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Monday, January 30, 2012

Matting: The Presentation of Works on Paper

No fresh flowers were bought Sunday. Wet snow kept falling all day long. Any excursions out of the house seemed silly. So I did one more rendition of my dead roses. I really went down to the studio to clean. but painted instead.

In the studio, I have a flap mat I use to check the composition of my works on paper and to get an idea of what they would look like framed. My "working" flap-mat has convinced me that works on paper must be matted to be considered finished--and to be safely stored, or better yet, to be shipped off to some highly intelligent person who knows talent when she sees it. A professional presentation is everything.

I have a few opinions about matting artwork.

I prefer white or off white mats to colored ones. A colored mat selected because it picks up one of colors in the painting sort of becomes an extension of the painting, instead a space allowance that lets the painting breathe before it's framed in solid. White makes the shadows deeper and the lights brighter; it enhances the colors.

I prefer a flap-mat. It protects the painting for both storage and shipping. It looks important. From a customer's viewpoint: Pulling a matted painting out of a padded shipping envelope is more of an immediate WOW than pulling a painting sandwiched between two pieces of brown cardboard. The matted presentation lets the buyer knows she bought something special from a professional artist and her money was well spent. Plus her artwork is frame-ready.

Matted paperworks send a professional image out into the world. --And to really put forth a professional image, you can't beat the look of a double white window mat; the break-line between the cantilevered mats adds dimension, an architectural element, an element of sophistication.

All of this finished packaging does add to the cost of the painting, which of course would be reflected in the retail pricing of the painting. Production and presentation of original works on paper go hand-in-hand. --I think I made a business decision here that makes painting my little warm-up watercolors a bit more complicated. It's so much easier to just paint them, enjoy the doing of it and then store them in a portfolio on a shelf. The added aesthetics make it worth it though.

[For those of you who don't know what a flap-mat is, it's a single mat with a window attached to an identical sized piece of acid-free foam board with drafting tape along the top holding the two boards together so they make a "sandwich"].


  1. What an interesting post Linda. I am sure the customer always pays for the packaging, whatever the product. I am all for nice packaging.

  2. Linda I totally agree with you on the matting, it really changes everything, and looks very professional. Great post.

  3. Me too Agnes--plus this packaging PLUS painting in standard sizes allows the customer to pop the package into a standard size, much less costly, frame. --It's not like cosmetics and perfumes where those beautiful boxes are pitched into the trash upon opening.

  4. Jane I'm so glad. My spouse disagreed sort of. He thinks the cost of it hikes up the price and may price the painting out-of-the-online-market. The online market is basically catalogue sales. Catalogue sales are a different ballgame than selling out of a gallery. There are all sorts of things to think about besides the gallery owner's cut and (possibly) hanging fees.

  5. Very interesting and gives me something to think about when the day finally comes to sell my art.

  6. I agree with you, mats are so important. Nothing brings a work down faster than to have it displayed poorly! (but...truthfully, I am glad that mats are "not my problem"!)

    I love the look of this floral with and without the white border :)

  7. Without the white border, you're thinking painting on a substantial ground, but this is small and on paper; it needs matting. As it is, it isn't anymore. I carried the painting too far. Spoiled the watercolor effect and moved into the realm of acrylics. The hardest part of painting watercolors Celeste is I'm an acrylic painter and have enjoyed the flexibility of that medium. Watercolor doesn't give an inch.

  8. Mats does make such a difference to the presentation.