Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Today I am gladly back to work after the festive last days of December into January.  I reframed two large watercolors for an upcoming juried show. Originally I had floated the watercolors (on 300 lb paper) in the frame but after viewing under various lighting conditions I felt the technique detracted from the paintings. So after several hours, with one paper cut on a finger, a matboard wasted, and cat hairs removed between the Plexiglas and the mat the two paintings were framed. With a wide white border these two paintings now look vibrant.

While I was cutting a third matboard, due to scratches on the second one not seen until it was under the Plexiglas, I was thinking of the cost of framing. I recently read a well written blog by Rhode Island artist Jason Brockert titled “Why Does Art Cost so Much?" He succinctly explains both the hidden and real costs of a painting. I would highly recommend reading this article and passing it along to non-artist family and friends who do not understand why we or galleries charge that price for the work.

I use a full sheet, 22 x 30 inches, of watercolor paper for my work. For the mat board I use 6-ply and a full sheet measure 32 x 40 inches and costs $15.44. This does not include shipping (from Portland, OR) nor the minimum orders required. Since my frame size is 28 x 36 inches there is little matboard left over except the fallout which can be used for a much smaller work. There are a lot of scraps in my studio. For the backing board I use archival 3/16th inch Foam Core and again requiring most of a full sheet with no fallout. A 28 x 36 inch Plexiglas can be hefty if priced locally so along with the matboard, Foam Core, and Nielsen metal frames my resource of choice is Documounts of Portland, OR. Then there is wire, archival tape, bumpers, labeling, and framing hardware to add up along with assembly time. If the planets are aligned favorably sometimes it can be a breeze to frame so I would figure two hours a painting. What does it all cost? Well, now I have to do the actual math…. Though, once framed, the feeling, on viewing the work, is priceless.

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