Framing Canvas Art
One question we are frequently asked is whether to frame canvas art. An understanding of canvas art will help you decide whether framing it is right for you.
You will find canvas art in one of 2 basic presentations: stretched or unstretched. A loose canvas by itself, not mounted on anything is unstretched, whereas a canvas mounted tightly on a wood frame is stretched. Artists may create a work on either type of canvas, based solely on their preference. The advantage of an unstretched canvas is easy portability and storage (it can be rolled up into a tube for shipping, or laid flat in a stack of many canvases), whereas a stretched canvas is easy to display.
Up until a few years ago, most canvas art was original work of oil or acrylic paint. Modern technology, however, has enabled fast and economical digital printing on canvas. Today a person is just as likely to display personal photos as well fine art prints (which are essentially photo reproductions of original work) on canvas. A very common misconception about framing canvas is that you should never put it under glass. This might be true of oil paintings on canvas, because oil paints can take years to cure, during which time they emit vapor that can fog the glass. Cure time is really not an issue with acrylic paintings, so they can be placed under glass without problems.
Photos and prints do not cure, so there are no disadvantages to using glass. Not only that, but depending on the piece’s placement in the house, protecting it from UV light and other hazards with high-quality museum glass will ensure it will resist fading for much longer than without the glass. Original watercolor and pastel art is frequently placed under museum glass to resist fading.
Stretched canvases are not always ready for display. Depending on how it was stretched, the canvas may have exposed staples or unpainted bare canvas around the side edges. If this is the case, it must be framed to hide the unfinished edges. People often wonder how this is done, because the stretched canvas has depth and structure to it, unlike photos or prints. We have special frames for canvas which surround but do not touch the edges of the stretched canvas. These are called “floater” frames, because of the way the canvas appears to float inside the frame.
Examples of canvas in float frames
Stretched canvases intended for presentation without a frame will be “gallery wrapped.” This refers to the fact that the canvas is stapled on the back surface of the stretchers giving the edges a more finished look. The artist will also paint the edges to complete the work. Here are some examples of gallery wrapped art.
Gallery Wrapped Artwork
If you have an unstretched work on canvas, we can stretch and mount it in a floater frame, or we can mat and mount it like any flat work. Both are aesthetically pleasing options.
So the short answer to the question “Should I frame my canvas art,” is ABSOLUTELY! We might be a little biased, but we feel that displaying a canvas without a frame makes it seem incomplete. Just as you wouldn’t stick your wedding photos on the wall without a frame, we suggest that your canvas art should be given the same thoughtful presentation. It was meaningful enough for you to purchase, so give the art its due and consider designing a frame to really enhance its appeal.