The size of the artwork is one of the five basic things to consider that I spoke about in episode One.
Too small or too large can make the area feel awkward. Artwork should make you and your visitors feel comfortable. When you see the right size for the art piece on the wall you will know it. And for that reason, I highly recommend taking a photo of your wall. Using Photoshop or another image editing program, you can create a rectangle on your wall, in the photo, move it, resize it and discover the best size and exact location.
During this process, you will be considering whether the piece should be horizontal or vertical. A horizontal piece will work well over a bed or couch. You can usually tell by the area what is needed. Another option to consider is to hang several smaller pieces rather than one large piece.
To help determine the size of your rectangle in the photo, it helps to take the photo of your wall straight on including a sofa, bed or an area of known size that can be used as a size reference. You can then measure on your computer screen, with a ruler the known size and the rectangle to calculate its size.
If you are not technically equipped to take a photo and edit it, you can physically tape a large piece of paper to the wall. You can experiment with different sizes or add sheets of paper to see what size works the best. Some people use painter’s tape and mark four spots where the corners could go to show the size options and location.
For a piece over a couch or a bed, a rule of thumb is to make the artwork cover 80% of the width of the couch or bed. The minimum width would not be less than 66%. This is not a hard and fast rule, but a piece that is wider than the couch or bed looks wrong and dominates the space visually. Too small and it looks like you put up a piece that you had left over and hung it for the sake of hanging it. Start out at 80% and adjust from there.
As to how high to hang it, the general rule is that the piece should be hung 6-12 inches above the back of a couch.
Keeping a notebook is a good idea for taking and recording measurements and noting possible sizes to look for. The notebook will be of great value when you go shopping at a store, art festival, or look online.
As mentioned, one can also consider a grouping of pieces. Two or three vertical pieces side by side can take the place of one larger horizontal piece.
A wall area with many pieces is referred to as a gallery wall. In figuring out the arrangement for a gallery wall, one can lay out a number of pieces on the floor before hanging to determine the best possible layout. Usually, the larger pieces go on the bottom row to give a correct sense of balance.
The downside to a grouping of pieces is hanging them in alignment.
One time I printed vacation photos for a couple on 78 small canvases to be hung in perfect rows and columns. I hung them all myself. Perhaps in a future episode I can go over hanging techniques. Let me know if that would be of interest.
If buying unframed pieces, one should take into account whether or not they will be framed later and make note of the additional inches that the framing will add to the size.
One question that frequently comes up on positioning of artwork is: do you center the artwork relative to the wall or in relation to the furniture. Centering the artwork to the furniture usually works best. This frequently comes up when one room transitions to the next with no dividing wall or room divider.
One can think of room elements in terms of settings. A rug with a sofa and chairs would be an example of a setting. One would center the artwork relative to the setting rather than the wall. One might think that centering on the wall would be logical, but it doesn’t look right and goes counter to the design of the individual settings.
Many people will make the mistake of selecting artwork that is too small. They will see a beautiful 8×10” piece that they fall in love with. They bring it home, put it on the wall and realize that it they need something much larger to fill the space. A piece one holds in their hands will look a lot smaller on an open wall.
Have fun and start your journey in buying your artwork fearlessly and with certainty.
In closing, the size of the artwork is important. Take the time to figure out the optimum size by taking a photo of the wall and creating rectangles in a picture editing program on your computer to represent the possible sizes of the artwork. Alternatively, tape up large pieces of paper on the wall or use painter’s tape to show the four corners of a rectangle to see how different sizes look. A large piece over a couch or bed should be no more than 80% the width and greater than 66%. Two or three pieces can fill the place of a large piece. When planning the position of the artwork, center it relative to room settings or furniture rather than the total width of a wall. Keeping a notebook is a great place to record what you need for your artwork when shopping so that you know what you are looking for.
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The next time you visit the Tampa Bay area, visit “Menaul Fine Art” and “My Favorite Art Place” in Clearwater at 1750 N. Hercules Avenue.
Menaul Fine Art offers limited edition abstract surrealistic artwork for your home or business. If you are having trouble finding the right size and color for your wall, we have the unique ability to customize our designs to work perfectly with your décor. Visit us online at www.menaul-art.com.
My Favorite Art Place is the home of Canvas Zoo, Menaul Art Printing and Image Creations of Florida. We can print your photos or artwork on canvas or a variety of fine art papers. We are the experts at custom picture framing and can assist you in selecting the ideal matting and picture frames to enhance your photo or artwork. Visit us at www.myfavoriteartplace.com.