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  • Writer's picturecarolyn land

Taking Pride in What You Do

“The race for quality has no finish line…”   Peter Drucker

As artists we spend a lot of time on our work.  Sometimes hours, sometimes years go into making a piece of art which we feel totally comfortable with, and want to show.  Creating is an act of love.  It reflects who we are and usually has a message about us that we want to share with the viewer.  Many times,we spend hours looking and re-looking, moving a line here and adding a connecting line there. Maybe we decide we need just a little pop of color to add more interest, or the value changes aren’t quite strong enough.  We critique it, we study it, and we make small adjustments.  But at some point, we stop at a good place, and say we are done!

So why after all the time and effort, of pouring our inner being on a substrate, do some artists find an old frame and plop their piece in it with no thought to what it is doing to the painting?  Let me tell you, a frame can make or break a painting. Presentation counts!

I recently saw the most exquisite oil painting.  Now I have passed this painting many times and never stopped to look at it. You see the frame is gold, and it must be four times per square inch bigger than the painting. But I was forced to wait for something, and there I stood, and for the first time in 20 years of passing it, I looked at it. I never saw it because it is enveloped in gold, and it is a charming painting!  Who would know? There is more gold wood than painting.

I have curated enough show to know this is a real problem.  Artists come in a gallery with their work and they have six different kinds of frames and some of them have no relationship to the work other than the painting fits in the opening.  They take a beautiful sensitive painting and stick it in an old, beat up frame.

The style and color of your frame should accentuate not detract from your work. Chipped, scratched, and worn cheapens your work.  Dirty old and yellowing mattes don’t work either.   What is says is…I really don’t care about my work.

We have all heard the saying, “dress for success”.  Well, dress your painting appropriately.  Simple, understated, and well matted says, “look at me, the painting”.

I understand that the business side of art, isn’t usually the part of being an artist most of us enjoy.  Framing is expensive.   But think about what your painting is going to look like before you pop that painting in something you picked up at a garage sale. Also check on how it hangs.  Most exhibit spaces don’t allow saw-tooth or single hooks.  Why? Because they don’t hang straight, or their hanging system does not accommodate such hangers. How you present your work reflects how you feel about your work.

When a student brings a piece of work up to be critiqued. We usually put a mat around it.  It always amazed them that it looks so much better when you do that.  It is because it forces you and the other viewers to look at the painting, not be distracted by what is around it. Take pride in what you do.  It will attract more viewers, and it says so much about you as an artist.

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