How do you know which mat and frame combo to choose?!!
When I was studying printmaking, the opinion leaned heavily toward white mats and black frames. It wasn’t intended to be art-school snobby, but was meant to focus the viewer’s attention on the art. It’s a clean look, it can work in any setting, and it can build a cohesive look in a room. The artwork might be varied, but the mat and frames will feel uniform. One complaint about this combination is that it can look cold or impersonal.
When I worked in an art gallery, we sold prints with colored mats, often in multiple layers, with more ornate or unique frames. These pieces were often sold as gifts, and people wanted to buy statement pieces. This approach splashes color and variety on the wall. If the frames are wood, the “warmth” of organic material can feel less stark than black and white. Cons to this style are that it may use more wall space to accommodate wide mats and frames, frames may go out of style, or colors may not match other decor.
What I do
With art I’ve purchased, my style has morphed over the years. I have small prints that I pop into standard black or white frames with no mats so I can get them up on the wall and enjoy them. I cluster these into groups so that together, all of the prints make a statement on the wall. I also have my share heavily matted and framed pieces, which might look dated to some, but I love remembering where I was when I purchased them and the effort that went into getting it “just right.”
For original work that I sell, it’s less about making a final decision for customers than it is about protecting the art: paper gets smudged and torn, paint bleeds if it gets wet. There are so many shades of white that it’s hard for me to match my watercolor paper when ordering supplies. White mats that are a tint off can detract from the art. This has led me to choose mats that pull colors from the design to present a clean, cheerful piece. I invest less in matting and framing so that customers won’t be priced out of having an original professionally framed in the future.
There are no wrong answers here!
Ultimately, frame your art in a way that brings you happiness–try some in black and white and others in loud, boisterous colors–both styles can complement the art and brighten a room.
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Art that brings a burst of color to your life!
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