Although the conservation and preservation fundamentals of picture framing offer people the confidence that their art is being handled properly, most people don’t go to a frame shop seeking that understanding. What they want is guidance on the design aspects of picture framing: what mat and frame to choose and the long term aesthetic value that the frame provides.

This can be an enlightening experience. When I work with a client who brings in a piece of art that needs to be framed, there is an un-folding of nuances between color, light and composition. As I begin to select different mat color choices, something starts to speak from the art; it is a sense of wanting to lift towards a subtlety of expression. By playing with different expressions of saturation and light while aiming for a balance between the two, I seek to end up at a place where they both express the fullness of each other.

The process is not as technical as you would think. You just continue placing different mat colors next to the art until you hit that place where both light and saturation of light express the fullness of the artist’s composition. It’s a beautiful experience to bring out this light which is inherent in everything. It is a very natural process, but it cannot be rushed. It’s a wonderful and intimate experience with the client, which also gives me the opportunity to get to know why this piece of art is important to them, where they plan to hang it in their home, what kind of light is in the rooms and their personality.

After the mat is picked the frame selection defines the character of the whole piece. This can be tricky because the same nuanced selection of the mat must also apply to the selection of the frame. This process with the client is what picture framing is all about; it’s like sitting back down at the artist’s easel not knowing where to begin, but allowing the creative process to unfold naturally.

The selection process is important because the framing package needs to be aesthetically pleasing and last for at least 15 years, an industry standard.  Most frame shops carry at least a couple of thousand frame choices, so it can be overwhelming without guidance. In the old days most of the frame choices were limited to different styles of black, silver and gold, but today picture framing has bridged into the interior design and textile industries making the choices and styles limitless.