Friday, April 28, 2017

Capturing the Intangible


As a child growing up in Oregon, Terry Abrams was inspired by the beauty just outside his window – or at least what he thought was there.

He remembers gazing from his bedroom at Mount Hood and marveling at the way his window framed the volcanic peaks. But years later, his sister shut that memory down, insisting Mount Hood wasn’t actually visible from their childhood home.

“I’m not sure if we really could see Mount Hood from my window,” he said. “But it’s something I always imagined as a little kid and it really drove my life in some odd way.”

Incorrect or not, the memory pushed Abrams to a career photographing landscapes and teaching others about photography. He currently teaches at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, Mich., where he is also Department Chair of the School of Visual Arts.

His love of photography grew when he and his childhood friends started developing their own pictures in a makeshift darkroom. But, Terry said, he never imagined it as a career until his family moved to Arizona and he started taking photography classes at a local community college.

“A picture can say things words can’t describe,” he said. “It’s like another language.”

After transferring to the Maryland Institute College of Art and Design, he began teaching photography as a volunteer in an inner-city Baltimore school.

“I liked this idea of showing people whatever I knew that would be interesting and turning them on to it,” he said. “I loved to teach, I discovered that.”

After college, he joined a group of teachers traveling to Europe, where he taught photography to soldiers as part of a local college’s overseas education program and ended up staying for 13 years.

He said teaching lets him set his own schedule and have time to pursue his passion of photography and conduct various workshops, like the two he’ll host in Ecuador and Maine this spring and summer. He also loves bringing out creativity in his students and watching them blossom.

“I believe everyone has a creative part of their personality that is looking for release,” he said.

Terry expresses his own creativity by training his lens on colorful canyons, lush green forests and ornate Turkish architecture. But, he says, he’s most inspired by deserts and sand dunes. He travels to California’s Death Valley multiple times a year to photograph the barren landscape.

“Some people would describe it as desolate,” he said. “But to me, that’s beautiful. My true place on the planet is there, because the landscape is so huge, and it’s so harsh and it’s driven by forces other than humans. I realize how insignificant I really am, and how little my ego has to do with anything else. How I’m just a little speck of dust on the planet. I love having that reminder and just being in awe of the natural forces of our planet.”

He said he is drawn to photographing landscapes because it allows him to capture what he calls “the intangible.”

“I try to photograph the spirit… the soul of something,” he said. “We all know what everything looks like, but to photograph what it feels like….to me, that’s what I try to do and that’s what I try to teach my students to accomplish.”

He said he also teaches his students that a career in the arts may not make them rich, but will reward them in other ways.

“If it’s not your passion, you might as well have a different job,” he said.  “Because this job is not going to reward you financially. But if it’s what motivates you to do what you do every day, maybe the other things aren’t so important.”

As for Terry, expect him to keep expressing his passion by aiming his lens at whatever inspires him, whether outside his window or halfway around the world. 

Learn more about Terry Abrams and see his art at TerryAbrams.com. http://www.terryabrams.com/About.html

Listen to Terry Abrams on the American Frame Podcast here. https://soundcloud.com/americanframe/podcast-1-20-17-terryabrams-4

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Think Outside the Box: Reusing Our Packaging


Happy Earth Day! Today, we celebrate our planet and pledge to do our part to take care of it. One easy way to do that is recycling. And when it comes to our frame packaging, there are plenty of ways to give new life to what might otherwise end up in the trash.

Here are some easy ways to reuse our packaging:

Carry art: Our flat wood frame boxes are perfect for safely carrying artwork to and from art shows.

Store old frames: If you’re reframing art http://blog.americanframe.com/2017/04/out-with-old-reframing-your-artwork.html#.WPZGn-kgqmQ, you may want to keep an original frame to preserve the value of a piece. Our wood frame boxes keep can keep it safe, clean, and out of the way while your new frame dazzles your guests.

Organize prints: Have photographs or paintings that aren’t ready to be framed? Stick them in an old frame box to keep your space clutter-free.

Store wrapping paper: Our metal frame boxes are perfect for keeping wrapping paper organized and tucked away until you need it.


Make signs: Garage sale season is almost here. The next time you’re turning your driveway into a thrift store, disassemble your wood frame box and use the cardboard to make a sturdy sign directing shoppers to your sale.

Get crafty: The cardboard, Styrofoam, and other packing materials we use are pure gold to crafters. And getting creative is a great way to keep kids entertained on a rainy day. Get out some glue, scissors, markers, and tape, and let the kids turn your unwanted packing materials into anything they can imagine.
Excited to see what you can do with our boxes? So are we! Share a picture of your creation on our Facebook page, or tweet us @AmericanFrame with the hashtag #BoxRefreshtive is a great way to keep kids entertained on a rainy day. Get out some glue, scissors, markers, and tape, and let the kids turn your unwanted packing materials into anything they can imagine.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Out with the Old: Reframing Your Artwork


 
 You love the painting. But the frame it’s in? Not so much. Maybe it’s broken. Maybe it doesn’t match your décor. Or maybe it’s just…visually unfortunate, to put it kindly. No matter what the problem is, reframing can fix it.

Mike Cromly, our Manager of Specialty Projects and resident framing expert, says people reframe photos and paintings for lots of reasons. Mats can fade, glass can get damaged, artwork can become unglued and slip. Some frames even become home to bugs over the years and a new frame is the easiest way to evict them.

If you’re reframing an older piece of art, take extra care not to damage any part of the painting, frame, and backing, and keep the original frame. Art can sometimes decrease in value if the original frame is not included when it’s resold.

Now, we’re ready to get started! Follow these simple steps to reframe your art.

Have the necessary materials with you. We recommend a screwdriver, hammer, wire snips, and a mat, but you may also find our Essentials Picture Framing Tool Kit  http://www.americanframe.com/departments/picture-framing-accessories/picture-framing-tools/essentials-picture-framing-tool-kit.aspx helpful.

 


If your photo has a wooden frame, first remove the hanging wire from the back of the frame.

Then, remove any dust covers and fasteners holding the materials in place. These could be nails, clips, framer’s points, and other materials.

Turn the frame over and lift it off the artwork and matting.

Lift a corner of the matting to see if it’s attached in some way to the artwork and pull the mat(s) from the backing.

Once the mat is off, just follow the steps above in reverse to put it into your new frame. Easy!

For metal frames, start by carefully removing the spring clips. They can sometimes fly out, so you may want to wear eye protection.

Loosen the screws on the two corner angles at one end of the frame and remove the end of the frame. Pull out the art.

 

Proceed with removing the matting and reframing the photo as described in the wood frame instructions.

 

There you have it! Your artwork is now in a frame worthy of its beauty.





 
You’ll find more information in our Framing FAQs.   http://www.americanframe.com/faqframing.aspx
Have more questions? Contact us http://www.americanframe.com/contactus.aspx, or stop in.
 
 
 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Be Still, My Beating Heart! After 44 Years, the Art World Is ‘Head Over Heels’ Over You!


February is the month in which we celebrate the love we experience all year long. Some loves are fleeting while others prove eternal, such as the devotion we and our customers feel for our Standard metal profile frame Nielsen 11.

This frame has unquestionably stood the test of time since its invention in the early 70s. Standard has rocked the art world with a slim, minimalist, squared profile that offers so many advantages to artists and the work it can hold. Never one to steal the show, Standard enhances art without overpowering, and sturdiness in materials and structure make it the ultimate framing workhorse.

Easy on the eyes as well as budget, the “Gallery Framing” aesthetic begins with Standard. Consider it the “little black dress” of an artist’s frame wardrobe. Appropriate for any occasion, setting, and any work on paper — watercolor paintings, drawings, posters, silk-screens, and photographs — it’s a DIY framer’s dream that doesn’t require any special tools to use. Have a screwdriver? Voila! I’ve always bragged that I can frame a picture in less than 10 minutes with nails — fingernails, that is!


The best way to use this frame is with a single minimalist mat board to which the artwork is attached or hinged. The mat creates visual space between the art and the edge of the frame as well as a space between the art and the acrylic, which is important for air circulation within the frame treatment. For valuable works, always choose acid-free materials.

A standard shape need not always be in a standard color. The color savvy among us have plenty of choices to satisfy our love of experimentation! Design with various hues and textures to highlight certain elements of your artwork to evoke moods or feelings from viewers. And for those who want a softer alternative to its linear shape, our Radius profile Nielsen 58 is your friend.

Wise collectors and seasoned artists alike are smart to invest in the best materials available, and for that, I’m honored that you choose American Frame. Understand, however, the investment is better made in the art itself — the framing simply serves as the architecture for the art, elevating it for a fine presentation, allowing you to show and protect it so its public can appreciate it. In that, Standard and Radius are proven.

So, whether you’re a long-time devotee to these choices or a “newbie” giving them a try, take advantage of our special offer this month as we celebrate our devotion to best-selling collections, on sale through Feb. 28, 2017. And when you’ve finished framing your latest loves, don’t be shy: Please share them with us on social media using #FramingHappiness so we can admire right along with you!

Yes, we’re still head over heels. We’ve stood the test of time.

Love,
Laura

Need a frame for your art? At American Frame, we love to help you frame it right! Visit our website where you can check out our Framing FAQ page or contact us for personalized assistance. Share a photo of your latest masterpiece on social media with the hashtag #FramingHappiness!


Laura Jajko
Laura Jajko is President of American Frame and a longtime contributor to "A Good Frame of Mind." Here, she delights in bonding with others over her love of art and framing. With more than 40 years of practical experience, she brings a unique perspective in a straightforward style that she hopes will spark lots of interesting and relevant dialogue in our online community. Connect with Laura directly here on the blog or follow her on Twitter @LauraJajko.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Artists Share Their Stories and Art

Artwork by Kelly Brown

Ever wonder what it would be like to make a living as a professional artist? From humble beginnings to constant development and improvement, Mixed-Media Artist Kelly Brown and Photographer and Painter Vineta Cook share their experiences as artists, providing insights into how they got started, what they did to develop their crafts, and their secrets for pushing through creative lulls. They have some great advice for those interested in developing their artistic talents.

How did you get started as an artist?


Kelly Brown: I’ve been interested in art and drawing ever since I was very little. There was a time while I was growing up that my mother worked from home. To keep me busy, she gave me paper and crayons and asked me to draw pictures for her. That was all I needed to stay occupied for hours! I would just draw and draw. I loved to draw people and scenes with a lot of activity. I was always drawing, always doodling, always creating characters and illustrating stories. This led me to the decision to go to art school at the Columbus College of Art and Design and pursue a fine art degree.

Vineta Cook: My father would draw cartoons when I was little and I loved it. I think I first realized in fifth grade that I love art and wanted to do it for the rest of my life. I kept painting and taking extra art classes all through school. At 15 years old, I won a silver medal from the European Union in Lithuania for my painting, and it boosted my confidence to study art. I got a B.A. in arts and technology and later pursued art full time.

Artwork by Kelly Brown

How have you specifically developed your craft?


Kelly: As a beginner, I started out just drawing things from my imagination, and then I tried to copy other drawings. By going to art school, I was trained to draw more from life. I was exposed to many different facets of art making such as structural drawing, sculpture, oil painting, and even advertising design. It was very hard at times, but this solid foundation helped me learn color and design basics, which helped me learn to express my ideas in a variety of mixed media. After graduating art school, I focused on faux finish and mural work for 12 years. This resulted in my appreciation for layering and for different art techniques on large walls in residential and commercial spaces. Now that I am less inclined to work 20 feet up on a ladder, I am using all of that information on a smaller scale. Literally, I have started making fun miniatures such as pies and other mini “fake foods”. I also enjoy sketching from life whenever I travel. I enjoy using my own metaphoric language to tell stories on a variety of surfaces such as paper, canvas, and wood panel with a wide variety of mixed media.

Vineta: I practiced a lot. The more you work, the better your work comes out. I tried different techniques and I saw what I liked and what I didn’t like. If you don't try, you will never know. There is no wasted time with art. It's constant learning.

Artwork by Kelly Brown

What advice do you have for beginners or people who want to focus anew on their crafts?


Kelly: I would suggest taking as many classes as you can. Go out and buy some fresh art supplies. Get a notebook specifically to record your artistic ideas and thoughts. Keep a list of favorite words or favorite combinations. See something interesting? Write about it. Eventually, you will have a resource book for your various ideas and thoughts, which you can distill down into an artwork. Visit art museums. Go to local art gallery exhibits. Go to local art fairs and have conversations with the artists. Look for art on Pinterest that you like and create a board filled with art that delights and inspires you. Then, try to emulate what those paintings are doing with your own work. In the beginning, it will feel like you are copying, but eventually, you will find your own voice, your own techniques, and create art that makes your soul happy.

Vineta: Work hard. Show up at the studio even if you don't want it. You need to develop the healthy habit of working. Make art — lots of it — and keep working at it. Don't let other people negativity effect you. Surround yourself with positive people. Persistence is number one. As artists, we are very sensitive people. If someone rejects your exhibition proposal, you don’t win a contest, there is no answer on an email, and so on, you still don't need to quit. Quitters are the only ones who don’t make it.

Artwork by Vineta Cook

When you hit a creative lull, how do you reignite your artistic passion?


Kelly: I’m thankful that that doesn’t happen very much to me! I agree with the quote by Pablo Picasso: “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” If someone is in a creative lull, I think they should immediately start “pushing some paint” around. Don’t stare at a blank canvas and let it intimidate you. I think it’s important to just get working and don’t overthink it. If you’re stuck, start making some abstract shapes and patterns and let the creativity and ideas spark along with that momentum.

Vineta: I change mediums. If I have a block in painting I take a break and I do photography. If I have the block in photography and painting, I do a drawing. This way I never stop creating.

Artists never have the same story, but they all have moments of inspiration and struggle. Hopefully you can find some inspiration in Kelly and Vineta’s stories as you follow your muse.

Artwork by Vineta Cook
Check out more of Kelly’s work and Vineta’s art.

Need a frame for your art? At American Frame, we love to help you frame it right! Visit our website where you can check out our Framing FAQ page or contact us for personalized assistance. Share a photo of your latest masterpiece on social media with the hashtag #FramingHappiness!


Laura Jajko
Laura Jajko is President of American Frame and a longtime contributor to "A Good Frame of Mind." Here, she delights in bonding with others over her love of art and framing. With more than 40 years of practical experience, she brings a unique perspective in a straightforward style that she hopes will spark lots of interesting and relevant dialogue in our online community. Connect with Laura directly here on the blog or follow her on Twitter @LauraJajko.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Get Creative with Personalized Framed Gifts

It’s almost that time of year again: The time when we get to show our love and affection for friends and family with thoughtful gifts. If you’re looking for alternatives to the tired gift cards you usually pass from person to person around the holidays, your friends here at American Frame have good news.

The perfect gift is one that’s unique, lasting, and meaningful. Homemade gifts are great options, but they often end up being too time-consuming to squeeze into the already-packed holiday season.

Never fear — the professionals at American Frame are here to make creating personalized, heartfelt gifts quick and easy. Here are a few ideas for how to capture your memories with loved ones and turn them into keepsakes they’ll treasure forever:

  1. A framed memento is a fun and unique alternative to a framed photo. Try framing a particularly meaningful poem or maybe an old family recipe to bring warmth to a kitchen. Adding a framed wedding or baby shower invitation can be a creative addition to the photos from the event itself that someone may already have framed, or it can stand alone as a hallmark of a wonderful memory.


  2. Frame a jersey for the sports fan or athlete in your life! This is the perfect decoration for the den or basement where everybody gathers to watch big games. Our Jersey Display Case makes it quick and easy — and it’s 30% off for a limited time! Plus, it’ll keep a collectable jersey safe from wear and tear.
  3. Put a special record in a frame to give a musical gift in a creative way. Maybe a couple you know would like a framed copy of the record that includes their “first dance” song. Or, for the music collector in your life, a beautifully, safely stored record or CD in mint condition is a lovely decoration.
  4. Create a shadowbox to showcase three-dimensional items for a unique keepsake. We’ve already walked you through framing guitar picks, but this method works for all kinds of objects. Get creative and you’ll end up with an art piece that nobody could buy in a store.

  5. Elevate your Instagram photos with specially designed frames. Those memories don’t just have to stay online where they’ll eventually get buried by newer ones. These real-life snapshots can feel fresh and personal in a way that professional portraits don’t.

  6. Create a collage to showcase a complete memory from all angles! Our collage frames make it easy to bring different photos together without sacrificing quality or style. A collage can showcase many photos from the same event or day, or it can show the passage of time with a collection of photos spanning years.

  7. Use a tabletop frame to showcase an extra special image or as a gift for someone with limited wall space. Tabletop frames can stand up on their own because of their depth and are available in so many sizes and colors, you’re bound to find the perfect frame! If you need an idea to get started, take a look at the brand-new Metallics collection for on-trend wood tabletop frames!

  8. Children’s art makes a fun and whimsical decoration when highlighted with a nice frame! Our colorful metal frames bring playful crayon art to life and make lovely gifts for parents, grandparents, aunt and uncles, and teachers.

Make sure your gift is as special as the person you’re giving it to. Our DIY framing kits make personalized keepsakes easy. All you provide are the memories!

If you create something inspired by these ideas, we’d love to see it! Share the result with us on social media using the hashtag #FramingHappiness

Need help finding the perfect frame for your gift? American Frame is the go-to source for learning how to custom frame photography, art, canvases, and memorabilia. Contact us for guidance on the best way to frame your gifts this year.


Laura Jajko
Laura Jajko is President of American Frame and a longtime contributor to "A Good Frame of Mind." Here, she delights in bonding with others over her love of art and framing. With more than 40 years of practical experience, she brings a unique perspective in a straightforward style that she hopes will spark lots of interesting and relevant dialogue in our online community. Connect with Laura directly here on the blog or follow her on Twitter @LauraJajko.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thanksgiving Is the Best American Holiday — Even When It’s Unpredictable

To me, this is the greatest American holiday: I absolutely love Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving with our friends, the McCurrens
It’s the one day that binds our heritage with a focus on gratitude; a ritual opportunity to pause as a nation and celebrate our love for one another and how lucky we are to live in this great country.

Typically, Thanksgiving in our household is somewhat unpredictable. I never really know — until the very last minute — who might be joining us or how many friends (and pets) they’ll bring. I rarely know if I’ll have enough space to seat whomever will decide to show up, whether it’ll be a low-key event, or if the party might continue into the next morning.

The McCurren boys and their “pre-feast pass-out”
What I do know is that my family and I are fortunate to always have more than enough food and drink to entertain for that day … and at least a few thereafter. Believe me, having come from a clan that started with nothing but an idea and a strong work ethic, I always appreciate the simple pleasures of plentiful food, good wine, and a safe, comfortable, and beautiful home.

Little Fiona bossing our dog Louie
Michaela brought me flowers!
My dad often remarks that “Only in America can a poor boy from the north end of Toledo take a risk, work hard, and build a self-sustaining successful business.” How lucky we are! And who would’ve guessed?

This year should be especially unpredictable. My husband — the one who cooks on Thanksgiving from start to finish — literally just had his hip replaced two days ago! In his case, it’s the price of lifelong running and high school contact sports. Perhaps you’ve experienced the same? While surgery is never fun, we’re grateful it’s only a hip as opposed to disease and he should be up and about within less than a week.

The men and the customary turkey carving
Then our daughter Dana and her new husband Josh are expecting their first child around the same time. What if it happens that day? Fine by me! Some may be stressed, but I’ll happily call a “babysitter” for my husband, escape dinner, and spend the evening in the hospital to greet the new baby!

Why am I writing this and who cares?

Here is my point: It doesn’t matter. It’s Thanksgiving! No one is expecting a gift. Nobody will feel slighted if I can’t uphold our traditions. We’re lucky. And if you’re reading this, my guess is you’re lucky too. No matter what you’ve faced this year — the good, the challenging, the life-changing, the tragic, and even the innocuous — on this day, it’s gratitude that binds us. It’s part of our national identity and makes me proud to be an American.

My family all together is what matters most to me!
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, from my family to yours,

What are your favorite Thanksgiving traditions? Share a photo of your holiday custom — or a non-traditional celebration you’ve enjoyed — with us on social media using the hashtag #FramingHappiness!


Laura Jajko
Laura Jajko is President of American Frame and a longtime contributor to "A Good Frame of Mind." Here, she delights in bonding with others over her love of art and framing. With more than 40 years of practical experience, she brings a unique perspective in a straightforward style that she hopes will spark lots of interesting and relevant dialogue in our online community. Connect with Laura directly here on the blog or follow her on Twitter @LauraJajko.
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