You’ve poured your heart and soul into a painting. Now what should you do to get it ready to display? If you’ve created a painting on paper, it’s ready to frame. Read about framing options for works on paper in my blog post here. If it is a painting on canvas, there are just a few more things to do to get it ready to hang.
Varnish the Painting
There are different formulas of varnish for oil and acrylic paintings, so choose the right one for your work. There are many brands out there, but I personally like Gamblin for oils and Liquitex for acrylics. Varnishes have different finishes (gloss, matte, satin) to fit your taste. I prefer a gloss or semi-gloss finish, because I like the painting to look like it was just finished and it prevents the painting from looking dull. Make sure your painting is completely dry before varnishing, not just dry to the touch. For an acrylic painting this will probably be a couple of days, and for an oil painting a couple of weeks or even more depending on the thickness of the paint. Always read the instructions on your particular varnish, but the technique is essentially this: using a wide brush, sweep the varnish back and forth quickly on the surface in thin layers. Apply several very thin coats, drying completely between each. You will want to work in a dustless room if possible, as dust will settle into wet varnish and stick.
Add Hanging Hardware
The most user-friendly and cost-effective option is to use screw eyes and wire, available at any craft or hardware store. Screw eyes come in different sizes, so choose one that seems appropriate to the size of the art (smaller screw eyes for smaller projects, larger for larger – you want the screw to grip into the stretcher bar securely). Twist screw eyes directly into the wooden stretcher bars about a quarter of the way down the sides of the painting. Cut the picture hanging wire several inches longer than the width of the art and thread it through the screw eyes. Loop the wire ends around itself to secure. Don’t leave too much “slack” in the wire or the painting will sag on the wall, and never let the wire come up past the top of the painting when pulled taut. You can also frame your painting (read my canvas framing tips here), which I like to do if the canvas has a thin profile (an inch or less).
Sign Your Work
Add the finishing touches to your work by signing and dating your painting. You may also want to title the work and photograph or inventory it for your records, if that’s important to you or if you are selling your art. I prefer to sign the back of the work so my signature doesn’t distract from the art, but that is a personal preference. Now your work is ready to hang. For hanging tips, read my guide here.