Traditional gallery-style framing consists of a plain white mat and a thin black frame. It’s a simple way of framing whose goal is presentation without distraction. As a working artist however, you want to both present well AND sell your artwork. One possible way to attract and stimulate customers is to present some of your images in colored mats. Psychological research has shown that color can and does affect purchasing behavior, yet many artists are timid about using colored mats because they aren’t sure how to match the mat to their image. To help clarify some of the confusion we’ve listed a tip on how to select colored mats for your artwork.
Tip for selecting Colored Mats for your artwork:
1. Choose the impression you want to convey, such as professional, fun or lighthearted,
earthy, romantic, etc.
2. Select a color family that is representative of this impression.
• Professional/Formal – gemstone colors like burgundy, sapphire blue, emerald green and dark purple
• Fun/Lighthearted - electric blue, bright pink, tomato red, lemon yellow and lime green
• Earthy/Nature - most shades of brown, leafy greens and some ocean blues
• Romantic/Dreamy - pastels such as baby pinks or cool blues, lavender and mint greens
Once you have picked a color family, select samples of several shades within, and place them next to your artwork. Notice how they either harmonize or contrast with image, and determine which ones best express the impression you are trying to convey. If you are framing, keep in mind that the colored mat must also coordinate with your picture frame.
Still nervous about using colored mats? Try this compromise. Use a colored mat close to the image, and a plain white, off white, or black mat as the top mat. This is will add a little color without overwhelming you or the artwork.