Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Frames and Other Hang-Ups

I have a hang-up.
Only one? Well, not to reveal too many faults all at once I will let you in on this one:
When I visit people--and their pictures and paintings hang crooked on the wall--I straighten them quickly, when no one is looking.

I grew up with a pappa who was an artist, an architect, a cabinet maker, a builder of beautiful houses. He had strong opinions and knowledge about frames and how--and where--to hang something on the wall.

My parents came from Norway to Utah, USA for my wedding many moons ago. In his suitcase Pappa brought a painting for the newlyweds. The evening before the wedding he asked if I could take him to a frame shop. We found a small shop in Provo right before closing time. My Pappa had a special place in his heart for elaborate gold painted frames and chose one for this painting, even thought it was slightly smaller than the painting itself. The shopkeeper shook his head, reminding us he wanted to close in a few minutes. There was no way he had time to get it ready to fit the frame.
Pappa said, "Do you have a saw?"
"Yes," the shopkeeper answered and went in the back room to fetch a saw.

My Pappa looked at the painted board, then pressed it against a hard surface and sawed a piece off two of the sides. Then he placed the perfectly sized painting into his chosen golden frame.

You should have seen the shopkeeper's face. He had not seen anything like that before. But he made a sale and was probably happy with that.

In the eighties I lived in Okinawa, Japan. At that time, women in this proud and honorable country still walked a pace or two behind their husbands. When I went to a local store to order custom made frames for my paintings, the frame maker would never speak directly to me. He would only speak to my husband. I got my message across and fortunately was able to make the orders I needed, beautifully made wooden frames.

Just like my Pappa I have feelings about where and how a frame should hang, what it should look like to meet its purpose best. It is there to show off something.
There have been times that I have been asked to come help people hang pictures on walls--in their homes, or for exhibitions, like for my artist friend David Sandum.

So for a quick advisory:

  • How heavy is the painting? Decide what hanging implement you are going to use. Simple nail, screw, picture hanging hook or stronger items?
  • How do you make it level?
  • How close to a door frame should you hang it? To the corner of the room, furniture, curtains? Give it space if you want it to be noticed. If you want to hang it up there, don't let it be swallowed up by disturbing elements.
  • Think harmony when you choose frames; How does the frame match the photograph or painting? How does it match other frames? How does it match the interior of the room?
  • Hold it up, or even better, let a friend or family member hold it. Take a few steps back and take your time observing space, colors, textures.
  • And please, this is probably number one mistake: Don't hang your pictures and painting up too high. Unless your whole family towers above everyone else in height,  center your art work and photographs in a pleasant "eye" height, don't let it cling to the ceiling. 
And one more thing . . . hang only what you feel is uplifting, inspirational, and positive in your life on your wall. After all, it will hang there in front of you every day. It will work its influence on you.

I think I should add, I personally never use rulers, measuring tapes or a
level when I hang something up. You may want to. It's probably a smart thing to do.

Today's art is Pappa's wedding gift. It is an oil painting of a beloved place where our extended family had berry picking reunions every August while i was growing up. Good memories.


  1. Så interessant og spennende blogginnlegg. Hadde stor glede av å lese dette.

  2. Takk. Gode og riktige rammer kan gjøre et bilde mye bedre.