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Why is framing a painting so important?

When I began as an artist five years ago, I didn’t really know about framing. To be honest, I didn’t see any point or significance in paying large amounts for a frame – surely the picture was what it was all about, and no one ever noticed the frame?

Previously, I’d framed certificates, artwork, jigsaw puzzles, etc., but they were always in a basic, standard style or in Ikea frames. However, one day, I stepped foot into The Frame Society, a bespoke framing and art gallery located on Lorong Mambong, Holland Village in Singapore, and my perception completely changed.

Enhancing Painting through Artistic Framing
The Oak and Blue Linen Inlay pop the colours of the Painting

Transforming a painting

Armed with my Peony Watercolour painting "A Thousand Blooms", I discussed wanting a contemporary look and feel, something not too rigid and hard, but a frame that managed to extend the river in the painting.

Peony Watercolour Mishell Leong
I wanted to extend the blue river on the Watercolour painting

Alex, at the Frame Society, suggested a mounted frame with a gorgeous deep blue linen side – to suit both a feminine or more masculine room. I sort of understood what that meant but just couldn’t visualise it.

A week later, I returned to pick up the painting and was blown away - the result was stunning! I was astounded how the framing not only extended the water but gave it space to breathe while providing greater depth.

Framing by The Frame Society
Final framing approach - shadow frame with a white linen backing and blue linen on the side

Like art, framing is a very personal thing. Such a framing style may suit one but not another. I had a buyer who wanted the frame on one of my paintings to be gold and more opulent. The artwork was mounted accordingly, and again, it changed before my eyes.

My sensual art collection was also a great educator for me. Having experimented with different framing styles, Alex went to the extent of custom colour matching one of the frames to the artwork. The result was exquisite.

At an exhibition, my paintings were extremely eye-catching and received lots of attention. They were elevated by the framing, and there were numerous comments about how the frames were a piece of art in themselves.

Sensual Art Collection Mishell Leong
Diverse and Artistic Framing style for my Sensual Art Collection

I could also see how the frames completely transformed the presentation of the artwork itself - allowing me to break into a higher price range. I understood how framing them in simple, standard pine wood framing, would create a far less eye-catching effect.

Preserving your artwork

Apart from aesthetics, framing also plays a crucial part in protecting your artwork. With more of us being global citizens, moving from climate to climate can have a detrimental effect on your artwork.

Organic materials such as paper and canvas expand and contract - depending on the humidity and temperature. If not appropriately framed, it can ruin your paintings. For example, if the artwork is glue fixed to a backing board, it can tear when moved into a colder and drier environment. This is a prevalent issue for those moving from Singapore to Europe because humidity causes the paper to warp slightly if it has been glued and framed incorrectly.

Mould issues

Another common issue is mould in the framing due to trapped moisture. Artwork such as oil paintings on canvas, which tend to get framed in glass to "protect" them, need to breathe and dry slowly. Depending on the thickness, an oil painting can take years to dry properly.

How to frame

One essential tip is to pick the main frame colour you want that will cause your painting to "pop".

For my "Ketupat and Sirap Bandung" painting it literally took one whole hour to decide on the colour. Finally, we agreed on lilac, which created a fantastic end result. The oak frame complemented the organic banana leaf, and the lilac made the background come to life. Gaining an instant depth, the eye was drawn to the centre of the picture. The difference between being 'naked' to being in this tailored frame was astounding!

Ketupat and Sirap Bandung Mishell Leong
The choice of the Lavender colour inlay really helped popped the colours

I could talk for hours on the benefits of framing and give plenty of useful tips from my experiences over the years. Leave me a comment and let me know if you would like to learn more?

In the meantime, whenever I am asked if an artwork should be framed, my answer is always YES! It will complete your treasured painting and elevate it to another level. Trust me.

Oak Wood with Red Linen inlay to pop the red hues of the painting
Oak Wood with Vermillion red linen inlay to pop the red hues in this painting 'Awful Cats'

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