Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Artist Spotlight: Stephanie Sherman


Raised among the rolling hills and sprawling fields of Kansas, Stephanie Sherman found herself wandering the world around her at an early age.

“I would run off and find places to explore. My parents could never find me,” she explains. “It’s in our nature to find new places, to see what’s beyond our borders. I guess I’m still doing that.”

Stephanie’s passion for art has only deepened with age. She’s tried her hand at acrylic paint, watercolor and pottery, but has a special fondness for photography.

“Photography is all about capturing that split-second moment. I think photographers are masters of time because we can freeze it in one frame.”

Dabbling in wedding and portrait work for years has pulled Stephanie back to her roots. Turning a passionate hobby into a full-time career, she’s crafted captivating and dramatic fine art photography. With an eye for beautiful, haunting imagery, Stephanie captures the spirit of natural settings and minimalism.
AF: Do you consider yourself a photographer or an artist?

Stephanie: I’m a fine art photographer and have been shooting for over 15 years. While I end up shooting a variety of subjects, my heart lies with photographing environments or moments in a way that make people feel something or, at the very least, allow you a sense of a mood. I want the viewers to feel like they could be there. I’m also a mother and wife and have made time with my family and my aspirations of being a successful artist my priorities.

AF: Do you use American Frame products for business or personal framing?

Stephanie: Mostly business, but some personal. I’m self-employed and selling my artwork is my source of income. My website is

AF: Where do the frames you buy from us go?

Stephanie: It varies. Most of my clients are either in New York or California. I work with a high-end home decor company that sells my artwork. So, most of my work ends up in the homes of those who frequent the site. A hotel in Rhode Island purchased 10-15 framed prints from me for use in their rooms.  I also sell to interior designers for their clients.

AF: What sorts of items do you frame?

Stephanie: I frame strictly photographs. A good mix of color and black and white photography ends up in your frames. The majority of what I sell is coastal.

AF: What is your favorite American Frame product?

Stephanie: I regularly use AF152 and AF206 for selling, but my favorite for personal use is

Studio 95192. It’s a thick matte white frame that’s perfect for my more minimalist black and white pieces. I also love the Hot Press Bright paper for printing. The texture and quality in the print for that particular paper really make my photographs the best they can be.

AF: Why do you work with American Frame?

Stephanie: It started with a recommendation from online blogs and forums. After visiting your site and many others, I saw that yours had the lowest prices and had the most to offer. I can have my work framed and get a high-quality print directly from your site, and ship it straight to my customer if needed. The customer service has always been great. You guys do well to accommodate my most panicked moments when a client needs something quickly.

One time I was heading out of town and my client needed their artwork delivered quickly. There wasn’t enough time to get it to me before my trip and still be able to send it to my customer before their deadline. I called American Frame’s customer service and told them my situation. I was able to send you all the materials and inserts that I normally place in my packages and you sent it directly to my customer in a non-branded box. That really saved me. And that was back before you offered non-branding as a service.

AF: Thank you, Stephanie, for being such a wonderful customer.

Stephanie: Thank you! You’ve done a great job. Your performance helps me stay productive and keeps me in business.


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

A Different FRAME of Mind

You’ve likely seen graffiti on passing box cars, decrepit buildings, and highway overpasses.
But have you ever seen it framed?

Two Australians are elevating graffiti - and further legitimizing it - by presenting it as - in a way - framed art.

SKR3AM and JINKS are contemporary street artists in Melbourne who work from their home base RedlightStudio. Actually, it’s difficult to label what they make as “graffiti,” as the term suggests illegal and undesirable expressions. That’s not the case here.

We were excited to learn that their signature work includes an element we know very well.
According to their website, the artists used “a combination of picture frames, either collected or custom made” to create “a unique trademarked process, placing each frame strategically over the mural, creating an elegant effect.”
Watch it happen in their video below.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Frames have existed for more than 2,200 years.

Some of the first known frames were used with the Egyptian portraits of the dead. Also known as Fayum mummy portraits, these works of art were framed with wood and fabric. It's believed they were displayed in the home of the deceased person before being permanently placed on the mummy.

Fayum portraits are considered to be the oldest modernist paintings and the first forms of framed art. An artist would paint an image of the deceased using a technique known as encaustic. The process required mixing colored pigment with heated beeswax.

 Imported hardwoods, such as cedar, cypress, oak, lime and sycamore were cut into thin panels and smoothed. The portraits were then painted on those panels. The finished portrait would be placed into layers of wrapping that enclosed the body, and then surrounded by bands of cloth. That gave the effect of a window-like opening through which the face of the deceased could be seen, essentially framing the portrait.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Framing Watercolor Paintings: Avoiding Common Issues

Framing Watercolor Paintings: Avoiding Common Issues

Framing watercolor paintings is easier than you think. All you need is a few techniques to avoid some common issues.
First-time framers can be weary of framing their watercolor paintings. That’s because as the art dries, it leaves ripples in the paper - sometimes subtle, but often, more dramatic. That prevents the painting from lying flat against a mat.
“And that can leave the end result looking sloppy or warped,” said Chris Brown, our Commercial Department Framing Assistant.
But making it work can be simple.
Some artists address the issue by embracing it. They start with deckled edge paper, and use a narrow mat to show the edges, even if they are warped.
Some watercolorists intentionally rip the paper to make the edges look worn. You can also apply that “floating” technique if you’ve painted too close to the edge of the paper and you don’t want any of your work obscured by the frame.
You can dry mount the paper before painting it. That allows the paper to lay smooth once the painting is finished. One drawback: you need to choose the mat and frame size before you start working.
If your watercolor paper ripples during painting, you may be able to fix it and still achieve a flat mount. Brown suggests evenly misting the back of the paper with water, then laying the work face down. Layer paper towels over the back and place a heavier layer, like Plexiglas, on the back. Finally, add another heavy layer, such as books. Check the painting 24 hours later to see if the ripples have disappeared. If not, repeat the process.
“Some people are uncomfortable using the water method with a watercolor. They think they might damage the piece,” Brown said. “But I would recommend practicing this if you can.”
Another challenge: potential ripping caused by adhesives. We recommend reversible tape. It’s easily peeled off and reapplied without causing harm to your delicate art. Brown prefers gummed tape, which can be easily removed with a damp cotton swab.
“If I’m questioning this method, I use a small sample to test a corner of the paper,” Brown said. “I find that self-adhesive tape doesn’t often hold too well with soft but dense watercolor paper.”

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Sisters Act

The thought of working with your sister might send you sprinting in the opposite direction. For them, it’s a meaningful, long term-journey. In honor of ‘sister’s day’ Laura Jajko and Dana Dunbar agreed to share their story of what it’s like to be sisters in the workplace.
What is it like to work with your sister?
Laura: For me, we’ve been working together  for so long it’s natural. I really don’t think about the fact of being sisters on a day to day basis. We have very different complementary skill sets and we rely on each other to perform. Dana’s expertise is more operational and financial, mine is more on the sales and marketing side. But we are equally passionate about running a really great company for our employees while driving value for our customers, who all really depend on us. I often laugh that ‘my younger sister signs my paychecks.’ (And that’s a good thing! I think she’s the smarter one.)
So you’re probably looking for the drama here, right? Of course we have disagreements, but not many. And when we do, we always cede to the one who has that responsibility in their court. I don’t choose the accountants and bankers, she doesn’t choose the marketing team.

Dana: It’s an adventure. Laura is always pushing the needle. She’s not interested in sitting still and continually challenges me with new ideas. Every time we talk, Laura gives me a nugget to think about. Our brainstorming sessions are the most fun. Everything is on the table and nothing is off limits. I can be a little nerdy and she is okay with that.
It’s nice to have a partner that you know you can trust and who aligns with your values. Laura knows how to motivate and she cares about her team. Laura leads by example. She never asks me or anyone to do something she, herself, is not willing to do. Her energy drives me to be better and do better. Bottom line, Laura makes my job fun and interesting.

Are you close friends outside of the workplace?
Laura: I would say we were really close years ago when we lived in the same neighborhood between 2000-2006. We used to get up every morning at 5am to walk or workout together. Since then we don’t have so many occasions to simply socialize, but we have lunches together a few days a week and of course there are family get-togethers that are important to us.
Dana: We’re never really outside the workplace but yes, we are close. Laura and I talk daily and now that she has a granddaughter, our conversations include an Ella update which invariably leads to texts of cute baby faces and tricks. I’m looking forward to some sister time at the Rauschenberg exhibit  next month. It will be a good opportunity to catch up and be inspired. 
What do you admire most about your sister?
Laura: I find her commitment to her community amazing. She recently stopped an $11M road expansion in her neighborhood – literally by creating a movement, without the need for any fundraising. She’s our very own Erin Brockovich! 
Dana: Laura’s fearlessness. She’ll put herself out there like no one else I know.
We were at an e-commerce marketing conference a few years ago where Laura was asked to be a speaker. Throughout the event, speakers emphasized the importance of testing the data. It became their mantra: ”you must continually test the data.” During a Q and A, someone asked Laura about testing the data and she honestly said we don’t always have the time to test because we have to execute.  The comments on social media were hilarious. Laura voiced what attendees were thinking, but no one had the guts to say publicly. There were a lot of heavy hitters there, it would have been easier to say we test until the cows come home, but she didn’t because we don’t.
What would you want to announce to her here on this blog?
Laura: Dana, you’re my favorite sisterJ.
Dana: Well, Laura may already know this, but this long and layered relationship of ours we call a “sister act” is just getting started. Our mission is much bigger than the both of us and I’m looking ahead with enthusiasm to see where it takes us. I couldn’t imagine a better partner for the task. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Framing Watercolor: Expert Tips and Tricks

Framing Watercolor: Expert Tips and Tricks
Some artists are nervous about framing their watercolors. As the paint dries, it can leave ripples in the paper, making it difficult to work with.

So, we talked with three professional artists for their tips on framing watercolor paintings.

How do you mount a watercolor when matting?
It all depends on the paper, says Tom Sorrell, watercolorist and president of the Toledo Artists’ Club. He prefers 140-pound paper, and stretches it before he paints to prevent ripples. He then uses high-quality framers tape or linen hinging tape to attach the painting to the mat.

Sometimes, Tom chooses Yupo, a water-resistant synthetic paper favored by watercolorists because of the textures it allows after the paint dries. When mounting Yupo, he sticks with Lineco mounting strips.
“Yupo tends to expand and contract more than other papers with changes in the temperature, so it's important to leave 1/16 to 1/8" between the edge of the Yupo painting and the adhesive portion of the mounting strip,” Tom said. “With Yupo, the painting is mounted to the backing board instead of the mat.”

When mounting watercolor art, Toledo-based Aaron Bivins often uses double-sided acid-free cloth tape for a more secure hold. His technique:
1.   Place a two-inch piece of tape on the back of the painting. Half the length of the tape should be on the paper and half should rise above the top of it.
2.   Flip the paper over and position it on the foam core. Press the remaining 1" of tape
      to secure on the board.
3.   Secure another two-inch piece of cloth tape over the other piece of tape to form a
      T shape. Press to secure.
How do you flatten a watercolor painting that has rippled before framing it?
If your painting does ripple, there are several ways to fix it. Aaron lays his painting face down on a piece of cardboard, spritzes it with water, and irons the back until it dries.
Tom follows a similar system, but substitutes a stack of heavy books for the iron.
Laurin McCracken, president of the Watercolor USA Honor Society, also opts for books, but prefers not to wet his paintings.
First, he stacks at least 30 pieces of watercolor paper on top of the art. He then places a piece of Masonite or Plexiglas on top, followed by the books. This helps evenly distribute the weight over the painting.
“If you’re using anything other than paper for weight, be sure to put a piece of paper over the painting to protect it,” Laurin said. “Also, the surface under the painting must be smooth and clean.”
If the rippling on the painting is severe, then Laurin will mist the back of the painting with water before placing it under weights. He cautions to use only a light mist so the painting doesn’t get too soggy.
How do you float a watercolor with a deckled edge?
Laurin uses Lineco self-adhesive linen hinging tape. Here’s his technique:
1.       First, mount the painting to 1/8” or 1/4” foamcore or mounting board. Leave a 1/2” border. That will give the illusion of the painting “floating” above the mat.
2.       To attach the painting to the foamcore, first attach the linen hinge to the back of the painting and run the tape through a slice in the foamcore. Use a second piece of linen tape to affix the first piece of tape to the back of the board. Attach the painting to at least two places at the top of the board.
3.       Add additional loops of linen tape in the same manner to prevent slipping, especially during shipping.

For these three artists, the benefits of framing their own work far outweigh the risk of a tear or a ripple.
Some like the flexibility to reuse frames. They say they’re more inclined to take a piece apart if they’ve framed it themselves and know exactly how it’s been mounted. Others said they like the control of framing their own art, and that they can ensure that dust and other contaminants don’t wind up behind the glass.
But the biggest reason so many watercolorists frame their own work is financial.
“The reason I frame my own paintings is the cost related to framing,” Laurin said. “It’s just basic element of managing the funds I have to support my art business.”
Have more framing questions? Contact us.


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Ohio Watercolor Society Permanent Collection

OWS Permanent Collection
    When someone mentions watercolor paintings the general thought is the very simple, pastel landscape that you might find in your grandmother’s house. Usually a bright pigmented, photo realistic, painting on plastic paper doesn’t come to mind. Luckily we have The Ohio Watercolor Society Permanent Collection to break all of those stereotypes for us. This collection is described “as a way to encourage the advancement, understanding, appreciation, and awareness of the broad scope of watercolor paintings.”
   “The Ohio Watercolor Society’s Permanent Collection comprises 37 paintings that reflect the quality, scope and evolution of watermedia painting during the Society’s first 25 years and include categories of abstract, collage, figurative, landscape, portraiture, and still-life paintings,” mentioned  Thomas Sorrell President of the Ohio Watercolor Society (OWS). Pushing the boundaries of watercolor media is something OWS strives for. Tom explained that the board is considering enhancing the collection and trying to find new criteria to use for this expansion “It would make sense to have some painted with egg tempera or casein and to have some paintings that were done on surfaces such as Yupo in order to show the breadth and diversity of watermedia painting.”
   A little bit of background regarding these paintings . . . the collection is comprised of artists that are members of OWS and some eminent jurors of its annual exhibition. Each year from 1978-2001 paintings were added to the collection with money raised by OWS, mainly through donations from members and friends. Some paintings were donated to the collection by past or present members or their estates.  The purchasing of paintings stopped in 2001 mainly due to lack of funds so the collection was then held in storage until last year when the Board of Trustees made a decision to refurbish the paintings and to display them. “As it turned out, this was a good decision . . .” Tom said, “The place where they had been stored was flooded recently by several thousand gallons of water and mud from a nearby construction project.”  Tom mentioned their current home is in a climate-controlled, secure storage facility (on the second floor!).

   American Frame had the honor of refurbishing the collection in 2016 and currently have the paintings displayed in the showroom gallery after almost a decade in storage. It was last shown in Columbus in 2008 and this is the first time it has been displayed in Northwest Ohio! Later this year the OWS Board has plans to use the Permanent Collection to encourage and support watermedia painting in Ohio. “Perhaps portions [of the collection] will be loaned to corporate donors for several months at a time. It might be exhibited in whole or in part at various galleries or museums around the State. Several paintings could be displayed on a rotating basis with the opening of the Annual Exhibition,” Tom speculated.  Whatever plans the OWS Board has for their permanent collection we all know it will challenge the way we look at watercolor paintings.
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