Bring Out the Best in Your Portrait with the Perfect Frame and Lighting

Commissioning a fine art portrait through Portraits, Inc. includes everything from selecting an artist to framing and lighting the finished work. Each step of the process is an essential piece of creating a beautiful, finished work.


The purpose of a frame is to help your portrait stand out in a room, while also creating cohesion between the portrait and its setting. Your painting shouldn’t blend into the room, nor should it be obtrusive.


When you hang your portrait, not just any light will do. Some bulbs can damage your painting, while others can distort the colors. A Portraits, Inc. associate will guide you through every phase of the commissioning process to make sure that your portrait looks stunning wherever you hang it.


Framing Your Painting


Frames help complete a painting or drawing, but not all pieces have frames. Sometimes the paintings have unfinished edges that a frame covers, but gallery-wrapped canvases are stretched and secured at the back of the frame instead of the sides. The painting cascades around the edges of the canvas and becomes an integral part of the work that you won’t want to cover up.


Usually, the painting will dictate its frame. Traditional paintings pair well with large, ornate frames. Gold-leaf or rich materials like mahogany are timeless partners for traditional portraits. If the painting has a modern flair, it will pair well with sleek, clean frames. If your portrait falls somewhere between traditional and contemporary, you can finish it with a frame that blends the two styles. A handsome mahogany frame with minimal decoration would look splendid.


Two drawn portraits of little girls with flower crowns in gold frames.


The frame does not, in all cases, have to match the setting where it’ll hang. However, you can use the frame to create cohesion between the painting and the setting. A traditional portrait hung in a modern space could have a large, thick frame, but minimal ornamentation. The material of the frame could mirror the finishes of the modern space, but in a shade that complements the colors of the traditional painting. If the painting and its frame complement each other well, it can hang almost anywhere.


Framing Your Drawing


Framing for pastels, charcoals, and watercolors is a bit different than paintings, but many of the same guidelines apply. The frame should complement the colors in the portrait, and the style of the frame should match how traditional or modern the piece is.


In most cases, you’ll frame a drawing under glass to preserve it. Acrylic glass is an excellent choice for large pieces because it’s lightweight, though it can scratch easily. Museum glass is another great alternative because it eliminates UV light, but it’s heavier and more costly.


When you frame a drawing, you need a layer of matting to lay over top of the work to protect it from the glass. You can play with the color, finish, and the size of the mat to achieve any look that you desire. If you prefer to showcase the rough edges of your drawing, you can mount the piece onto a backboard support and display it in a floating frame.


Styling Your Portrait


Gallery walls are trendy in contemporary décor. If you’re styling a gallery wall, you can get creative with your framing to play with texture, color, and finish. Each piece doesn’t have to match the rest; they just have to all “go” together. You can follow a common theme such as similar sizes, color families, frame material, or texture. Gallery walls are also a clever way to bring a traditional painting into a modern space.


Living room with a gallery wall of painted portraits surrounded by bookshelves


The size of a portrait often influences the frame. Large works can diminish small, thin frames, while smaller portraits are easily overwhelmed by oversized frames. However, feel free to throw the rules out the window if it helps you create a unique look that you’ll love.


Lighting Your Portrait


There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to lighting your art. Glass-framed drawings and oil paintings are reflective, so they need a broad source of light to reduce glare.


If you have a sturdy frame, you could attach a picture light to it, or you can select any spotlight that suits the décor in the space where it’ll hang. Directional recessed lights, track lights, and telescoping lights are common in homes and work beautifully to highlight art.


Painted portrait of a young girl in a pink dress with an ornate gold frame and light above.


The light bulb that you use will have a dramatic impact on the appearance of the colors in the painting. Portraits with warm, rich colors will look best with bulbs in the 2400 - 3000 Kelvin range, while paintings with light, bright colors will look better under bulbs in the 3000 - 4500 Kelvin range.


Halogen bulbs create a very pure white, so they won’t alter the colors in the painting. However, they generate a lot of heat so they can damage oil paintings if they’re mounted too close. LED bulbs are a smart choice for temperature-sensitive works because they don’t create heat.


Finish Your Fine Art Portrait with the Perfect Frame and Light


You have a lot of factors to weigh when choosing the frame and lighting for your fine art portrait. The combinations are virtually endless, but you can rely on our extensive experience to help you perfect your cherished portrait with the ideal frame and lighting.


About Portraits, Inc.:


If you have a vision that can only be served by a fine art painting, then the right time to commission a piece is now. Request more information on commissioning a fine art portrait from Portraits, Inc, or give us a call at 1-800-476-1223 today.