Most people who make a living selling things have to buy the item wholesale. Not you. You have art talent. Imagine spinning money out of air. Painting your own pictures, matting and framing them.

Those are really fine paintings. Gauguin-ish Kitsch.  Maybe not a grammar school child but a twenty year old could produce this highly commercial level of PRIMITIVE ART.  Imagine your entire family cranking out saleable product. All you'd really have to do to get them started would be to check out a library book of Fiji Tahiti or croatian beaches, not tropical but sumptuous and find a few great photos, get some NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC magazines with pictures of NATIVES to throw into your Tahitian landscape. Now, give the books to the kid and cover with a pane of glass so he doesn't spill on them!  Give the child his very own set of acrylic paints, brushes. To start, textured large size paper suitable for paints, Lots of rags, an easle maybe or a table and if it's an easle, then a little table for his paints and lock the cat out. Cats can really make a mess if they leap up on a table with paints.

Adults should paint on stretched canvases, so if it's you, and this is about making 400$ a painting, get some real canvas , duck will do in a pinch, there are all ranges of slubbiness in fabric. I happen to adore slubby. I've even used burlap bags that the mills send bolts of fabric out on. It's a finer woven burlap than potato sacks but once gessoed, those could be used. Buy a lot of stretcher bars, (4 per picture) a staple gun and a stretching wrench to pull or stretch your linen fabric over stretcher bars. Once it's stretched taut, then 'size' it with either gesso or rabbit glue. When it's dry and pulls tight, you're ready to paint.

Do it yourself frames is next:  Framing paintings can be very expensive. So, is a professional frame worth the money, or should you make your own frames for your paintings? Will galleries accept paintings with DIY frames? Will you appear to be a cheapskate?


ARTISTS TIPS: One man "had the tools to build frames and mats, (compound mitre saw and a router) so I gave it a shot. I was very pleased with the outcome. I used 1"x2" pine for materials . I painted the finished frame with satin black and it looked very good.” --Another man found the antique frame, cut the cardboard  (matboard) for the art piece to fit IN that frame.

Tools Needed to Mat and Frame a Picture
For this project you will need:

    * a picture
    * a frame
    * a heavy-duty piece of paper or mat board
    * a pencil
    * a straightedge
    * an Exacto knife or a mat cutter
    * tape

Make sure that the tape and mat you are using are acid-free, so they don't deteriorate your picture over time.

Prepare the Work Area
Because we are cutting the mat, you will need an appropriate surface to work on. Lay down a piece of cardboard if you do not want your work surface scratched.

When to Use Mat Board
Make sure that the frame you are using will be able to hold your mat. Mat board is relatively thick, and oftentimes frames will not hold it.

If you think this is going to be the case, you can still mat your picture. Just use some heavy-duty paper instead of actual mat board.

Cut the Mat to Fit the Frame
The first thing that you will want to do is cut your mat to fit the frame. You can measure the dimensions and then sketch them onto your mat board. Or, an easier way is to trace around an insert from the frame. Cut out the mat using the Exacto knife.

Measure an Opening for the Picture
Now you will need to measure an opening for the picture. In this case, I'm dealing with a 5 x 7 inch frame and a 4 x 6 inch photo. So, I will give the mat borders of about 1 inch. This means it will overlap the photo by about 1/2 inch on each side and look nicely proportioned within the frame.

Horizontally, your picture should be equidistant from both sides of the frame. But vertically, your picture should be a little closer to the top of the frame than to the bottom. If you cut the mat with a 3/4-inch border on the top and a 1 1/4-inch inch border on the bottom, it will actually look centered to the naked eye.

Cut an Opening for the Picture
Measure the opening for the picture and sketch it in pencil on the back of the mat. Now, you are ready to begin cutting.

Hold your straightedge firmly against the line that you drew, and press your mat cutter into it. Cut along the line in one swift motion, being careful to stop precisely in the corner.

Secure the Picture to the Mat
Tape the picture to the top edge of the mat only. By not attaching the bottom, the picture can lay flat in the frame and will not ripple. Lay down the picture with the top along the top of the frame. Get it nicely set there.

Then, take a piece of tape and lay it down vertically in this corner. Do the same thing on the other side. Now we will put pieces of tape horizontally, one against the mat on each side. That will hold the original piece of tape in place. We will do the same thing against the picture to hold that tape in place.

And now your picture should be nicely secured, but it will still hang free so it can lie smooth and flat at all times.

Place the Picture and Mat in the Frame
Now that your picture should be hanging beautifully inside the mat, it is ready to pop into the frame and display in your home.

“My husband makes my frames. He buys a nice piece of lumber (1x4 or 1x8, something like that) then rips off slender pieces which he miters at the corners so they all fit and adds them to my canvases. I think they look very nice, plain, unpainted with just a touch of varnish. When I have canvas board to frame, he does it different, putting in a gouge on one side so the board can lay in it. The nice thing is I can show him what width or kind of frame I want and he makes it for me.

My customers know that I'm a starving artist, not a rich artist, and I think the frames my DH makes me add to the charm of my pieces and they also make me feel that my husband and I are in this together.” -- Tema

Problems with DIY Frames
“I have a friend who frames and when I took the framed items into the gallery I know, they told me that she had done it all wrong. They looked okay to me, but apparently they were sealed on the back and shouldn't have been because the canvas can't breath and so on. -- Ruthie

Choosing a Style of Frame
“I believe that the most important thing is uniformity. You don't want a bunch of different frames because that will make you look like an beginner. … A gallery friend of mine … told me that an artist can become just as well known for their framing as much as for their work. -- Ruthie

You can order framing materials from CHINA. Google around matboard, frames + china.

COMMENTS: Sometimes, I prefer not to have a painting framed -- then, I make sure I have a really good wrap around canvas mount and paint around them. They always look good. -- Tema

“I get my frames from Salvation Army, without glass, they cost little. … I get canvas in a roll, so I can cut out the canvas to fit the frame, and the standard, I use my hard canvas.” -- Yvonne

“I don’t frame mine. I make my own stretchers mostly, so the edges are gallery-wrap, and I either continue the picture onto them or I paint them in a neutral colour.” -- Taffetta

“Depending on the size of a painting I will either use simple wood frames or attach wood strips on the sides. I don't go all out with framing, I figure the person who buys it will probably have a specific type of frame they prefer.” -- Brine

”I've seen a lot of paintings sold with just a butt-strip frame. This simple frame not only protects the painting, but can also enhance it if done neatly and without any attempt to make it more than just a simple frame. I'm talking about paintings from artists whose work is collected and which sells in the thousands.” -- Rghirardi

“I've heard others say that strip framing is fine and that the buyer will get their own frame but I think this gives the buyer too much credit and I think it depends on the style in which one paints. Many abstract paintings would look completely wrong in a decorative frame.” -- Painter 03

“What works for me is keeping several nice-looking, store-purchased frames and use them for my very favorite paintings for shows. This gets the people coming and asking questions and if they seem interested, I show them the other paintings in a nice presentation case on a table. It isn't the best way to show I'm aware, but it works for confined spaces and for what I do”. -- Anawanitia