There’s nothing wrong with conventional hanging, but sometimes the space, your personality and the artwork warrant something unconventional.
Before you start hanging your art, I suggest going a little Marie Kondo on your collection. Bring all your artworks together.
Paintings, drawings, maps, posters, textiles, sculptures, framed, unframed, 2D, 3D, professional, emerging, your kids’ third grade art project, a hand drawn card, a beautifully penned note…everything you view as art, bring it together.
Pick each piece up and, instead of asking if it brings you joy as suggested by Marie, I want you to feel if you have a connection with the piece. Not all art is created to inspire joy, but you should feel connected to it.
If the connection has gone, can you sell, give it away, donate or recycle it? Is it a piece your sister has always loved? Make her year and gift it to her.
You’ll never find the right spot for it if you don’t love it, so move on and let it go.
Also consider if the piece would come to life again in a new setting, frame or grouped together with other works. Does it need professional cleaning to make the colours sing again?
Now that’s done, you can move on to the fun part of hanging your beloved art!
How to Hang Art in an
Prop it on the floor. Be mindful, it will get dusty and you don’t want to put it in a high traffic zone where you could put a foot through it. I save this for framed works that are behind Perspex instead of glass, just in case.
Lean it. Lean it on chairs, shelves, cupboards, desks, sideboards, benches…it doesn’t have to hang.
Awkward space? Hang artwork in it.
Be off centre. Artwork does not need to be centred nor 2/3 of the width of the furniture it hangs above. It also doesn’t need to be straight. Play around. If the setting and the mood you are trying to generate calls for it, hang them skewed, random and off centre. Going over the top works best here; you don’t want people to think the artwork is accidentally hanging crooked.
Go outside and play. Pick wooden or steel sculptures or artworks that can withstand the elements. If you are going to hang a canvas outside, make sure it is undercover. You will need to replace the canvas eventually, so save this choice for a piece of fun art that is very ‘now’ and fleeting.
Paint your art on the floor. When my brother moved out of home, my mum waited two days before going berserk. She gutted the room, removing the built in wardrobe and ripping up the carpet. Unfortunately twenty-year-old boys are not always domesticated, no matter how hard you try.
Under the carpet was concrete, so I painted a version of van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” in the middle of it with a frame painted around it. It was now mum’s sewing room, flooded with natural light and l’eau de boy was eradicated. My apologies for the old and grainy photo of the floor, but I’m pretty impressed that I managed to find a copy!
Like to move things around? Use a Gallery Rail (picture rail). These save having to drill into your walls, plug old holes, repainting and you can keep artwork level by using two wires and hooks.
Unframed works? Use clips on the top of the work and hook this over a nail head, or use a pinup board and thumbtacks.
Small artworks? Scatter them in your shelving between books and keep sakes.
How to Hang Art in a
(but I have to challenge some of the hanging rules!)
What’s average about Eye Level? Convention says the centre of artwork should be at the eye level of the average person; people shouldn’t have to strain to see it. Most articles on how to hang art will tell you this measurement is 145 cm or 152 cm (57 or 60 inches) above the ground.
Now consider that the average height in a healthy population is 163 cm for women and 176 cm for men. This means you’re hanging it at chin level, 20 cm below the top of the mythical person’s head! I say if you’re hanging it in your home, make it your eye level and to hell with averages, giants, stilettos and children (unless it’s a child’s room, then break all the rules :-)).
Grouping Artwork. If you are grouping artwork together, treat it as one big piece and centre it to eye level…whatever level that may be!
Hanging art above furniture? If you’re hanging work above furniture, allow 10-15 cm clearance. That’s the norm and it looks good, but take into consideration how the furniture is used. If the painting is hanging above your TV watching couch, it’s going to be whacked at some point. Will it hang above your dining table, which is pushed up against the wall? Defying gravity and the best table manners, food is guaranteed to end up on it.
Want a Gallery Wall? Either have a theme with consistent frames, or go totally eclectic with mismatched frames, but pick one measurement to use predominately for the gap between artworks e.g. 5 cm. At least one side of each piece should be that distance away from its neighbour, for some consistency in a wall of inconsistencies.
Mind the Gap. When hanging artwork side by side don’t leave too big a gap. On average 5-7 cm works, but for smaller works, use a smaller gap, if large, use a larger gap; be proportionate.
The biggest rule in how to hang art is – have fun.
Play around, lay it out on the floor and discover what pieces sing when they are together.
“Autumn Dawning” Click photo to see painting details