Do’s & Don’ts of Framing with Liz Seward

Friday 1st July 2022

Liz Seward has been a member of Frimley & Camberley Society of Arts since 1979.  She is now the President of the Society and as she looked around the room, which was well attended, she recognised a lot of familiar faces.  At the same time, there were a few new members and there is no doubt that whether old or new, by the end of the evening everyone was better informed about how and why to frame.

Canvas Pictures can be exhibited in a variety of different media, canvas oils or acrylics, watercolour paintings, pastel, and pencil artwork.  There is a wide variety of frames available on the internet or from frame shops.  It is always possible to get artwork framed professionally, but this is expensive, and so many artists frame their own work.

Liz holding a painting (on its side) to show the edging that was used instead of a full frame.

Liz began by talking about canvases.   Remember, the smaller the canvas the larger and wider the frame should be.  The bigger the canvas the narrower the frame can be.Here she is holding a relatively large, thin canvas that has been edged with batons.

Liz uses Peter Turner at Farnborough Gallery to make her frames and she would certainly recommend him.

Box canvases can be unframed but the painting should continue around all of the sides if these are left unframed.

D-rings attached to the backing board of pencil painting. Brown gum strip is not over the frame as this is not a watercolour.

Paintings can become damaged when they are being exhibited.  One of the main culprits for doing this damage is screw-eyes.  It is best to always use D-rings as they do not stand out as much.  In fact, Liz showed one painting where the D-rings were screwed into the backing board rather than edge of the frame which meant they were inset.  Some London galleries insist that metal fixtures are covered when paintings are presented for exhibition. 

(NB from Chairman, Peter Tuitt – If cutting or drilling MDF board remember to always wear a mask to prevent MDF dust from entering your lungs.)

Pencil painting in a lime wood frame.

Liz showed us a painting that was done in coloured pencil.  Colour pencil should be framed with a backing board.  The picture should be framed with a bevelled edge.  In this instance the brown sticking paper does not have to be up over the edge of the frame at the back because pencil is a dry medium.

Terminology can be confusing as different words are used for the same thing. An example of this is tray frames which can be used to frame thin canvases.  Tray frames are also known as floater frames and can be used for both canvas and canvas board.  The artwork is loaded at the front of the frame and attached as though it is floating within the frame.  The big advantage of this kind of frame is that it does not have glass.

Here is a link to Jackson’s Framing that provides a Glossary of terms which some may find useful:

Demonstrating a framing staple gun to attach a painting to a tray frame.

Liz showed everyone a framer’s gun which she uses.  It is like a staple gun but with side loading staples.  She also demonstrated how easily these can be removed if the frame is going to be used again for a different painting. 

(Note the D-rings and the chord for hanging the painting are attached to the frame itself.  The painting has been inset and stapled.)

This acrylic ink painting by Liz has a wood frame and double mount

Liz showed us this painting which was done with acrylic inks.   Liz has used a wood frame for this painting.  One advantage of wood is that it stands up to exhibition conditions well.  Ash frames are hard and do not get easily scratched unlike gold frames which are very vulnerable to knocks and scratches.


Watercolour paintings need to be carefully framed and sealed so that they cannot be invaded by thunder flies or moisture.  They can be vulnerable to changes in climate.  Do not use masking tape to seal these. It is best to use brown gum strip.  

Watercolours should be mounted which ensures the painting does not touch the glass of the frame.  Liz thinks it is best not to use coloured mounts although a coloured slip or a double mount looks good.   

Assembling a watercolour starts with the backing board, next there is cartridge paper, then the painting in its mount, and finally carefully cleaned glass.  Always double check before sealing the back with the gummed brown paper strips.  Do not use non-reflective glass as this is very fragile and expensive.

The use of frames with Perspex glass has become acceptable as it is so much lighter than glass.  Perspex tends to scratch very easily and there are still some art galleries that insist on glass but FCSA will accept undamaged Perspex at the Annual Exhibition this year.

Liz demonstrating how wide a mount should be on an A4 painting

Mounts for an A4 painting should be 2 ½ – 2 ¾ inches wide.  Marie Bunce asked how wide the mount should be on this painting of hers and Liz demonstrated how effective it is to use pre-cut boarders to see what a painting will look like with different size mounts.

Front and back of paintings prepared for the Portfolio rack in an exhibition


Once again terminology can be confusing.  Portfolios can be referred to as ‘browsers’ but they are essentially unframed paintings.  These are often paintings that have not found a home and remain unsold at the end of an exhibition.

These must be mounted with backing board and covered in cellophane.  Liz buys florist cellophane for large paintings but it is possible to buy standard sizes online.  Do not use clingfilm. This does not work.  It sticks and looks awful.

Large portfolios can be covered with florists’ cellophane.

Portfolios must be labelled on the front and preferably in the middle with the artist’s name, title, medium and price.  They are displayed in a stack in an art display rack.   If they are labelled on the back, in the same way as the ‘Ready-To-Hang’ paintings, the result is that everyone lifts them out of the rack to look at the information.  This leads to the paintings being handled more than is necessary and consequently bent and damaged.

There is no substitute for experience and if ever there was a demonstration of the truth of this statement, this evening was it! Thank you to Liz for all her advice and expertise.

Notes & photos taken by Carole Head.

One reply on “Do’s & Don’ts of Framing with Liz Seward”

Thanks Carole for send this useful information. I did want to come last friday but i couldn’t make it and i was very upset. So i do appreciate the information. Thanks!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *