Why frame art and what purpose does a frame serve?

The purpose of a frame is to focus your eye. To focus the eye of the viewer, so that your peripheral vision isn’t distracting, doesn’t distract you from the content. Again, the purpose of the frame is to keep your eye on the content of the frame. So that all it does is, the stronger the content is, the more pronounced the frame has to be, in order for you to make sure that it stops your eye from wandering off.

So, we’re looking at this piece here. This one will also help us discuss colour. This particular painting is by Marcelin Cardinal, a franco Saskatchewan artist, who I don’t think is with us anymore, who lived in Quebec for a long time.

Anyway, when Marceline did this, the colours are very very stong. He put that black inside himself.He did that. So then, I now had the painting with the orange with black on the outside and then how do I present it? How is it presented in the way that makes a statement?

I tried with a more traditional ways of putting a black frame around it, but without my having installed that orange, that’s inside but you can see just on the inside there. If I hadn’t used that, the black just killed it, it just became total contrast and when you have total contrast between two items, your eye only goes to the point of contrast and not to the content. Again.

When I put that orange in, I also didn’t want the painting to be too far back. So I had to find a way to push it forward, even though the orange frame is not structured that way. So I put the orange frame into this black frame and then I built a backing that allowed me to move this painting in the forefront. So it’s further to the front.

So, what you have now is, you have steps, you have the frame on a painting, quite important that the frame does that, the frame has to be, it has to stand out more from the painting. The rationale for that is that if anything were to hit it, it hits the frame and not the painting.

So this way the painting is protected. If the painting is flush with this, what happens is that whatever might strike it, strikes it equally and can damage the frame.

There’s that aspect, then there’s the other aspect, the seductive aspect. The seductive aspect of what we do is we try to get your eye to flow in softly towards the interior of the piece, of the content of the piece. By making this stand out from here and making your space with it and this is called floating.

By having your painting float inside the frame, what we do is, we’re creating a situation where your eye gently flows towards the inside You see this dark brown with black frame?

You see the space, that has in the background an orange line. You see the black and then you see the painting. Which really doesn’t have any much black in it and if you have tape black here but green orange red.

So colour plays a big role. How do we control the colour? The stronger the colour is, the more control you have to exercise over it, to force the eye to stay inside. Because our natural thing is to avoid things that are loud. We try to shrink away from them and that’s the purpose of the frame. To focus the viewer’s eye on the content!


Atelier Daniel, as quality master framers in Montreal, has years of experience with preservation framing and design. We use a large variety of materials and creative methods. At Atelier Daniel we are dedicated to providing you beautiful custom design, high quality finishing and great service. John Daniel, president of Atelier Daniel in Montreal, Quebec has 40 years of experience as a quality picture framer. John Daniel has chosen and framed many thousands of works of art. John was one of the first commercial framers using museum quality framing in Montreal. He has given many courses on conservation and preservation framing. He has also given courses on framing design and the quality enhancement of each client’s work of art.


Dictated by John Daniel

Atelier Daniel

4625 Avenue Wilson, Montreal



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