In many respects, choosing the right framing option for your oil painting is as an important decision as selecting the painting itself, but is often an overlooked part of the process.

Hand-painted oil on canvas works of art are generally rolled and shipping in strong plastic tubing, ready for stretching and framing locally.

Choosing a decorative frame is a very personal decision and having the opportunity to see the painted canvas alongside the frame of choice allows the best opportunity to select the perfect framing option.

There are hundred of decorative frames to choose from and also other options without a decorative frame and knowing where to start can be a daunting task.

1. The History of Picture Framing

Historically, picture frames can be dated all the way back to the ancient Egyptians, with a wooden framed picture found in a tomb in Egypt dating back nearly 2000 years. Picture frames as we know them today first started to appear in Europe in the 12 and 13th centuries, and were always made of carved wood, and usually gilded. These frames are often works of art in their own right. This is the traditional picture frame that we all think of, and is what we see when visiting museums, where a large percentage of the paintings hanging are in very elaborate carved wood frames, with gilding, especially the Old Masters, but all the way up to more recent Impressionist works by Picasso and Van Gogh, for example.

2. Gallery Wrap Options for Contemporary Art in a Modern Setting

Not every painting requires an outside decorative frame.

A Gallery Wrap or Museum Wrap offers an very cost effective method of display and no external decorative frame is used.

So what is the difference?

A Gallery Wrap finish generally refers to a process where the image is continued so that it wraps over the sides of the wooden frame, known as stretcher bars, and the surplus canvas is stapled to the back of the frame.

Examples of this process are shown below:

Gallery Wrap paintings can be stretched on different thickness of stretcher bars from 3/4″ to 2″ or even 3″ depth, depending on the size of the canvas and also the room.

A Museum Wrap is where the image remains visible on the front of the frame, whilst a solid or white color canvas is wrapped over the sides of the stretcher bars.  In this case the canvas is also stapled to the back of the stretcher bars.

3. Floater Frames

Floater Frames provide a high-end look to any painting, either contemporary or classical.  A floater frame creates the impression that the canvas is floating inside the frame but not touch it.  Here you can see some samples of floating frames.  There is a wide choice of outside floater frames, either wood, solid color, gold or silver.

4. How to Select a Decorative Frame for your Painting

Often a painting will provide the answers to what kind of frame works well but any frame should enhance the content of the paintings.  If you have purchased, for example,  a reproduction Impressionist painting, then you may want to consider how some famous original paintings from this movement are displayed in Museums all over the world.

As a rule of thumb, larger paintings generally demand wider moldings but ask your framer for advice, as he or she will have a wealth of knowledge to share about the variety of frames available from a large number of suppliers.

Swinton’s Art has a great blog covering all aspects of framing and where to start!