When most people think of frames for photographs or art pieces, their mind conjures images of luxurious gold frames surrounding gorgeous pre-20th-century paintings. In their minds, all painting frames shine in the light and come adorned with flowers or other fancy embellishments.
Naturally, ornate frames like these remain quite popular among artists, art-lovers, and art gallery owners. However, they are far from the only option — which is great, because they are beyond the financial reach of many. You can find many kinds of picture frames out there that are great in their own ways. To highlight just one here is some information on how to make the most out of plein air frames.
What are Plein Air Frames?
Plein air frames come from Plein air painting, which refers to painting in the outdoors. This practice came into vogue during the 19th century, though humans have surely been painting outside since prehistory. The Impressionists of France, in particular, helped popularize the practice with their innovative depictions of the natural world.
As part of their rejection of stale artistic traditions, the Impressionists would not typically use ornate frames. Instead, they would encase their work in unembellished frames with wider molding. They are simpler, which draws more attention to the art, yet still stylish, which means the frame still looks good. Due to their association with the practice, they are known as Plein air frames.
What Kind of Art Looks Best in These Frames?
When considering what artwork or photos are best suited for Plein air frames, consider the frames’ history. Due to the transient nature of, well, nature, the first Plein air enthusiasts often worked on smaller canvases. These could range in size from the relatively small 6x8” to the more standard 11x14”.
Plein air frames mostly follow the same dimensional standards, so they work better with images that are smaller in size and scale. That may be why they are commonly sold for the purpose of displaying family photos. Larger, detailed images may get lost if they shrink to fit the limits.
Plus, keep in mind that Plein air frames look great, but they are not ornate. Anything “grand” might look strange within these comparatively plain frames. Of course, they are also more cost-effective than fancier framing, so feel free to use them anyway if they are your best financial option.
More Tips for Framing
Most of the time, you will find Plein air frames in a golden color (though not necessarily made with actual gold). However, these are far from your only options. Some are a more contemporary black, which lets colorful images stand out more. Others may be in shiny silver, while others still are a tasteful wooden brown. You can even find examples that mix these elements, producing unique effects.
Finally, the Plein air frame may be less flashy than more ornate frames. However, no type of frame should distract viewers from what it contains. Ideally, they would contribute to the effect of the artwork or photograph. The simpler nature of this type of frame helps with the former. As for the latter, you just need the keen eye of an artist.
Plein air frames have been part of the art world for a century-and-a-half. If you want something simple yet gorgeous, or something relatively small in size yet big in effect, then this type of frame is for you.