Frame or not?

I’d like each frame around my paintings to be a little gem, or if it’s larger, then sophisticated, well-made, and long lasting. It must protect the painting, and accompany it for years. It should attract the eye toward the painting, and compliment it, yet not draw attention to itself. The frame is like a window sill and curtains; we tend not to notice those but to look past them and enjoy the view out the window.

If I get stuck on the considerations of the frame, I’m soon distracted from making the art! That’s too big a trade-off, so I find some middle ground: a modest frame that does the job. I allow that in someone else’s hands, the frame could be much more of a statement, and set the artwork off better than the frame I’ve chosen.

Some artists have been famous for making their own frames. Such a frame can be a collector’s item in its own right. The artist made the frame especially for that painting, and to retain value, the frame must remain with that painting forever. It has become part of the art.

But that kind of attention to the frame is not for me. I have some of the tools, I could set up a workshop and make my frames, but the time I would spend on that would make it drudgery. My interest is in the painting itself.

All this is an explanation, that for now I give away the frame on paintings for which I provided a frame. Don’t mind me while I look for ways to leave the frame behind, yet still have a wall-ready piece of art. I look for the day when my paintings will be offered without the frame and people will not care at all, they will be aware that they are going to take care of that aspect on their own.

That day is coming soon. When I run out of frames, I’ll let the purchasers decide about how to frame my painting. Local frame shops will be glad to see the collectors of my paintings coming. Frame shop owners I know are extremely knowledgeable, have good taste, and will be able to help guide decisions about the style, size, and look of the frame around a particular painting. And that’s OK with me, because once a painting goes out the door, I’m wishing the new owner well. And I’m already on to the start of the next painting.

Alison C. Dibble | 15 August 2020