Once upon a time, you found the perfect piece of art, and chose the ideal frame. You put the two together, hung it on the wall, and loved how it looked.
But over time, the passion cooled.
You don't need an "art counselor" to take your relationship back to "love" from "like."
All you need is a mat.
Adding a mat elevates the look of your piece of art. It adds style and sophistication and takes your art from “meh” to “marvelous.”
Ready to fall head over heels for your art again?
Let’s explore mats
In the picture framing industry, a mat (or matte) is a thin, flat piece of paper-based material included within a picture frame.
Mats usually serve one of two purposes. They’re additional decoration to make your art pop, or they’re used to keep the artwork from touching the glass frame.
From a practical perspective, mats are essential because they protect the artwork.
Placing a mat between your artwork and the framing glass prevents any condensation that might develop on the inside of the glass from transferring to your art and causing water damage, mold, or mildew.
But practicality aside, mats are pretty. Matting artwork intensifies it by adding size, color, and depth.
How to choose a mat
From a classic point-of-view, most professionals believe the mat should be lighter than the art or picture but darker than the wall where it’s hung.
In these cases, most mats are neutral colors such as gray, white, and cream.
And, experts say the mat border should be 2 times the width of the frame.
If you want your wall gallery to have a museum-type feel, this is a great choice.
But what if you don’t? This is where the fun begins!
If your artwork is small, a mat gives tiny masterpieces the wall space they deserve. And here’s where the “2 times rule” about the width of the mat and the frame is forgotten.
Does your artwork have an attractive border? If it’s a painting on handmade paper, the edge is as impressive as the art.
In this case, you want a floating frame. Your art is mounted on an acid-free foam core lift, hidden behind the work, but attached to a supporting mat. A spacer ensures the surface of the work doesn’t touch the glass.
Floating frames are the way to go if your piece has a printed border, or if your piece is signed near the edge.
If you’re framing a photograph, a mat can make it pop, especially if your photo is black and white. A crisp white mat can elevate the appearance.
Now that we’ve explored appropriate mats for different types of art, let’s talk about specific types of mats.
A mat can have several openings. This is a great way to show off newspaper or magazine articles or to include several smaller photos in one frame.
Use colored mats to pick-up a particular shade in your artwork. But be aware that using a colored mat may limit where you can place the piece, as it might not look good in every room.
For this reason, some professionals don’t use colored mats but opt for a white or black mat.
Single mat, double mat
A single mat is just that. One mat, in one color, surrounding the artwork.
A double mat is 2 layered mats. Approximately one-quarter of an inch of the lower mat peeks out, creating a different color border around the art.
If you want to add a second color without a double-matting, some mats are colored on the surface, but have a white interior that is revealed with the mat is cut, which can add interest, too.
Custom mat, custom frame
A mat will add to the final dimensions of your finished piece. If your artwork 11x14”, once you add a mat, it could be around 17x20” or larger. Therefore, be aware you might need a custom-size frame to accommodate your matted artwork if it’s not a standard size.
To reignite your love for your art, play the field, so to speak. Experiment with different mat colors, sizes, and combinations. Let your imagination run wild.
You're sure to fall in love with your art again.