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Savvy Tips for Hanging Paintings

“The man who has honesty, integrity, the love of inquiry, the desire to see beyond, is ready to appreciate good art. He needs no one to give him an ‘Art Education’: he is already qualified. He needs but to see pictures with his active mind, look into them for the things that belong to him, and he will find soon enough in himself an art connoisseur and an art lover of the first order.” – Robert Henri.

You received a picture as a present or you decided to treat yourself to art. Now, you have to decide where to hang it.

Here are some tips to keep your painting in good condition for a long time:

– best to avoid direct sunlight
– best to avoid heat sources
– best to avoid steamy bathrooms
– best to place in good light
– best to think “showcase” when you think about where to hang your art
– best to consider the “context” in which it will be viewed
– best to consider the statement it will make in its new home
– then ask yourself if that statement is right for the space where you placed it
– then ask yourself what meaning the art conveys in its new space

– best to lift frames with one hand on the bottom and one hand on the side to avoid damaging frame
– best to place art at eye level
– best to place to scale, big painting on a big wall, small painting in small space, or in a suitable cluster on a large wall
– best to understand the importance of weight and hooks and go up one notch heavier than the weight of your painting
– best to understand the wall–drywall, plaster, masonry, or brick–and use the appropriate hanger
– best to have your picture hung from taught wire rather than alligator hooks for straight and even placement
– two people are better than one when hanging art, one to mark the placement, the other to hold the art until it is satisfactorily hung to avoid marking up the wall
– best to attach the gummed rubber disks to each corner on the bottom of the frame to keep it from marking the wall if you frame it yourself
– best to use a level to make sure the hung painting is straight

You may wonder why I did not go into detail about how to measure out the hanging of the hook or hooks in the case of a very heavy painting. In hanging shows with other artists, I have discovered that there are as many ways of deciding where to put each hook as there are artists. Once I hung with an engineer who measured out the whole wall vertically, subtracted the length of the painting, then measured out the wall horizontally, subtracted out the width of the painting, found eye level, then subtracted the space from the wire to the top of the painting. You get the idea. At the other end of the spectrum, I use my artist’s eye to find the place for the hook, then I take into consideration the space between the top of the wire and the top of the painting and I have the painting hung before the engineer has finished the horizontal equation.

Is hanging a painting all that important? I think it is. After all, most times, a painting usually lives a long time where it is first hung. Think back to your parents’ home. I remember my parents had “The Blue Boy” and “Pinky” next to one another on the long wall the entire time we lived in the house, some 30 years.

At other times, I will discuss tips and traps when buying art, along with more detail about caring for your art.

I am always available to answer art acquisition and preservation questions you may have. If I don’t know the answer, I know where to go to get you the best answer possible from the professionals in my circle. No one knows all the answers. Among the entire group of us, I think we have the subject well covered.

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