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Tips for Displaying Artwork


The urge to decorate the walls of our homes with artwork is definitely not new…just think about the early drawings of cave dwellers. That desire to capture images of things that intrigue us so that we can hold them in our minds sounds like an innate human feeling!

If I were to play a word association game using the word “artwork” my spontaneous answer would be “pictures”.  Each time I’ve moved in my life, hanging “pictures” has been a very important part of making my new place feel like home.  Might cave dwellers have felt more at home once they had personalized their walls with drawings?

“Pictures” is a term that my mother used.  Maybe it’s a folksy, Texas expression.  My first childhood admiration for “artwork” or “pictures” (as I would have said then) involved a framed watercolor of a cyclamen plant in a clay pot. It was painted by my mother’s friend, Billie Lunn in 1948.  Mother gave it to me about 20 years ago…and it is not glamorous, but is very special to me because of the family ties.  Perhaps that cyclamen even influenced my future career as a florist.

Pictures are available in many forms such as water colors, oil paintings, prints, etchings, posters…and the list goes on.  They come in many sizes and a variety of shapes.  How we choose to display them is sometimes an easy decision, sometimes not so easy.

Hanging pictures too high is a common mistake.  It makes them appear to be disconnected from other objects in the room.  The best height to hang pictures that won’t be hung above a piece of furniture, is at average walking height (even if you are tall, or live with others who are tall). It is the spatial relationship of the picture to the amount of wall space that is important.  Too much wall space will make the picture seem insignificant.  Rarely are pictures hung too low.

Here is great tip that will help you avoid another common mistake!  A stairwell is the only place where it is considered appropriate to hang pictures in a “stair step” pattern.

When hanging groupings of pictures of varying sizes, the rule of thumb is to have two boundaries of frames where the edges of the frames form straight lines.  The grouping can have one horizontal boundary and one vertical boundary, or two vertical, or two horizontal.  This is essential to create a sense of order for the grouping!  Pottery Barn catalogs are often a good place to see examples of groupings of framed pictures.

Groupings of pictures are more cohesive when they have similar subject matter, such as landscapes or botanicals, or even Japanese themes.  It is a must to choose artwork in colors that accent your wall or upholstery colors.  With practice, you can even successfully mix themes within a grouping.


I have a favorite “picture” that is actually an etching.  An etching is a picture (or design) produced by printing from an etched metal plate.  The etching is called “Ready”.  It is a Wire Fox Terrier pictured with a red ball.  The terrier is obviously ready to play ball.  The fine print beneath the picture says Etched by Herbert Dicksee R.E. copyright 1928 by Frost & Reed Ltd (of Bristol England).  There is small picture beneath “Ready” leaning against the wall.  The small picture is anchored with tacky wax so that it does not slide.  The wax can be easily removed from the wood surface and frame.


Another favorite is a poster with a “glass frame”.  The subject matter is the USS Lexington anchored in Corpus Christi, Texas.  The Blue Ghost as she is also called, is now a museum.  My husband and I were very privileged to be married on the flight deck of the Blue Ghost!!

by Evelyn Kinville, Behnke’s Garden Blogger

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

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