pattern in each of the sizes of the frame. You can use wrapping (the white side) or butcher paper, then use blue painter’s tape (or clear or brown tape if you remember to take it down the same day) to tape these sizes on a wall. These become your template so you can move them around until you find a nice arrangement. Don’t hesitate to leave these papers up for a day or so and walk past them. You’ll start to notice if the arrangement feels odd or looks lopsided.  Another quick way to see if it’s too big or too small of a space is to snap a picture. I even do this for my art, I can see errors in a picture sometimes sooner than in the original painting. So take a pic and examine it.

An excellent example of how you can use butcher paper and adapt different sizes to fill a large space above a couch.


Family News

If you’ve been following me on my business page on Facebook or Instagram, you’ve seen some pics. We just got back from a wonderful cruise with my sister-in-law to explore the Spice Islands of the Caribbean. I got so many great ideas for new paintings. And I’ve been using fresh nutmeg (Grenada’s #1 crop) this week on pretty much everything. What a wonderful sunny holiday to take together as as family!

Below you’ll find some of the images from my travel sketchbook. Enjoy the tour! And don’t forget to have a little fun and browse my Shop. I’ve been adding so many new paintings!

This was the woman I painted. She loved seeing herself in my travel sketchbook!
Painting on St. Maarten, B.V.I.
A context shot where I hold my painting on top of the scene I’m capturing. Barbados
The interesting lifeguard towers on Grenada
She let me take a picture of her and I took one with her phone, too!
I got this group in the hot tub and then showed them afterwards. They loved it!
Some of the freighter cargo before we sailed out of St. Maarten.
My favorite two-page painting of Dominica.

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