To add interest to your artwork, why not work it in with other accessories or combine artwork in groupings and if you read on I’ll tell you how to do it!
Yes, the artwork itself is artistic, but the way you display it doesn’t have to be run of the mill. There are so many options in hanging art. For instance, if you have several pieces that go well together, you could create a collage. And, there are so many different ways to create a collage! If your artwork is small or an awkward dimension, you may want to find a unique place to hang it. Or, if your art is very formal and dramatic, a piece like that stands alone and should be highlighted by lighting or perhaps framed out by two lamps if hung above a cabinet. So let’s take it slow and I’ll try to show you as many options as I can.
Before reading about creating artistic arrangements, you may want to read, “The Basics of Hanging Art” just so you are proficient at getting a piece placed on the wall right where you want it. Once you learn the basics of hanging artwork, you’ll quickly advance to the “pro” level and will be able to create all kinds of unique wall displays!
A Collage of Art Pieces
Well, “pro” are you ready to tackle a collage? (Pros will understand what this means, but novices may want to make a note that a collage is a group of related items hung together on a wall to create a more dynamic statement than if each piece was hung alone.)
A Common Element:
First, pull together items that have something in common. All-gold frames with black and white images would tie unlike subject matter together. Then, add a couple items with some dimension like a gold wall sconce with a candle on it, or a gold framed mirror. Don’t overdo the variety so that the common thread of the grouping is lost.
Make a conscious effort to bring together subjects that tell a story. For instance, floral prints combined with dragonfly and ladybug artwork make sense because of the subject matter. The frames can be different, yet they’ll all still get along together on the wall.
Another great collage unifier is color. If all the prints in a collage grouping are watercolors or pen and ink, they will make a cohesive display when hung as a group.
Framed photographs make a great basis for interesting wall collages. When creating a grouping with photos, it is important that each piece be a part of the whole. There are several ways to achieve a unified look. One way to maintain collage consistency with photographs is to group the photos by color. Black and white photos can create a modern gallery look. Sepia tones work well with traditional and country decor. Full-color photos are best displayed in a casual setting. Photos can also be grouped by theme—vacations, family members or special occasions, for example.
Arrangement is Key:
Once the items have been collected, start arranging them in a space equal to the space available on the wall, but working on the floor. It’s very easy to move things around and get a feel for the overall effect when you can work in an open area on the floor. Don’t feel that you have to use all the items you’ve collected. If something doesn’t fit in, save it for another wall in the room. Keep in mind that collages do not need to be symmetrical. In other words, your display doesn’t have to be rectangular. Try an oval, where the middle has more pieces in it and the ends are lower. This is one of my favorite collage shapes. I have done a triangle before and really liked the effect. Also note that if your collage is 10 items or less, it’s best to use an odd number of pieces. Anything above 10 and I doubt if anyone could tell the difference!
The Big Transfer:
Now, how does the collage get from floor to wall? Just grab a couple of brown paper grocery bags, a pencil and a pair of scissors and you’ll get this project licked. First, cut open the grocery bags, and set each piece from the collage onto the paper, trace around it, and cut it out. In the end, you’ll have a duplicate of the “footprint” of your collage that you can tape up on the wall. Make sure to use painter’s blue tape to prevent damaging the wall surface! What’s nice about this is that you can move things around easily now, without having to move nails over a smidge to get it right.
Hang it Up:
Once everything is taped up, and has been tweaked to meet your approval, locate the hanging apparatus on the pieces of art, and transfer their location to the coordinating taped-up paper. You can actually nail the hooks right in over the paper if you wish, because it will rip away fairly easily.
We’ve talked a lot about hanging many items at once. However, most of the time when we are hanging artwork, we are looking at groupings of 4 or less and even more often than that, a single piece at a time. Let’s take a look at hanging just a couple pieces together or new ways to add interest to just one piece.
Grouping Two, Three, or Four
This grouping of four is interesting because it isn’t hung in a square as is most common with groupings of four. The two in the second row indicate the “center” of the arrangement, but the two on the top and bottom are skewed evenly, one in each direction. The subject matter of the art is so bold and easily understood that the arrangement can be unusual and draws attention to it without distracting from the floral arrangements.
Here, a grouping of three stacks nicely in a small wall space. The vining berries around the door jam add interest, picking up the red in the roosters.
I’ve done this quite often to give interest to areas that ordinarily might be overlooked. This is a small wall between a door jam and a doorway. Now that 12” space has some interest!
Using a wall mounted plate display rack really makes these insect prints stand out. Against this wall that is in similar tones to the prints, they would probably disappear.
Lots of things can be added to an arrangement to give it a distinctive look. In the past Matt and I have used everything from paint to decorative wooden pieces to actual wood wall trim to help make an arrangement of art stand out. Take a look at some of these examples. Perhaps they’ll inspire you to add something new and different to your walls of art!
This is simply the use of a pretty bow stencil on the wall above the four framed paper doll outfit pages. Because the frames were white, we thought that topping them off with a bow and some ribbon would make them look even more unique than they already did. (And yes, the photo is crooked….no comment.)
This grouping of four gets its extra interest from decorative wooden embellishments used on cabinetry. Here it helps compliment the frames and fills in the awkward center space.
Trim it up:
Try using decorative wooden trim to make two horizontal lines on your wall. This encloses an area to line up similar co-coordinating pieces of art. We painted the wall inside the trim white and above and below the trim in a medium grey. Black and White photographs looked outstanding in this configuration.
This photo demonstrates another use of paint with art. This was a fairly large wall with a higher ceiling. Unfortunately, the only artwork these folks had for this room was a bit too small for the space. So, Matt and I painted a block of color that was more in proportion to the framed pieces and voila, another successful arrangement.
Matt did make the wall mounted shelf as well and the additional pieces do make the arrangement even more interesting.
Shelving is also a great way to display artwork. It doesn’t have to be hung on the wall with a nail. Here, these two pieces are leaning against the wall and few items were added to bring some dimension to the display.
Ribbons and Bows:
We’ve seen bows painted on using stencils, but a good art store will also carry fabric bows that will very nicely tie two pieces of artwork together and dress them up at the same time. Generally, they come in several lengths. This one is perfect for two pieces, but could also work on a single piece of art that is larger in size.
I haven’t tried to whip up one of these on the sewing machine yet, but I may take one of mine apart to see how it is done and we could then make as many of them as we like and at any length that is right for our own purposes. Sound good?
There are times too when two pieces of art can look just fine without embellishing them. Here, two different sized bird prints look more interesting just because they aren’t lined up side by side. I will say though that if the wall was in a nice golden hue to pick up the color in the birds, this would be much more striking. (I better get busy; this is in my laundry room!)
Adding Pizzazz to Single Pieces
I’ve just spent a few minutes thinking about how I hang single pieces of art and I discovered something about myself. I don’t ever…and I think I can say that now that I’ve given it some thought…hang a single piece of artwork without blending it with a furniture piece, a lamp or two, a painted block around it, etc. I guess I believe that artwork needs to belong when it is hung in a home. If it stands alone, it becomes more a gallery feeling instead of a family feeling. If you don’t agree, I accept that. We all need to do what works best for us. So, here are my suggestions but by all means, make the artwork in your home do for you what you wish, blend it, or let it stand alone. In either case, the point is to simply enjoy it!
This piece leans comfortably against the alcoves cut into the wall above this fireplace. Against the white walls, the color really shows up. However, when it is surrounded by the large topiaries, it makes it an even stronger focal point.
This homeowner was interested in a change from her stark white walls but didn’t want to go crazy. By creating colorful boxes around her already bright art we were able to extend the art’s impact without overpowering the space.
I mentioned surrounding art with lamps or making it a part of a furniture arrangement and this is what I meant. The piece is comfortable nestled in with the lamps, flowers and small accessories and makes you want to approach it to get a closer look. On it’s own it would be stark and uninviting.
Although you might say this piece of art is hanging alone, I would say it is part of the bench, pillows and basket grouping. It is hung at just the right height to be a part of the entire arrangement and it looks fantastic. The colors are nice with the brick and all of the colors of the pillows, the bench and the baskets can be found in the art. Notice how a floral plant at the end of the bench softens all the squared off shapes!
Hey, I did hang one alone, though in this dark hallway it required a bit of lighting. You can just see the cord heading down the wall to the outlet. So, as you can imagine, there is a hall table with accessories and the cord is well hidden behind everything below the bottom edge of the photograph! This type of picture light can be found at a lighting store and attaches to the back of your artwork right into the frame.
In this guest bath, the strong red walls call for drama. The artwork is an elegant piece with lovely colors that are picked up with the red wall but the “bath” sign brings us back to reality. Not to mention, with the picture hung at standing eye level, it was a bit high for those being seated, hahaha! The “bath” sign extends the grouping just low enough to work for everyone!
Ah look at that, the bow showed up again, this time with a single piece of art. The color is perfect, drawing out the soft blue sky and letting the buildings become the star.
Smaller pieces like this simple photograph of a window afford more flexibility. It’s difficult to tell from the photograph, but this little print is hanging just above a chair rail. This makes sense in this room because it is right next to a bed.
Another nice way to display small prints is to use table easels. These can be located on small tables, on shelving, nightstands, even kitchen and bathroom counters. Smaller pieces are some of my favorites because they do fit into unlikely spots. Who doesn’t want to enjoy art while their brushing their teeth?
Whew, that was a whirlwind tour of ideas for artistically displaying your artwork. Now I don’t want to see anymore tiny pieces hanging above a sofa, or large pieces hanging alone. No more bare wall spaces or bare shelves – promise? If you don’t have the artwork to fill the spaces, consider making some of your own. There are a couple ideas in our craft section to get you started!