Welcome! I'm Julia, and I make art to enrich your space with peace and beauty. Click here to view the newest prints!

Framing your new piece

(Master study of Bouguereau by Rita Harvey)

There are no set rules to having your artwork framed but you may not know where to start. I have put together some general guidelines to help you display your new piece so that it is protected and has a harmonious look.

Throughout the whole framing process, keep in mind this question: will this compliment the painting?

Your end goal is to frame the piece to complement the painting so that it is an extension of the painting. 

When looking at art you don’t want to see the frame first or to immediately notice a brightly colored mat. Ideally, the mat, frame and artwork should be viewed together as one whole piece. 

With that in mind, here are 5 steps to help.

 #1 Go to a professional framing shop

 It is a good idea to take your artwork to a professional framing shop so that it can be properly assembled with quality materials. They can also help balance the frame-to-painting proportions so it has an overall pleasing look.

 #2 Choose acid free

 If you have an emotional and or financial investment in your artwork, you probably want your piece to last forever. Ask your framer for acid free and archival methods to protect your piece.

 #3 Matting

A mat is a thin, flat piece of paper-based material that boarders artwork inside a picture frame.

Matting is used for watercolors, prints, drawings and photography. Matting helps to enhance the painting and keeps it from sticking to the glass.

Ask for mats that are acid free. You can recognize an acid free mat by the pure white on its beveled edge.

Some mats contain acid in them, and this can turn the artwork brown and ruin your piece. Inexpensive mats usually have acid in them; these mats are often included in frames that come with a mat.

Mat Colors

White is the most common color of mat used. There are many white mats available; antique whites, whites with hints of pink or blue, etc. I typically choose a soft white mat that has similar tones found in the painting, so it complements the painting. Lay the mat next to the painting and see how they look together. Do they look good together?

Neutral colored mats can work well also. If you want to add a colored mat, go with colors that are dominant in the painting.

#4 Choosing a frame

If a frame is very large, brightly colored and ornate, it can detract from the art. If a frame is too small then it doesn’t give the painting the importance it deserves. Your framer should be able to tell you how thick the frame needs to be so the painting looks balanced.

It’s best to look for a frame that complements the artwork in style and colors. 

Don’t worry about matching a frame to other frames you have. If your painting looks good in a frame, it will look lovely no matter where it is.

Money saving tip- Purchase a premade, standard size frame and have a professional framer cut a custom mat to fit.

If in doubt - keep it simple.

#5 The final touch, glazing

Oil and acrylic paintings are not framed with glass, but watercolors, prints and drawings do need glass for protection from dirt and dust.

There are pros and cons to glass and Plexiglas (also called acrylic). Here are a few things to keep in mind when making your selection.


Plexiglas is wonderfully lightweight and shatter-resistant; it is good if you frequently experience earthquakes in your area. The downside to Plexiglas is that it may scratch; it can’t it be cleaned with glass cleaner, and it is more expensive than glass.


Glass is much less expensive and of course can be cleaned with glass cleaners but it is heavy, especially with very large paintings.

Real glass is often preferred with works done in graphite, pastels or charcoal because it doesn’t have the buildup of static electricity on the surface which can pull the medium off the paper.

Both glass and Plexiglas can come with UV filers to add protection from the sun’s harmful rays that can fade the painting. They are also available in non-glare to cut reflections by 85%.

These steps will help you showcase and preserve your treasure for years to come!

Know a friend that needs something framed? Share these tips with them to help them out.