Plein Air Painters of the Bluegrass
biggest single expense as a painter (other than those trips to
Always, always, always, buy standard sized canvases. Then you don’t have to have a custom frame built and pay for it! This means the following sizes: 6x8, 5x7, 8x10, 12x16, 16x20, 20x24, 24x36. Sometimes you can find ready-made frames for 12x12, 10x12, 14x18, but before you pick up a brush, select a standard size canvas or canvasboard and make sure you can find a frame to fit it at the price you want to pay. Assume you’re going to make a sale-able painting, why not?!
Based on your thumbnail sketch, you may just think “This scene requires a 13x21 canvas”. But, please, at this early stage, change the width and length proportions to fit a standard canvas, the pro’s do it all the time. Redraw your thumbnail sketch, think again, be creative.
The biggest strategic mistake painters make is to use a frame which it too thin. This says to potential buyers “Gee, that artist doesn’t think much of her/her art, ‘cause they choose that cheap, thin frame”. Or, “how can they ask the price they are asking with that cheap frame” - potential buyers can’t envision how the painting will look in their home with a cheap, thin or inappropriately-styled frame.
Here’s a handy table for the canvas size and frame width:
the frame style (degree of ornamentation) appropriate to your subject and
painting style. A true impressionist (dots of color all over, like Van Gogh)
can go with a more complex style frame, most of the time. If you’re a
Note: Complex, highly ornamented frames can conflict with complex paintings/subject matter, which, after all, is what you are really selling. Don’t draw attention away from the art.
If you have a really dark painting (nocturne, lots of shadow), don’t use a black frame – it calls out “dead” to the viewer.
Don’t buy too many different styles of frame, if a painting doesn’t sell, you want to be able to reuse the frame on a newer painting. IF you come to have a number of paintings in a show, consistency wins out….in sales.
Sources of Ready-Made Frames
Here are sources for reasonably prices ready-made frames for the beginning, or advanced, painter. Comments are strictly my opinions.
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