Kathy Radford writes:
Could you cover the subject of colored matting and framing? I was told many galleries only allow white matting. I understand it is easier for the artists to order all white in bulk to save money and all work looks uniform, but my personal preference is to use color matting.
Kathy, I know I’m not going to change your mind and that this is a matter of personal preference, but I’m siding with the white mats here. It’s my museum background that is coloring (pun intended) my choice. I simply have a strong distaste for almost all colored mats. And, because I like art on colorful walls (not just white walls), the colored mats would inevitably clash or limit my selections.
If you want to show your work in galleries, this may be something you have to concede. Galleries know what sells. They know what their customers want. And they know that a wall full of different-colored mats is terribly distracting. Like museums, galleries have to accommodate a number of artists simultaneously while making their galleries look as classy as possible.
If you click on the "continue reading" link below, you’ll see the rest of Kathy’s letter and how she selects mats and frames for arts festivals.
What do you think?
Image (c) Kathy Radford, Another Barn with Broken Windows.
This is the rest of Kathy's email:
I spend hours picking out mats for my photographs. Matting and frame is
an art in itself. I personally feel the matting and framing can make or
break a piece of art. Recently my artist friend and I walked around a
local gallery critiquing mats and frames. We were surprised at how many
of the pieces, although beautiful in itself, really took away from the
artwork. Had they chosen them differently they could really pop. What a
When I do local arts & craft fairs, I display the exact same photo
with two different colored mats and different frames. The photo is a
white barn off in a field of snow with some trees in both the
foreground and background. One photo has a light blue mat with a narrow
black metal frame. The light blue brings out the soft blue of the snow.
The other has a dark blue mat with a wider white wooden frame. This
makes the scene look much colder. It is also amazing how the trees
appear in both photos, one brings out the trees more, one makes the
barn look closer.
When I take my photos, I look for a particular feel to each shot. I
want them to stir ones emotions. That is why I use these two identical
photos to point out to the public just how important matting and
framing is to the art piece. I ask them which one they prefer, and to
my surprise it has run about 50/50. When I bought the original mats I
was looking for the light blue to bring out the color in the snow. I
happened to place the dark blue one on the photo and was surprised and
how much it changed that feel. Then I couldn't decided which one
because I really liked both. After about a half hour of not being able
to decide, I bought both deciding to ask the public. The two have
really sparked a lot of controversy.
My feelings are why would you want all white mats when you can enhance
your work to it's maximum impact by simply changing the mat and frame.
After all the whole purpose is to sell your work and you want to take
it to the max. Why settle for so-so when you can make such impact with
your work by choosing the right matting and framing.