Picture Frames

The classic tradition of museum display is that of the Uffizi - deep gold frames on a salmon red background wall. This is a formula often repeated for many renaissance paintings. It is also one I sometimes use in internet gallerys -but mostly without the frames. For landscape paintings of high contrast and dark greens the salmon red works well particularly if separated by a neutral (off-white, black) or transit (gold) color.

This is a handy hint for painting as well as framing. When dealing with complementary or opposite colors red-green or blue-orange try and separate them with a transit or neutral color. Even modern minimalist paintings of clashing compliments are often framed to separate them from a colorful wall. Fierce agressive paintings and color schemes are often impressive and eye catching - but difficult to live with. As with most art the understated is usually more powerful in the long run (less is more - again!) Below we examine three overall elements and their relationships -the wall, the frame and the painting.


Example 1. Complementary red wall green painting. Frame echoes the painting in color(darks and green-gold) and swirling shapes.

Example 2. Complementary colors of wall and painting with transition light gold between. 1800's style rococo style frame matches swirling wave. The important feature here is the 'value' differences between the frame and the wall and the frame and the painting.

Example 3. Complementary again. Here the frame and the picture provide a unified package where the rust color of the painting is made even more dominant with the matched frame. This allows the wall green to work.


Example 4. Wall and painting colors are the same and the light gold frame is the complement. Echoes of light and dark from painting to frame.

Example 5. Wall frame and painting colors are the same which allows the small blue and yellow accents. This arrangement gives the painting great depth.

GO TO ... some aspects of modern framing

... or back to main lesson list

GO TO ... some aspects of modern framing

... or back to main lesson list

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