My Paintings Look Better Framed

Whenever I give a painting away, I always encourage the recipient to frame it. Almost all Impressionist-style paintings look better that way—you never see museum pictures without (usually ornate) frames. The only exceptions that come to mind are Monet’s water lilies at the Musée l’Orangerie in Paris. To that effect, I wouldn’t frame my triptychs. But all of the rest of my paintings look better in frames. Although I sometimes pick them up at garage sales or thrift stores, I purchase new ones online at, which has a good selection at decent prices. In this blog, I will explain the benefits of framing my pictures if you get one.

They Look Better!

Compare how “Amsterdam Windows on the Water” looks above our mantel with and without a frame. The purpose is to bring the viewer’s eyes into the painting instead of being distracted by the objects on the mantel or emptiness of the wall.


Protect the Canvas

I use traditional profile (“studio”) canvases, which only have a 3/4″ depth; and, in rare instances the stretcher bars can warp. A frame keeps the canvas from bending and serves as a barrier to touching. I varnish most paintings before giving them away, which protects the surface (and makes the colors pop). Generally speaking, except for museum-quality pieces, oils should not be covered by glass.

Lots of Options

I tend toward ornate frames and order online from They have a feature that allows you to upload an image of the artwork and then display how it looks in various frames. I’ll show examples with images from their website, but there are also many other art stores and framing shops both online and at physical locations.

Here were four of the two dozen choices I showed to the Balboa Park Conservancy for their Centennial Series:

I think the painting works well with any of these frames: #1 Gold ornate is the most common presentation for Impressionist-style paintings in museums and galleries; #2 Black ornate is more typical for Renaissance art and is more understated than gold; #3 Black with silver liner provides a contemporary, stylish feeling; #4 Cherry wood is simple and clean, and in this instance is a color in the composition (roofline above arch).

Ultimately, we chose one close to #1 but with a less bright gold. Here’s how it looks on their office wall. Actually, we used the same style for all 20 of the pictures I donated.

Of course, the styles that people choose vary considerably depending on the subject matter and their tastes. Here are examples of frames that were selected for some of my paintings:

In addition to the frame itself, there’s the option of whether or not to also include a liner, which is usually cloth with or without further metallics. In the example below, the Botanical Building is shown with only a frame and also with light beige and gold or black liner. The corners are enlarged for detail.

Approximate Costs

A liner can add another layer of design, but also adds to the cost. In this 36 x 24 instance, the frame alone costs about $185 and the liner is an additional $50. A plain black frame for the same size canvas would cost about $95 plus $45 for a liner. By comparison, if the painting were smaller, say 18 x 12, the ornate frame’s price would be $105 (add $35 for liner) and the black would be $50 (add $30 for liner).

My paintings are freely given away, so if you get one, please buy a frame for it. That way, the artwork can shine!


1 Comment

  1. Rory D on November 12, 2021 at 12:26 pm

    I agree that frames add a lot. We are lucky enough to have two of Leigh’s paintings and have framed both with frames purchased online for about $50. 😎

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