Artists talk about framing and promotion

By Page H. Gifford

                  Framing art properly is the final complement to the finished product the artist creates. There is a difference when framing for oneself and framing for exhibits. Watercolor artists William Snow and Linda Bethke spoke about proper framing and promotion with members of the  Fluvanna Art Association at their monthly meeting on July 19.
Snow began the discussion with frames and the obvious sources to buy them, including A.C. Moore, Michael’s, and several sources online. Bethke suggested Ikea and Hobby Lobby.
“Hobby Lobby will cut mats and frame while you shop,” said Bethke. Snow also offered antique shops as another alternative to find that unique frame to set-off a piece of art, making it a stunning centerpiece for any room.
A question came up regarding frames without glass and where to get it cut. Snow uses Charlottesville Glass & Mirror and Dodson Glass and Mirror to custom cut glass or plexiglass. Ace Hardware will also cut glass and plexiglass to specification.
“Because of liability, the possibility of the piece falling and glass breaking, most art organizations are only accepting pictures with plexiglass,” said Snow. He uses 1/8” thick plexiglass.
When it comes to the final decision of how to frame, whether to free float or use a mat frame, it depends on the artist’s choice. But when it comes to exhibiting and showing, judges and gallery owners prefer clean white mats and simple frames, nothing ornate or fancy. The reasoning behind this is that decorative frames and colorful mats detract from the work itself. Frames that complement the work or enhance the décor of any room is a matter of personal choice.
Those who work in oils are using thicker canvases and opting for the frame-less look and now watercolorists also have that option to paint on special canvases made for watercolor. Bethke has fallen in love with these new canvases, allowing her freedom from framing traditional watercolors. But watercolor organizations are slow to accept the new support for their members, rejecting it as inappropriate for a pure art form.
When it comes to framing his art, Snow is prolific and investing in a hand-held mat cutter proved worth his while, he said. He has had years of practice with the device as he demonstrated it with precision while interested members looked on. He strongly suggested that whether you cut your mats or get them ready-made, be sure to invest in museum quality or archival acid-free mats, tape and backing paper if the piece is permanent.
Bethke said another option was to free float a picture; this can be done in two ways. The first is to have the picture take up the entire space within the frame without a mat or attach it to a mat board.
After applying and gluing the paper backing to his painting, Snow measured the frame in thirds and drilled two holes and screwed in the eyes and added wire.
“Make sure that your wire is one third the way down, otherwise, if it is higher, it will show and if it is lower, it will fall forward from the wall,” he said.
After viewing the final framing, Snow briefly discussed promotion. He reminded the members that if they choose a more conventional route for promotion, galleries will take 30-50 percent of the total cost.
“You would then have to bump up the cost of the painting and include the commission.” He added there are numerous places to exhibit work, including wineries, companies, banks, hospitals and, clinics. Hospitals like Sentara Martha Jefferson and the University of Virginia have their own criteria for exhibiting.
“It can be an issue,” said Snow referring to a lengthy process to exhibit in hospitals. He encouraged those who were willing to self-promote to contact local publications and advertise through fliers and invitations to exhibits and gallery openings. Artists can also use web sites or facebook pages to gain momentum.
The bottom line is that once the work has been completed and framed, get it out into the public so others can appreciate and enjoy it.

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