Getting the Sizing & Spacing Right for Art, Drawings, and Paintings (Guide)

January 3, 2022

So, you have space on your wall you would like to fill with art. Lucky for you, we are here to help.

How big is that space? Get out that measuring tape. Make sure you leave enough room to hang up the artwork and have blank space surrounding it. Do not cram it into a space where it will “just fit”.

Now, let us consider what size artwork you need. A painting is different from a drawing when considering what size to buy. Most paintings are done on canvas. A stretched canvas painting (canvas wrapped onto a wooden frame) can be hung as is if you would like. This means that if you buy a 16” x 20” painting, the space it will consume on your wall will be 16” x 20” in dimension. You can also have the stretched canvas framed for a more “finished” look. In this case, you would measure the size of the frame as the overall size.

Some paintings are done on canvas boards (think of this as a thick/heavy paper). This work will need a frame to hang it on the wall. Again, you will want to use the size of the frame to determine how much space it will take up. Please do not frame a painting on canvas behind glass. Paint needs to breathe. You do not want to damage your investment.

What about watercolor? Isn’t that a painting too? Yes, technically it is a painting. However, it is produced on paper just like drawings are. There are additional considerations to protect the work that will add to the size that will go on your wall. Any artwork done on paper (watercolor, drawings, sketches, etc.) should have a mat surrounding it. A mat not only provides a nice border around the artwork but also protects it from rubbing against the glass of the frame. This is when you should have the work covered under glass. If you buy an 11” x 14” work on paper, your finished size will roughly be 16” x 20” for space consumed on your wall. The variable will be the overall size of your frame.

Before you buy the perfect size art, make sure that the space you have picked to hang it in is suitable for fine art. Of course, we want you to have some beautiful work there. However, we do not want you to make an investment that won’t last for years and generations to come.

Is that blank space in direct sunlight? If so, it would be best to hang a print you have purchased or some family photos that can be rotated over the years. Unlike plants, art hates direct sunlight! It will break down the colors in your artwork over time.

Now is that space in a high traffic area? Yes, we would love for everyone to see and admire that fine art you have invested in. But it would be a heartbreak if Aunt Betty came over, tripped, and knocked your art off the wall.

Lastly, is the space somewhere that experiences a lot of temperature and/or humidity changes? Fine art likes consistency. Too many environmental changes can ultimately damage your art.

We hope you find this information helpful. Now go find that perfect art for that perfect space!