Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Breaking Artist’s Block

Sometimes, it feels like the paint is flowing from your brush effortlessly. There’s no thinking or plotting the next move. You just have to keep painting and let the piece come together, as if it’s creating itself.

And other times, the creative faucet feels broken. You stand in front of the canvas, struggling for inspiration that feels hopelessly out of reach.

All creative people have experienced both scenarios. The key is turning the latter one around. And one of the best ways to do that is to try something new.

We’re not talking about swapping your standard sky-blue paint for navy. To break a creative block, you’ll have to step far outside your comfort zone and try a new style of art, new materials, a new medium, or new scenery.

If you normally paint nature scenes, try a portrait. Love Impressionism? Give Modern Art a whirl. Trade in your watercolors for charcoal. Or step entirely outside your comfort zone and pick up a camera (like artist Vineta Cook explains in this blog post). Maybe leave the comfort of the studio and paint surrounded by nature, like these Plein Air artists do.

Ready to stretch your creative wings? Here are some tips to get started.

See More Art
It’s hard to paint what you haven’t been exposed to. So, explore different kinds of art. Visit upscale museums and funky, downtown art shows. Immerse yourself in masters like Monet, Dali, and Warhol, as well as up-and-coming artists in your own neighborhood (or at one of our showroom exhibits). Browse the works of respected photographers, like Annie Leibovitz, Richard Avedon, and Diane Arbus. And don’t forget less-obvious sources of inspiration, like people-watching or browsing vintage clothing boutiques to explore fabrics, shapes, and colors. The creative spark leading to your next great work could be behind any corner.

Learn from the Best

When you’re in a creative rut, it can be helpful to get back to your roots. Who were the artists who first inspired you? Look at their work, deconstruct it, then try it for yourself. We don’t mean you should copy their works or attempt to pass them off as your own. But studying their successful techniques and trying your hand at them could help banish the block and let the ideas flow.  Past featured artist Renee Smith, for example, creates her own twists on the work of masters. Read about her art in our blog post.

Try Something New
Unsure where to start? Take a trip back in time. Paint a Renaissance-inspired portrait. Try your hand at abstract art. Incorporate elements of the Art Deco style into your work. No matter how the finished piece looks, you’ll learn new skills and expand your creativity in the process.

Take a Break
A watched pot doesn’t boil. And no matter how long you stare at that blank paper, a work of art won’t magically appear out of thin air. So, when art feels like a chore, do something else. Take a walk. Wash the dishes. Order art supplies. Even meditate, like past featured artist Peter DeWood does. Interrupting the task at hand can let your mind wander and your creative juices start to flow.

Give Yourself a Pep Talk

During a slump, it can be helpful to remember your accomplishments. Dig into your archives and review pieces that were received well, got attention, or earned awards. And don’t forget your personal favorite creations as well, even if they didn’t earn kudos. Reliving career highs can be helpful when doubting your talents.
Display Your Work

Who knows? Fighting against a creative block could produce an unexpected and interesting piece. If you’re proud of what you’ve created, give it the framing treatment it deserves. Our wood and metal frame collections feature frames fit for any era of art, from ornate gold and silver wood frames to clean Mid-Century Modern designs. After choosing a frame, the online design workflow makes it easy to choose the frame and accessories to complete your piece.



Share your projects with us. Tweet a photo of your experimental creation to @AmericanFrame using #AmericanFramed or email it to Customer.Service@AmericanFrame.com.
Have questions? Our framing experts are just a phone call away.
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Friday, June 1, 2018

New Arrivals: Take a Peek at Our Freshest Finds

At American Frame, we love supplying you with on-trend styles and the latest and greatest in museum-quality frames, tools, and accessories.
That’s why we’re so excited to announce a stable of new products, along with additional colors and styles of best sellers.
New Products
Italian craftsmanship pairs with modern style for our new Bevelwoods Collection. Featuring a sloped “bevel” front designed to draw eyes to the artwork, they’re available in trending colors like Putty and Silver along with classic Black and White. The collection is perfect for paper art, but also deep enough to accommodate canvas.

Meet metal’s softer side. The new Nielsen® Fusion Collection features stylish brushed finishes in neutral and metallic shades. With a soft, angled profile, these frames demand a second look. They’re ideal for photographs and works on paper.
New Colors

When you find a product you like, it can be hard to use anything else. But sometimes, a favorite frame or mat board isn’t available in the right color. With the addition of new hues of our most popular frames, it’s easier than ever to match a room’s décor or the mood of a piece.

 Our beloved Canvas Float Frames are now available in new metallic tones Gunmetal and German Silver.  Love the current Gold and Silver Canvas Float Frames? Try the new solid-color options. Where the originals had black sides, these have the same tone throughout the frame. All feature a 1 ½” rabbet and are perfect for stretched canvases.
Framing a large piece? Our Oversize Mat Board is designed to fit it. And with new shades Tan, Off-White, Grey, Charcoal, and Navy Blue, you have more options than ever. Find out more in this blog post.

Protect your art, in vivid color. Bainbridge Alphamat Conservation Mat Board now comes in a variety of bold hues popular in home décor. Choose from playful Peacock, Blue Spruce, Teal Blue, Sapphire and Bordeaux. And for updated neutrals, try Tuscan Brown, Pecan, Terra and Toasted Almond.

If you’re a fan of Bainbridge Alphamat Topmat Conservation 6 ply Mat Board in versatile Spanish White, try it with a new black core to add visual interest. We’ve also unveiled Conservation 8 ply Mat Board in new Grey.
Love the sharp, pressed look of a tailored suit? Incorporate it into your art with new shades of Bainbridge Alphamat Linen Conservation Mat Board. The fabric boards take inspiration from traditional menswear and are now available in boardroom-friendly hues like Camel, White Cloud, Chino, and Heather Gray.

Looking for something? Our framing experts are just a call away.

Trying one of our new products? Show us the results. Tweet a photo of your creation to @AmericanFrame, share it on our Facebook page, or email it to Customer.Service@AmericanFrame.com

Create with Color: Oversize Mat Boards in New Hues

When framing large pieces of art, your mat options were previously limited to black or white. And while those hues match most works, sometimes even wall-sized statement pieces need a splash of color .
That’s why we’ve just introduced five new colors to our oversize mat board collection. Choose from Tan, Off-White, Navy Blue, Grey and Charcoal to add visual interest and depth, create a “break” between the art and the frame, and keep the acrylic off the artwork. These new additions have a smooth, untextured surface and a solid white core. They’re also acid and lignin free, so they’re a great fit for archival projects and resistant to bleeding and fading.

Most mat boards measure about 32 by 40 inches and don’t accommodate more generously sized pieces. Our oversize mat boards are 40 by 60 inches , so you can create visual interest in frame treatments for larger works.
These new options allow a broader range of uses. Choose a mat board that emphasizes the colors in your photo. Incorporate a signature wedding color into a favorite supersized bridal photo. The new range of colors expands your creative options. 

Need framing advice? Browse our How-To section or give us a call. We’re happy to help.

Here’s a Tip: Consider the Resolution

Photographers share a common goal: using light composition to capture moments and creates emotions in viewers. The most iconic photographs  ̶  from the struggles depicted in Dorthea Lange’s moving images of the Great Depression to the jubilant kiss between a sailor and a nurse in Alfred Eisenstaedt’s “V-J Day in Times Square” – all stir up something in anyone who sees them.
If you’ve shot an evocative image it’s natural to want a wide audience for it. So, new photographers can be tempted to enlarge the photo to make it stand out.
But larger isn’t always better. In fact, it can be worse. The final quality of an image has a lot to do with its resolution, or the number of pixels comprising it. If the resolution of an image isn’t high enough, enlarging it can obscure it, causing a blurry effect.

 So how can you tell if your image resolution is high enough? American Frame Printing Services Supervisor Tom Peters has an easy-to-use formula.

“The number of pixels in your image divided by the size you want to print in inches equals the required resolution of your image, in PPI, or pixels per inch,” Tom said.

We recommend images have a minimum resolution of 130 PPI at print size.
For help finding the amount of pixels in your image, read this blog post by our expert framer Mike Cromly.
Here are some other things to keep in mind.
Take High-Resolution Images.

Adjust your camera settings to take the largest pixel dimensions it can at the highest quality it can. It’s easier to size down a high-resolution image than to blow up a low-resolution image.
When in Doubt, Order a Proof.

You don’t have to imagine what the final product will look like at a certain size. We offer color or resolution proofs on any paper for a flat fee of $7.50 a proof.

Have more questions? Browse our How-To section or call our framing experts. They’re happy to help.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Would You Go to a Robot Art Exhibit?

Recently, I read about German researchers who designed a deep learning computer algorithm that can paint like famous artists. The software, introduced in 2015, distills and understands the essence of how a great masterpiece is painted, in terms of style, colors, technique and brush strokes. When a photograph is fed to the computer, the algorithm can turn the photo into an artistic painting using the painter's signature style.
The algorithm teaches the computer how to identify and separate the style and content of images. So, while the buildings and layout of the image stay the same, the colors, lines and "local structures" changed to emulate the famous work of art that had been entered into the system.

Using a series of paintings that included Van Gogh's The Starry Night, The Scream by Edvard Munch and Figure dans un Fauteuil by Pablo Picasso, the computer produced surprisingly beautiful results that still retained many elements from the original photograph. The researchers concluded the project “offers a path forward to an algorithmic understanding of how humans create and perceive artistic imagery."

So that got me thinking, what would an exhibition using this machine look like? How would it be different than one by human artists? Do you think you could tell the difference? Would you go to a robot art exhibit? Why or why not?
I’d love to hear what you think. Share your thoughts in the comments.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Using a Canvas Float Frame

Canvas float frames add unique visual interest to your art. They’re named for the illusion they create - that your art is “floating” within the frame, rather than touching it.

The effect is at your fingertips. Select one of our many float frame styles and colors, and then enter our design workflow. 

Include the dimensions of the “float” you’d like in your canvas size. If you order a frame for a 10 x 12 canvas with 1/8” float on each side, for example, include the dimensions of the desired float with your measurements and order a frame that’s 10 1/4 x 12 1/4.


This is easily accomplished by checking the box ‘add a float gap’ on the frame tab in the workflow:

Holes are pre-drilled into the frame to attach the canvas, so the maximum float is 1/4” for metal frames, 3/4” for American Hardwoods frames, and 1/2” for all other wood float frames.


You’re just a few steps away from finishing your look. For a wood frame, follow these steps:

1. Unpack and organize materials.

2. Place the frame on your work surface, face up.

3. Insert and center your canvas within the frame. If you ordered your frame with a float gap, it is helpful to center the work using cardboard or wood pieces as shims to keep the canvas aligned during the framing process.

4. Attach the artwork. Insert the provided screws into the stretched canvas via the pre-drilled holes on the frame.
5. Tighten it up. Make sure your art is square within the frame, readjust as needed, and tighten all screws firmly.

6. Add hangers, wire & bumpers. Position one hanger into the side of each frame as shown and ensure they are in line with each other. Tighten the screws. Loop wire between the hangers and twist at the ends to secure. Then, adhere wall protectors to the bottom corners of the frame where the frame touches the wall.

For a metal frame, follow these steps:
1. Select the frame bottom. Start by choosing the section of the frame that will serve as the “bottom” of your frame display. Place the frame face-down on your workspace. Then, position two angled plates (one with screws, one without) together into the hardware track at each end of the bottom section. Make sure the screw heads face outward. To fasten the plates, gently tighten the screws in the hardware track. Don’t fully tighten any screws until the frame is completed, as you won’t be able to adjust them if necessary.


2. Attach the sides. Choose one of the side sections and slide it onto one of the plates that you attached to the frame bottom. Align the mitered ends and tighten the screws just enough to hold the two frame sections together. Repeat this step with the other side section. The edges can be sharp, so you may want to wear gloves.



3. Add the top. Insert the corner plates into each end of the top of your frame as you did with the bottom. Complete the frame by attaching the top to the sides. Align the mitered ends and tighten all screws in the corner plates.



4. Insert your artwork. Lay the frame on a flat surface and insert your canvas. Now, it's time to attach your artwork to the frame and achieve the "float" effect. First, make sure the stretcher bars in your canvas are at least as thick as the screws we provided. If the bars are too thin, you'll need to purchase smaller screws. Insert the screws into the pre-drilled holes of the frame and into the wood of the stretched canvas. Again, don't tighten all the screws completely until you're finished.
5. Tighten everything. Adjust your artwork if necessary, making sure it’s centered in the frame. Tighten all the screws firmly for a secure fit.
6. Add finishing touches. Now it’s time to prepare your float frame for hanging. Position one hanger into the hardware track at each side of the frame. Tighten the screws. Loop wire between the hangers, twisting it at the ends. Adhere wall protectors to the bottom corners of the frame where the frame will contact the wall.

Lastly, hang your float frame, and then stand back to admire your work.


If you have questions or need assistance along the way, contact us. We’re here to help.

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