This question comes up periodically at Finishing Touches. Many times the framed artwork in question is a lovely work of art that was received as a gift and the framing just doesn’t feel right to the customer. Or it is a picture that worked for many years but now is just tired. The short answer is “maybe”.
When a customer comes in asking that question, we take the time to look at the framing. If the frame itself is in good shape and works with the artwork, we ask if the frame fits comfortably in the room where it is hanging. If the answer is “Yes”, then maybe it’s the matting or the glass that isn’t working. Often, cutting new mats in a different color combination does wonders for the look of the art. Is there is too much reflection where it is hanging? In that case we recommend changing the glass to Museum Glass or Conservation Reflection Control. And if it was framed many years ago with non-glare glass the problem could be that the art looks dull. The old non-glare glass had a “foggy” appearance that didn’t allow the colors of the art to show through. Changing to Museum glass or Conservation Clear glass can do wonders to brighten up artwork, and both have 99% UV protection. Conversely, if the matting and glass work, but the frame is just not right, we can often just switch out the frame and keep the glass and matting.
But in some cases, nothing is working, and the best course of action is to start over, as was the case with this artwork. The framing had worked fine for many years, but was now dated. The frame was not in good shape and seemed a little small for the artwork. Also, the matting was old and not acid free as you can see by looking at the bevel against the art. It has browned with age. You can also see that it has impacted the artwork on the left side of the sky where the art has discolored as well.
Our customer wanted something that was lighter and more up-to-date, that also reflected the seaside feel of the artwork and where it was going to be residing. We took it out of the frame and talked about the artwork and where was it going to “live”. What was the style of the room? What were the colors in the room? Were there any other framed pieces in the room that this should coordinate with? What was the light like in the room? We tried a few different combinations and found one that our customer loved.
The watercolor had a very dark feel in the former framing and now has a much lighter, happier, feel. The colors are perfect for the artwork as well as the space where it will now reside. And the frame is a soft gray with a rustic finish that works so well with the watercolor. There is just a touch of silver that glistens in the light and reminds one of the light reflecting on the water.
We loved this “makeover” and our customer did, too.