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...
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.