Saturday, March 10, 2012

To paint or not to paint

I usually work on cradled panels or gallery wrapped canvases and don't frame. I like my work to look like objects and I want the eye to wander not to be constrained by a frame.  The edge of the support is very visible to  the viewer when the work is hung in the gallery.  The decision of what to do with the sides causes me more stress than actually painting the work!  I've researched this topic to see what other artists do. Opinion and options vary;  there is no rule when it comes to dealing with the edges of a canvas. It's a matter of personal preference. Here are some of the treatments I've used  depending on the piece...

 Paintthe edges in a color that was used in painting itself once the painting is completed ;
paint the edge at the same time your are doing your initial blocking in which will provide a harmonious edge .

Paint the edges black if the painting is  dominated by dark colors.

Paint the edges white,  cream or light gray if it is a light painting.

Extend the painting around the edges. I can't say this is a favourite, but I did it several times.  There's something visually confusing about it.  

Tape off the edges while painting and remove the tape to show  the pristine canvas. I've only done this once and it looks very stark.  I know artists who consistently deal with the sides of gallery wrapped canvases this way.  

And finally , mix all the unused paint on the palette at the end of the painting and paint  the sides to harmonize beautifully. I've never done this, but I think it would work well. It's on my list to try. 

What would you do with the sides of these two paintings? They are part of a new series   using  encaustic monotype mounted on cradled panel with birch plywood sides.  Right now I've sealed the plywood sides.  Which looks good but all the grain has to be running consistently and my four sides vary.
If you use gallery wrapped canvas or cradled panels how do you treat the sides?  I'm hoping to get lots of opinions on this topic.  And I would really like to hear your thoughts on finishing the sides of the two works above.


DJ said...

Hi, found you via Art Propelled and enjoyed reading your posts. I use gallery-wrapped canvases and am presently making the same decisions regarding the edge. Right now, I'm painting the edges with colors extended from the composition. But I'm seriously thinking of changing to a solid color relating to the work, which gives a neater appearance. The black/white option is a bit too stark for my work, but the related color could work for me.
In the end, it's a personal aesthetic, anyway. :-)
Your work is lovely! I'll be back.

Anonymous said...

I generally paint all of my canvas edges black or sometimes choose one of the dominant colours in the painting to use :)

Jeanette said...

A colour from the painting itself, usually something that doesn't provide a lot of contrast or I paint the edges white.

I keep wondering if I should frame them, but it seems to defeat the purpose of buying gallery canvas in the first place, doesn't it?

The painting seems to dictate what finish is required.

-Don said...

I've tried all of the methods that you mention and have found that I like painting the edges black the best. In fact, of my last 200 paintings only one has not had the edges painted black - I used white for that one. What I like best about sticking to one choice is that I no longer have to think about the edges. Now my entire focus is on the painting.

Based on my statement above I think my answer to your question concerning the edges of your two recent works is self-evident. :-)


Carole said...

Hi Margaret, I usually paint my edges black or paynes grey but have used white for very light paintings as the black seems to weigh light paintings down.

I like the idea of leaving the sides of the wooden boards natural but an art friend told me she thought it looked unfinished to her.

Great question!

Margaret Ryall said...

Black seems to be the easiest solution but I find it looks harsh on most work. I've also thought about gray but it doesn't work with everything. The conclusion I've reached is to paint the sides a related colour from the painting if it is one painting that will be displayed in a group show. One problem with that thought... when you have a solo show and you have all different colour sides it looks very disjointed. Pondering still .

Mark Sheeky said...

I'd frame them or stick something chunky on the edges... perhaps floating frame. I went to an expensive gallery last week and everything was framed in huge frames, and it really made the work look impressive! That said I like all of your choices. The use of leftover paint is particularly inventive. I wonder if the edge could compliment the artwork/idea somehow?

Terisia said...

So far I have painted the sides with colors from the painting. I am going to try staining the sides of the cradled wood panels or finishing them with a coating of cold wax.

Amy Woods said...

I wrap the painting around the edges, personally. It's my preferred look on a canvas, so that's what I do.

Margaret Ryall said...

I love the fact that there are so many options. One for whatever your preference.

Abby said...

wahooo such a great idea . Thanks Margaret Ryall for this post.i'll definitely try it.