Friday, August 17, 2012

Framing and getting started in showing your work.

I know it's been a little while since I posted here, trying to get my life back in order after the trip to France took a little while.  I have much to post here so look for several up coming with a few France trip Plein Air pieces and newly finished work.  But first I had a question from a student asking about framing for just getting started in showing or competing with your work.  By the time I answered her I had what looked like a good blog post so I'm copying my answer here for anyone alse who may want to know.  I wrote to her:

Framing and getting started in showing your work whether it's in competition shows or galleries, or for jurying into art groups, can be one of the most difficult decisions for an artist. I've done it myself and many other artists start the same way.   You first frame things for yourself/home/friends.  Then if you enter a competition or jury process, you have to take into consideration what their requirements are.  Many have distinct regulations, such as the CPSA (Colored Pencil Society of America) and other large shows require plexiglass for glazing to minimize breakage issues.  They also stipulate simple lines for frames or no heavily carved ones.  Neutral matting, suggesting a minimum of 2"  margin with 3" being the norm and other criteria. 

At BAAA (Bon Air Artists Assoc. my local art group) some on our jury team believe you should have all 5 pieces in similar or like framing, along with the simple lines and neutral matting.  I believe many artists jurying in for the first time are not going to reframe something on the chance they get in to the group, especially if this is their first jury in attempt.  But in laying out your display for the jury process or show, you can place like frames together and group the display.  Like if you had some gold frames, then some black with gold trim, and then a dark chocolate/expresso frame may make the layout look OK. 

If you have a piece that was done say in a purple mat for a special room but a basic frame, I would re-mat the piece with an off white or neutral mat to jury in or show.  I've been on the jury committee and this person had a bright green matted piece and purple mat one mixed in with others, well lets just say it didn't go over well with the committee. 

Many of us start out with a mixture of finishes, or styles that change over time.  Richmond for some time now has been a gilded frame town.  But things are changing here to match other areas of the country.  Many of my professional artist friends along with myself, reevaluate our framing frequently.  Most can't afford to completely redo them so we figure out a way to make a gradual conversion to a switch.  And of course it never fails, I'll find a great frame I'm changing to, only to find out the company has discontinued that style or color/shade.  As starving artists or new to selling, we may buy on sale at local shops, as we're testing our worth in the art sales arena.  But eventually we learn to standardize and realize you can't frame for every taste.  Neutral in all realms works well for a client, judge or gallery to evaluate the merit of an artwork.  Letting the art speak for itself is my motto.  But I do believe on not skimping on quality when it comes to framing.  I try to give my clients a good value quality frame.  Except if they specify a certain frame or ask for it not to be framed, although I do not like to sell unframed work at shows.   I have given a frame away just so the sold artwork had a safe vehicle in which to be transported to a clients home.  

Besides the fact that many clients choose to re-frame a piece for their decor, working in standard sizes for mats and frames makes this framing thing much less of a daunting task.  Sometimes you can pop one out of the frame and pop it into another more suitable if you work in standardized sizes.  Of course I learned how to cut my own mats and do my own framing to keep the cost of framing a piece low and the value high on a finished work.  Do I like to cut mats NO, but hey it's all part of owning your own business as I see it.  Or until you make it big with high sales volume and big prices tags $$$$$ then you can have it all professionally done.   One of the reasons I have moved to working almost exclusively on Ampersand pastelboard is the no mat, no glass is needed.  They hang like oil paintings making self framing easier and allowing for quick frame changes.   Inevitably a frame can become damaged by dragging it to shows or in shipping to competitions so then it's always good to re-frame in a your new style keeping your exhibit cohesive. 

I do have a few high priced framed pieces in my private collection that I may never sell or that I will re-frame should I decide to enter in a show or to sell. 

Oh by the way, she also asked if it was OK to use complementary colors for a mat.  Since we have talked in class about using complementary colors I needed to make sure what her understanding of complementary was and to be clear on my answer to her I asked her what she meant.  For the rest of you I thought I'd make clear the differences. 

The dictionary definition of complementary is: 
complementary |ˌkämpləˈment(ə)rē|
1 completing; forming a complement : backyard satellite dishes and the complementary electronic components.
• (of two or more different things) combining in such a way as to enhance or emphasize each other's qualities : three guitarists playing interlocking, complementary parts.

While the definition of complementary colors is:  
complementary colors
plural noun
colors directly opposite each other in the color spectrum, such as red and green or blue and orange, that when combined in the right proportions, produce white light. The effect is not the same when mixing paints.

If she meant "this compliments you artwork in like colors".   Neutral usually does show well, off white, white, tan, light grey, black, brown, etc....are good choices.   If she meant complementary as in the first definition above my answer is the same.  I hope she didn't mean complementary colors as in the second definition.  Although this might work for a decorator or in a special room this would not be a good choice for framing if exhibiting in shows galleries or for a jury in process.

Well there you have it, framing per Gloria.  Have a colorful day!

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