How to Frame an Oil Painting

Oil paintings and acrylic paintings on canvas usually need to be stretched on a wooden frame called stretcher bars. There are different widths and thicknesses of stretcher bars to accomodate different sizes and weights of canvas paintings.   Some artists paint on raw canvas and some paint on pre-stretched canvas.  Some artists use deep stretcher bars and paint the sides of the canvas.  How to frame an oil painting will depend to some degree on how the artist has stretched and painted the canvas.

thatched cottage oil painting framed in gold

Thatched cottage oil painting

Framing Traditional Oil Paintings

Traditionally stretched oil paintings have the canvas stapled on the sides of the stretcher bars.  Often a traditional oil painting will be framed with a large frame to give the painting presence.  If you use a frame that is too small for, say, a traditional oil landscape, the effect will be very disappointing.  It is amazing what an appropriately-sized traditional frame can do for an oil painting.  Large wood-toned and antiqued gold or silver frames create a traditional look.  If your painting is very contemporary or abstract, sometimes a simpler cap frame or floater frame is appropriate.  A cap frame is a simple frame that is narrow that simply finishes off the edges of the painting.  A floater frame is different from a traditional frame in that it does not cover the edge of the painting.  It is attached to the stretcher bars from behind and leaves a reveal around the painting.

Framing Gallery Wrapped Contemporary Paintings

Gallery wrapped paintings have the canvas stretched around the stretcher bars to the back and are stapled on the back.  Some artists continue their image onto the sides of their paintings.  Some artists merely paint the sides of their paintings a color, often white or black.  When framing a gallery wrapped painting, the first decision to make is whether the sides of the canvas need to be seen.  If so, a floater frame should be used as traditional frames cover the sides of the canvas.  There is a much larger selection of traditional frames available than of floater frames.  Floaters are usually narrow and simple for a very contemporary look and can be stunning with the right painting.  When seeing the edge of the canvas is desired but a more traditional look works better with the painting, a combination of a traditional frame over a floater can do the job.

walking figure in a silver floater frame

Walking figure in silver floater frame

Framing Souvenir Paintings – Special Cases

Many of our customers travel extensively and often find art by street artists from around the world.  Some of these paintings are by artists who are using non-traditional materials and methods for their paintings that create difficulties in framing them well.  Some have crooked or warped stretcher bars.  Some are painted on thin fabrics that tear when they are stretched.  Some are painted with house paint or combinations of incompatible paints that cause paint failure. Some artists paint on canvas without leaving enough canvas for stretching.  In these cases, we sometimes use alternative mounting methods to help stabilize the canvases and make them ready for framing.  Bring in your painting so we can show you the most beautiful and appropriate framing design for your treasure.

African oil painting framed in brown

African oil painting framed in a rustic brown frame.