Is Your Work Ready For A Gallery?

Published February 23, 2017 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

A great many artistically talented people are discouraged from pursuing an art career because agents and gallery owners won’t consider their work. In many cases, this lack of interest on the part of galleries is not because the art is bad, but to the work being poorly prepared for showing on a professional level. Most Art Associations attempt to help teach beginning artists how to frame their art for art shows and presentation to galleries. This helps beginners learn how to prepare their work to be shown at a professional level.  Most groups have learned the easist, fastest way to teach this is by setting framing standards for their own shows.

Framing fine art can enhance the overall appeal of a piece of artwork. The drawback is if you don’t frame your art wisely it can ultimately ruin the paintings appeal altogether. Choosing the right frame for the right art looks simple, right? Step one is choosing the right type of frame. Wood or Metal? Wide or Narrow? The most important rule is to make sure the frame you choose doesn’t clash or overpower your art. A too-small frame around a large painting or a large frame around a small artwork can overpower it and ruin the presentation. So first, consider what type of art you will be framing and decide what type of frame will make the best presentation of your art. When choosing a frame it may be helpful to take the art with you and put it behind the frame choices. Ask yourself, what is the first thing you notice about the painting? Is it the art or the frame? If it is the frame, then you should consider selecting a different frame. If it isn’t practical to bring the art with you because of the size, you are going to have to use some imagination. Personally, I have found that the simpler the frame, the more attention is drawn to the art. There is a wide variety of ways out there to frame paintings, photos and other art. It may be a good idea to assess putting your art into a frame with as much consideration as you took with the actual painting. After all, your painting and its frame are going to be spending a long time together, so it is important to make sure they are a good match.

The back can be as important as the front in an art show. I once saw a judge reject a lovely piece of art because she didn’t like the way the frame appeared on the back! Very seldom is art left naked on the reverse side. While the backs of Oils are sometimes not covered in order to allow the canvas to breathe (oils take a long time to dry), most framed paintings have a backing. The most commonly used material is acid free brown paper but more decorative types can be used.

Gallery Wrap Framing. Gallery wrap does not have a conventional frame; in fact, the edges of the art are painted and left bare to the eye, sometimes giving a wraparound effect to the art. A gallery wrap canvas is stapled on the back of the stretcher bars so the staples can’t be seen. Historically gallery wrap has had a wider edge than regular canvas (1-1/2” to 2” wide). Some confusion has arisen recently because art stores have begun selling canvas that is ¾’ wide and calling it gallery wrap since it is stapled on the back and not on the sides. FYI here, most commercial stores no longer sell any canvases stapled on the side. Be warned about this type of “gallery wrap”: many art shows and galleries do not consider this “true” gallery wrap and will not accept them into a show or gallery unframed

If you are planning to enter your work in art shows, you can run into pitfalls with poor framing or the system used to hang your work. Hardware and art stores sell a wide variety of systems to hang art and while they will all work in a home setting, some of them are not suited to venues where there is a lot of public traffic. Most art shows have very specific framing dos and don’ts about how art is to be hung and they will only accept art that meets these standards.

Why are they so fussy? The principal reason is no one wants to be responsible for damage to your art. Typically sawtooth and quick frames are put in with tiny finish nails and are too fragile to hold a heavy painting for very long. Screw eyes extend backward and could potentially poke a hole in the standard or the wall where the art is hung if an accident causes the art to be bumped. If you follow the rules given below your art will probably not be knocked out of consideration because of the framing.

General Guidelines

All paintings should be framed; gallery wrap (1.5” to 2” wide on the edge) is acceptable. Frames should be in good repair and ready to hang. The art show director may set size and weight standards, so read the show prospectus carefully!

Use flat hangers with wires only, no Saw-tooth, eyelet hangers or quick frames and no screw eyes. The ends of the wire should be taped or sleeved.

Screws for hanging should be no more than 4” inches from the top of the frame and the wire should not show over the top of the frame.

All oils should be completely dry. Watercolor, Pastel, Drawing and some types of mixed media should be under glass or plexi-glass, unless larger than 24” x 28” and then plexi-glass is may be required.D

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