Making the Best of Your Art

When I started making art, I really didn't know much about caring for it and presenting it. So here I am going to share with you a few of the tips which I have learned. I hope they will help you in choosing which art suits you, and how to make the best of it.

Back to Basics

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Have you noticed how if you leave a magazine or other piece of printed material in direct sunlight from a window, pretty soon the paper will discolour and the print will fade. Of course, it's not meant for long term use but the principle is the same – no art likes being in direct sunlight. Sometimes, if it's a cheap or temporary thing, it doesn't matter if it fades but if it's something precious

* avoid positions opposite large windows or glass doors. The careful when choosing art for your hallway.,

 

* think about using a special UV protecting frame.

Avoid bright sunlight

Do I need a frame?

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* Original paintings and prints on paper are designed to be used with a frame.

 

* Ideally, use a mount or mat.  Not only does it make the picture look nice, it prevents the front of the art touching against the the glass or the acrylic of the frame.

* If it's a picture which has a lot of texture, the mount is especially important to make sure the texture doesn't rub against the front of the frame.

* Work on canvas doesn't need a frame but you might want to use one for aesthetic reasons.
 

A canvas painting in a float frame

Choosing a frame

Juli's Top Tip

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A traditional frame at work during Covid

Before I started making art I had no idea how important choosing the right frame was both in terms of presenting the work but also in terms of making sure that it is well cared for.

My top tip for choosing a frame is to ask a professional framer! That doesn't need to be a expensive option but you will get really good advice. 

Look out for
the Fine Art Trade Guild, that is the industry's trade body. You can find more information at: www.fineart.co.uk

Mostly people think about the aesthetic qualities of the frame itself, but the glass at the front is really important. Normal glass gives a reflection but you can get nonreflective glass, and also glass which has higher UV protection for your art. If it's a special piece for you, whether an expensive artwork or a child's drawing you want to treasure, it's worth considering these options.

Originals on canvas
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A large canvas painting in a non-traditional frame

As an artist I love painting on canvas. I think that canvasses look nice when presented directly on the wall and that they don't always need to be framed. But, a frame which compliments the picture, can enhance its impact.

Canvas and canvas board work is usually framed in what's called a "float" frame which goes around the artwork, leaving it plenty of opportunity to breathe.

The frame is usually close to the edge of the painting but you can be innovative and individual about your framing choices.

Not All prints are the same

Unless you are involved with the process of making art or you're an experienced buyer, it's easy to get confused between the different types of "print".

To start off with, there is the difference between handmade traditional prints, offset litho, and digital.

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Giclée print process gives high quality reproduction and long lasting prints

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Delivering a large giclée print for an apartment block foyer

Giclée is a term used to describe fine art digital prints made on an inkjet printer as compared to the traditional way of printing, using offset lithography.  The name comes from a French word meaning to spray, spout, squirt.

 

The giclée printing process combines archival quality inks with high quality archival paper to produce a print which is of very high quality and long lasting. You might also hear it described as "gallery quality" or "museum quality".

Limited-edition prints are created by the artist with a limited production, and they are numbered 1/X to show the number of prints made.

I make my artwork into prints using both giclée and non-giclée printing provided by specialist suppliers. I will always let you know which sort of print you are buying.

I really like printing onto canvas. It creates a cost-effective high impact artwork.

I also like printing onto other surfaces like acrylic and aluminium.

As I have discovered through experimentation, the overall appearance of the artwork is much influenced by the printing process and the medium on to which it is printed. This can have a big impact on colours.

Cleaning and Storing Pictures

To clean your pictures, dust with a soft brush or cloth. Avoid cleaning fluids or water.

Check occasionally that the strings or wires that hold your pictures haven't become frayed or damaged – particularly important when pictures have been hanging in the same place for a long time. 

When storing pictures, stack them vertically and stand them glass to glass facing so that the hangers don't scratch the frames.

Hanging pictures for an exhibition or gallery wall
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The ArtCan Winter exhibition, 2022

Juli's top tip

I was surprised to discover how much measuring and maths is involved in creating for example an exhibition display, but it applies equally to a gallery wall at home.  It’s something I’m not particularly good at and have to work very hard to achieve.  Here are some guidelines I have created for myself.

When planning your display, bear in mind that natural eye level for most people is 152-168 cm from the floor.

*Don’t put anything below 40 cm.

*Don’t put anything above 200 cm.

*Ensure that the spacing between artworks is consistent so you create a pleasing grid of images. 

*Allow 8 cm of blank wall space around each image.

A good tip is to layout your pictures on the floor as if they were on the wall, and then you can see how they look in terms subject, and colour tones.

 

All this is very personal, of course, and depends on what impression you are trying to achieve but let me pass on some interesting advice I saw on Kate Bryan’s Instagram account.  Kate is a well-known curator as well as judge on Sky’s Landscape Artist of the Year.  She said curating pictures in an exhibition is like being a film director – you need to be a good editor and think about how they work together in terms of aesthetics and conceptually.  Make sure you leave out anything that jars.

When you begin hanging your pictures, start in the middle and work outwards.

Adding a hanging attachment 
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Sometimes you need to put a hanging attachment on the back of your painting. The most common way to do this is with D Rings. You can get them from most hardware stores or online.

 

Measure about one third down from the top of the frame, on both sides, then screw the D ring into each side. It's best to use a strong cord (ideally framing cord) or wire.

 

Make sure that you use a strong enough hanging attachment for your frame, D rings come in a variety of sizes, some with 1 and some with 2 screws.