Displaying paintings on the wall

Woods At Sunset, 2009, acrylic on canvas, 30"X30" gallery wrap

What is the best way to install a painting in a room? Paintings come in various sizes and configurations. They are generaly rectangular shaped. Some pieces can be arranged together to form a larger picture. For example two panels that go together are called a diptych, three are a triptych and so on. Many spots around the room can be suitable for hanging a picture. A wall above a couch in a living room, empty spot in a kitchen or a dining room. You, the owner of a painting will have to do some interior designing and have fun with it. Here are some things to keep in mind once the right spot for hanging a painting is found.

Lighting is responsible for how full of colour and brightness the piece will be when caught by a viewer's eyes. Acrylic, oil and paintings/drawings on paper that have to be encased in a frame with glass will all look better on a wall adjacent to the one with a big window in it. If a painting is placed on a wall directly across from a bright window it will reflect the light. This will result in unwanted shine and glistening on the surface of a painting. Direct light also grays out the colours in a painting therefore considerably reducing the vivid qualities of any piece. Avoid displaying a painting on a wall that gets bright sunlight. Direct light will contribute to quick fading, yellowing and aging of a painted surface. Galleries and museums often install moderate strength, overhead spot light above a painting to increase it's brightness. This approach makes any artwork look to the best of its visual potential and the most glamourous. Many rooms come equipped with pot lights or tracking lights that can be directed to give additional lighting to a piece.

The distance between paintings and the hight at which they are positioned on the wall is also important. Anyone looking at a painting shouldn't be distracted by other artworks placed too close. This setting will not allow the viewer to fully appriciate an individual piece. Allow generous spacing between the paintings. In this case "less" is "more". The hight of the painting on the wall is related to the hight of a human body, the average hight of the very people who will be looking at the art. Normaly the middle of the painting should be on the eye level of an average person. This is not often possible in the home setting, that is why it is possible to elevate a painting a little higher on the wall than the museum instalation would require.

Consider thinking of how the paintings work together when they are hanging on the walls of a room. Do they match, complement each other, go well with the furniture? Do change them around to get a different perspective. You may find that the new configuration is better and if not you can alway go back to the way it used to be.

Paintings collect dust and other bits of dirt when they hang on the wall. Like most other objects they need to be dusted and whiped with a damp rug every so often.

by Maxim Grunin MFA

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