There are strong opinions among artists about framing paintings. Some artists view the framing process as a nuisance and will do anything to avoid it. Others embrace framing their paintings as part of the creative process. Perhaps some accept it with indifference? I would regard myself as falling into the second group. I enjoy framing very much. What is the big deal anyway?
I did not always frame my paintings. I used to hand this over to a friendly framer who gave a discount to artists for work in bulk. Despite this however it was a chunk of cash each month. I could not wait for a sale either, because I could not determine my framer's schedule. The painting had to be ready for delivery, which meant paying for the framing in advance. This hurt cashflow and as any professional artist knows cashflow is important and uncertain. I had to do something about this situation.
The deciding factor was that I did not have creative freedom in the framing process either. I am fussy about the look of the frame and sometimes the framer's available moulding was simply not good enough.
Fortune smiled on me as a friend managed to locate a barely used Morso guillotine and pinning machine. With no second thoughts I jumped in and purchased them then set about building a framing studio. Yes it did take a while to pay myself back and learning the trade was not easy at first. The creative freedom to match my paintings to suitable frames more than made up for the learning curve. As costs go it has saved me a good deal in overhead too. Also the wholesale costs could be passed onto collectors. It is a win-win situation.
I also resolved to avoid skinny-frame syndrome. So often collectors have endured skinny-frames due to high framing costs. An ugly compromise! A generous frame that is sympathetic to the painting makes an enormous difference. Some may say that a good painting must stand on its own. I believe that a good frame will not save a bad painting, but a good painting will be enhanced by a great frame.
Should artists do their own framing? Yes, If you enjoy the idea and do not mind some messy labour now and then. Of course there must be an economic rationale too. Does it detract from the artist's creative work? Personally I find that framing is a welcome break from painting at times. Crunching through mouldings with a giant guillotine can be cathartic! I also get the pleasure of finishing a painting's journey.
There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
Imagine this for a moment. You are looking out over a beautiful scene, perhaps a beach or bushveld, it does not matter. The sounds of nature surround you. No cars, sirens or telephones. No crowds jostle you. Just a gentle breeze to send the clouds drifting by. You are painting this scene. You are caught in the moment as time seems to stand still and your awareness of the moment is intense. Sound ideal? It does to me and it is achievable for the outdoor painter.
It is summer time and for many of us the holidays beckon. A perfect opportunity for artists to try some outdoor painting. So many artists are shocked at the idea of painting outdoors. They imagine the scrutiny of others to be an ordeal, the elements to be uncomfortable or indeed worry about their safety. In reality all of these concerns are easily solved with some preparation and common sense. Painting outdoors is as simple to organise as a morning on the beach or some other destination. It does pay to be prepared though.
There are many options when it comes to painting kit. Like many leisure activities it seems that painting kit is sold at a premium too. For many leisure artists it seems financially prohibitive to spend thousands for this pastime. I have used various easels such as the famous french easel (wood and aluminium), field tripods and pochade boxes. For convenience and versatility I would choose the pochade box over the rest. It is also very cost effective.
It is simple to make a pochade box by converting the basic wooden paint box found at all art stores. Simply add a hinge. Take out the compartments and put in some sort of supports to hold a panel in place. Very easy and aside from the box it is cheap to make too.
The pochade is small enough to be placed on your lap, or a portable table or even on the ground. Ideally you can secure a tripod attachment to the bottom of the box, which opens up more painting opportunities.
All you need now is some sort of panel carrier to transport wet panels safely. A box with some grooves or even nails or tacks placed inside sufficiently spaced to allow for the panels to remain upright. This will be fine for a short trip back to your studio. Some artists even glue matchsticks to the rear edge of the panel then stack the wet panels on top of each other. They then wrap a few elastic bands around the stack to secure them. Cheap and effective!
Remember to paint in the shade or use a beach umbrella or some other form of shelter. The sun should not shine on your panel or palette and sunburn, of course, must be avoided.
For first timers it can be a scary experience painting in view of other people. However this concern quickly fades when you realise that people are not that interested really. Test your pochade system in the backyard or on your balcony. Wherever you choose to paint the plein air experience is one that every artist should try to develop. The rewards are immense.
PS. Have a look at the opportunity below.
Begin Your Outdoor Adventure
I know that many artists are nervous about leaving the studio to paint outdoors. I made it my goal to encourage as many artists as I can to try outdoor painting for themselves. That lead to the course Learn Outdoor Painting With Confidence. In this course you will see the step-by-step approach that I use to make the transition easy. To add further incentive for you I have given you a BIG discount on the course. You can start right now for only $10.00. Pretty good. So click here and start your plein air adventure right now.
NEW: 2 DVD SET