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Ugly Duckling Pictures

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One of our regular encounters is hanging a picture that’s an ugly duckling. These always surface when we hang for people who’ve moved house.

The pictures are finally unpacked. You’ve got us in and between us, we’ve placed them. As we put them up, we all keep looking at this one until finally, it’s the only one left. You really don’t know quite where you want it.

Yes, you love it and you have to keep it! It was the first picture you ever bought together. Or your beloved old auntie gave it to you.

Or it reminded you of where you grew up – and it looked good in your old home. You know the sort of picture we mean.

Emotion’s a powerful motivator and we’re talking here about the picture that means something.

So what’s to be done? Let’s face it – it looks awful no matter where we try it and you’re looking a bit despondent. All the other pictures have found a happy place, while this one is still waiting.

But can we convert this ugly duckling into a swan? What’s really wrong with it? Is it the style, the medium, the execution?

Or … is it the framing? In our experience, 9 times out of 10, old, ugly or bad framing is the real culprit.

A frame and a picture are separate. Seems obvious, but surprisingly, most clients forget this because they’re so used to seeing the picture as one unit. The problem child is actually ‘this picture’ - not necessarily the artwork.

Take away the frame, update it and hoorah, a lovely swan emerges.

Now we’re not saying take an old picture and stick a modern frame around it. Heaven forbid, that would be quite wrong. But often the framing was pretty ordinary when it was done. Like most things, there are fashions in framing too, and maybe it was a case of unfortunate choice. Or perhaps it was a budget job done by a struggling artist, or a young couple starting out in life with enthusiasm but not much cash.

Quite possibly, it’s a frame well past its use-by date. It’s actually falling apart, the glass is dirty inside and out, and the mats are all stained.

So we suggest a new set of clothes - a makeover if you like.

It may just need a clean new mat so the foxing and discolouration don’t detract anymore. (And while we’re at it – did you know that can actually cause damage to your artwork?) Maybe it was framed when strongly coloured mat boards were the go. Replacing a sea green or liver pink mat with a soft-toned neutral can give old artwork a real lift.

Maybe the frame is one of those thin ‘natural’ timber jobs or a skinny black-stained wood. Replacing it with a frame of a size that better reflects the weight and composition of the picture does wonders. We’ve also seen these same frames replaced by plain or slightly patterned gilts with soft-brushed silvers and old-gold tones washed down so they’re not at all glitzy, and really highlighting the artwork within.

We’ve been back to houses where the ugly duckling picture had a makeover, and it’s up in the spot we’d earmarked. And there’s only one word to describe the client’s reaction and that’s ‘thrilled’.

So find yourself a good picture framer. Or ask us – we know the work of several here on the Sunshine Coast. And we’re confident they do a good job so we’re happy to refer.


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Mike McClughan

Right Hook Picture Hanging

Based on the Sunshine Coast, we are picture hanging specialists. But we don't just hang pictures, we can hang almost anything on a wall... rugs, murals, artefacts, sporting memorabilia, mirrors etc. We can do anything from a collection of pictures, to heavy items, to large pieces, to an entire gallery collection. No picture hanging job is too small, or big, so just ask!

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