plein air landscape painting
Painting From Life vs. From Photos

It is somewhat rare to show framed pictures on the internet. Perhaps this is because the internet is something of a frame in itself. We are here following Hanneke van Oosterhout’s still-life painting, from the drawing to (hopefully) the gallery-sold work; in real life her work benefits from the real type of frame.

Choosing a good frame is difficult. Compared to painting the painting, choosing the frame is highly constrained by one factor in particular: cost. The ideal frame can raise the market value of a painting, but before an exhibition, one does not know what will sell. Investing in the frame is therefore a sort of speculation. For the painting above, Hanneke felt she made a satisfactory choice. The physical texture of the frame complements that painted in the shells. The frame is made from pre-fabricated profile stock and was not inordinately expensive. In the photo it looks pretty good. But in real life the frame screams, “second rate quality!” The reason for this is simple. The physical texture of the profile stock, prefabricated rather than hand crafted for this frame, does not “mesh” at the corners where the profile was cut and joined together. This subtle aspect is important in real life. It undercuts the value of the frame (and the painting) for the discerning collector. I suppose the really discerning collector would buy the painting and invest in a new frame.

In the work above, the frame is hand-crafted. That is to say, someone did some work decorating the frame after the corners were joined. In the photo, this is not obvious, but in real life, it makes a big difference in the feeling of the frame, its feeling of worth. Of course, this type of frame is somewhat more expensive. But if a painting is good, a certain quality (and expense) of frame is called for, otherwise the frame drags the painting down. A good frame helps, but better no frame than the wrong frame.

The frame depicted above (sorry about the quality of the photo) is made from pre-fabricated stock, the type of frame you can buy at a normal frame-making shop. Although not “hand finished” it does not have a “cheap” feel to it. The reason is clear: the profile “meshes” at the corners, because of its simple form. A handcrafted frame of a similar profile would appear more sophisticated, but the frame above does quite well. Or does it? You comments, as always, are appreciated.