Sunday, March 30, 2014

Framing a Painting

I just went back through old posts and it seems that there has been no mention of any of the key elements of this post: a frame, a painting and a hammer.  Shame, it would have been so much easier to point back and say, "remember this and remember that? Well guess what?!"

But let me start at the beginning.  Around three and a half years ago, shortly after I first discovered Build It Green NYC, back when they only had the Astoria, Queens location, I was out there picking through stuff with nothing special on my shopping list when I found a cache of very nice picture frame material.  There were a few dozen pieces in lengths ranging from three feet to seven feet long, no two the same.  Mostly, it was moderately ornate, gilded (or silvered) frame stock with deep, undulating profiles, mostly made in Italy.  It seemed to be the leftovers/remainders from jobs done at some higher-end frame shop.  The price was a song so, certain I would find a use for it, I took it all.  And then I did nothing with it.

This past May, wandering through our favorite flea market in the whole world, Marche Paul Bert at the Marche au Puces Clignancourt in Paris, I found a painting I liked - a small oil on wood panel of a lion in a landscape from the mid-1800s.  The seller described it as a "salon painting" - unsigned, unknown artist, unimportant - but lovely in its way.  The painting itself was just about 8" x 6" but it was in a huge, impossibly ornate, gilded rococo frame.  The frame was at least 4" wide, maybe more, and... well, it was basically crazy-busy gilded gesso sculpture.  In any event, I wanted the painting but I didn't want the frame - and not just because it would have been a huge pain to carry it back on an airplane.  Long story short, after some negotiation, I bought the painting and left the frame -- the seller probably thought I was crazy to want this unimportant little painting and not the spectacular frame that made it seem like it might matter.  The painting has been tucked away in a drawer ever since.

Then, earlier this year, probably around the first of January when I was thinking about New Years Resolution type stuff, I realized that one thing I'd like to be better about is not postponing enjoyment of the things I already own while focusing on the things I want and don't yet have and how to get them.  A prime example: a piece of unframed artwork in a drawer.

So I began shopping for just the right frame for my salon lion.

After stopping in to a couple local frame shops I remembered all that frame stock in my basement and I went down and picked out a couple pieces that seemed right.

One of our local frame shops is so backed up that they will only work on frames you buy from them.  The other good local shop (Brooklyn Frameworks) was happy to take my old stock and put a frame together for me (although I did end up adding a linen liner - which is basically another picture frame inside the first picture frame).

I picked up the picture frame today and mounted the painting the minute I brought it in the door and then hung it right away.  I am thrilled - not just with the framed painting, but with the progress I've made in just enjoying what I have.

So, without further ado, here it is:

I hung it just above my dresser - if I had a dressing room, I would have hung it there.  It feels like a personal painting and over my dresser feels like a personal spot.

Why personal?  The painting makes me think of my father, which is odd since he passed away a few months after I bought it, without ever seeing it.  It makes me think of him because I knew when I bought it that I wanted to show it to him.  I thought he might like it, the folly of it, an odd lion in a landscape at sunset rendered with big gloppy strokes.  I thought something about it would make him smile.  Mostly, I knew he would really look at it and think about it and then, almost certainly, say something appreciative about it as he did about almost all the art I have bought and hung.  I wanted his good opinion and perspective on it.  I didn't get that, but I still think of him when I look at it because one of my plans for this painting was to show it to him and talk to him about it.  I imagine what the conversation would have been like and it makes me feel closer to him.

Oh, right, the hammer!  I bought two nice old cobbler's hammers at a flea market last fall.  Then I put them in a box and never did anything with them.  This evening I used the skinny one to nail the little hooks into the wall to hang my painting.  It was kind of thrilling.

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