The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Frame for a painting

You can choose a frame for your painting at home using my nifty bit of software on my website, its easy! You don't even need to leave home to do it.  I detail how to do this at the end of this blog post but first, let's talk about framing!

Framing paintings or photos has, for me, been just a little bit stressful in the past. I have stood in the framing shop and been totally overwhelmed by the range, size and then the price of the frames. So from this experience I thought I would put together a little guide for choosing a frame before you even get to the framers.

I have been painting watercolours lately and these will need a lovely frame with glass to set them off. 

Most of my paintings are on canvas so don't generally need a frame or glass. 

What if you want a framed smaller painting on paper but have no idea about how it will look or whether or not the size will be right for your space.


Firstly consider where you would like the painting to go in your home. Do you have a space in mind? Will it be with other pictures? I tend to choose colours in the room that it will go with say cushions or some small item. Is the space too big for the painting?

Think about the final framed size, which is usually bigger than the actual painting.

Will it be in a bright sunny space? Watercolour paintings do best out of direct full sun, they can lose their colour. This can take many years but just so you are aware. Watch out for framers that want to up the cost of framing with non-reflective glass, this stops everything in the room reflecting in the glass. Usually it isn't too much of a problem but it can be an asset so something to consider.


What format is the painting is e.g. is it a landscape format or a portrait format? (portrait is longer in height and landscape is longer in width).

My January 2024 watercolour series, such as Autumn Afternoon, pictured here, is painted in portrait format.

The actual painted size is 25 x 35cm (before framing) it has a white border (not shown here adding about 3 cm to each side) which makes it easy for a mount to be placed over, more on that later. 

Autumn Afternoon watercolour painting by Jane Denman


Below you can see that I have added a mount (the white area around the painting) and it has a slim wood frame in black. Here I can  show you a variety of frame colours using my computer. 

Things to consider: width of frame (here is 1.0cm wide) and the mount or mat as its also called, is 7.1cm around the painting so increasing the size considerably, great if you need something a little larger


(This mock up for the frame is done in my computer app)

Most good framers would probably have a smaller selection of frame colours than illustrated here.

What is interesting to see is how the mount (white area) totally changes how the painting looks. Framers will ask you what colour mount you would like and then show you about 30 different whites! Choose cool or warm whites by placing a bright white next to the others and then to the painting.

Here's what the painting looks like with a completely different frame but with no mount/mat. The frame comes right up to the painting contrasting with the colours, it can make it pop! This is a good choice if you don't want a larger framed painting.

So here are a few examples of frames and mounts with the same painting in different spaces.

The verticals of the two doors either sides accentuate the vertical frame and painting

The painting has focal point for the bed and has structure around it with the wall detailing closing in a big wall to almost frame the painting

A huge wall, admittedly rather lovely colourful scene, does dwarf the painting this space probably would look better with a larger landscape piece, what do you think?

Again I feel this frame is too small for the space, even though the colours work well with the room,  adding two more similar sized paintings either side would balance it. All down to personal taste!


Space can make a massive difference to the impact of the painting, is the space  too big for the painting?  Is it the focal point for a room? Will you be adding more photos/paintings? Luckily after it is framed moving paintings around is super easy.

Go off piste... think about a bigger space for a small piece, putting a larger mount around the piece would make the whole thing look bigger and often gives more light to a painting by adding white around it.  Does the painting  have enough strength to pull off a big space?  Will a stronger frame help pull it off?


Choose  your own frame for a painting at home using the following steps below. Decide what works best for you before you go to the framers. You will be able to then show the framers what you want, look through various mounts (take the painting with you) and get your painting framed. 

Follow these simple steps on my website:.

  1. Go to my Painting on Paper galleries  
  2. choose the painting you are interested in
  3. click on ‘Try In Your Room’
  4. Upload a photo of your wall using your phone or tablet
  5. follow the directions
  6. click on Frames - you can then scroll through to see which frame looks good to you with the painting
  7. You can save the photo of the framed painting to your phone or tablet
  8. Once you have decided then you are good to go!


Alternatively, send me a photo here at my email, of the space/wall you wish to hang your painting in and I will provide you, at no cost,  with suggestions of frames with or without mounts so that you can get this sorted with the framer. 

Happy framing!



p.s. let me know what you think about any of the framing ideas in the comments below or get in touch


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