How to correctly hang a painting

Let’s imagine that you have acquired your first piece of art, an original perhaps or a great find in a shop. How should it be hung in a way that maximizes your enjoyment of it and keeps it safe from bumps, moisture and heat?

The middle of the painting dictates how high the painting gets hung. The middle of the painting should be at your eye level or approximately 57 to 60 inches above the floor. A taller person would likely choose the 60 inches.

Anyone who has ever hung a painting knows that the height of the support wire on the back of the painting can confuse you as to where the nail gets pounded into the wall. If the wire is long and loose then the painting will hang too low. How to get around that and get the nail in the right place every time? Ideally two people would be hanging the painting. One would reach up under the back of the painting and stretch out the picture wire, press it to the wall and make a mark in the right spot either with a sticker or even a fingerprint of saliva or a light pencil mark. The other person is supporting the painting and has a small hammer and small finishing nail at the ready. Two nails are best for hanging but one is fine for a smaller piece.

So now let’s suppose you have two or more paintings and they are to be hung in the same room. Whether or not they are the same size the middle of each painting is kept at the same distance from the floor. If you are going with 60 inches you may want to utilize a measuring tape and the same trick of reaching up behind the wire at the back stretching it taught and figuring out where the nail needs to go and marking it somehow.

A spot of blue tacky in one corner will help keep the painting level once it is hung.

Suppose you have a grouping of three paintings which are to be hung together as a set. Depending on the configuration of the set, say three in a horizontal column or three in a vertical column or two over one, the middle of the middle piece will set up the height of the grouping. The general term for this approach to hanging art is the gallery style. It is simple and effective.

I have noticed another approach to hanging art which is gaining popularity and it is called the salon style. It works well for a varied collection of art of different sizes and different frames. It is loose and free and relaxing. It could suit any room but especially a less formal room. I would suggest starting with the largest piece, using the middle of it as your guide as to height and then arranging smaller pieces around it somewhat like pieces of a puzzle. In this instance you may want to have a strong diagonal movement to the placement of the artwork and allow the paintings to overlap rather than being hung in columns or rows. Leave at least an inch or two between all pieces if possible, to give breathing room and dignity to the art.

And one more approach is called the grid style and it is exactly what you think it is. It is very calming and suited to a series of pieces the same size and same style of framing. It is nice over a piece of furniture or even in a large entryway. Again, the middle of the middle row should be near your eye level and then you space the remaining pieces accordingly. Of course, the bottom row should not touch the furniture so if the individual pieces are large the height of the middle row may need to be higher than usual. Using a measuring tape and a marking method saves on any need to readjust heights and make more holes.

Let me know if this helps you. I would love to see photos of your paintings on display!



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