Saturday, October 27, 2012

Hanging at the American Museum of Natural History

I'm at the shop today in Emeryville, but the three of us at Holton Studio are also hanging in the American Museum of Natural History and taking part in the reopening of the North American Mammal Hall for which we produced dozens of hand carved oak frames as well as other fixtures. Read all about it in the New York Times, listen on NPR., and watch on MSNBC (where, at 1:26, you can see one of our frames directly behind the reporter). What a privilege to take part in such a monument of our nation's public cultural heritage!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Mirror with Carved Medallion

Here's a recently commissioned mirror. The design is based on that of a pair of frames I made years ago for two leather panels by CR Ashbee. This mirror is a horizontal adaption of that design, featuring at the top center a carved medallion with two pine cones. The outside dimensions of the frame are 36" x 48". The medallion is 4-1/2" in diameter. Quartersawn white oak with Medieval Oak stain.

Below is shown the top rail after carving.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Framing Gustave Baumann Prints

Over the years we've had the pleasure to frame quite a few prints by master American printmaker Gustave Baumann (1881-1971). Here are three just finished:
Gustave Baumann, "Early Spring, Brown County"

Gustave Baumann, "Rio Pecos"

Gustave Baumann, "Coast Range"
The frames are stained walnut compounds.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Framing Thaddeus Welch—Carved Corners

Had the privilege of framing a Thaddeus Welch (1844-1919) oil painting a while back (here). Took a very different approach with this one, playing up the wonderful tradition of Taos frames. Trevor Davis had made a corner sample similar to this, and when the painting came in, the design, with a couple of adjustments (scaled down, made as a flat rather than a slope), would be just right. This is a 3-1/4" wide compound flat profile with carved corners, in quartersawn white oak with Medieval Oak stain. The painting's about 12" x 14-3/4".
Here's a detail of the corner:

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Framing a Benjamin Williams Leader Landscape

Just finished framing this spectacular 1875 Alpine landscape oil painting by British artist Benjamin Williams Leader (1831 - 1923), titled "The Wetterhorn from Rosenlaui." At 72" x 60" it has a powerful presence (see last photo for scale). Commissioned by a Member of Parliament, John Derby Allcroft, the year it was painted it was displayed at the Royal Academy, where Leader's work was shown in every summer exhibition from 1854 through 1922.

We made a 6" wide stained quartersawn white oak compound frame with a chamfered mortise-and-tenon flat and gilt oak liner. The chamfer has carved points that articulate the corners with a detail that also picks up a form pervasive in the painting.

Corner detail

Below is the painting in its old Victorian makeshift frame—a conventional 19th century exhibition frame heavy on compo (molded plaster-like material meant to pass itself off as carving).

Clearly influenced by John Ruskin's pleas to painters to go to nature, to see her both truly and reverently—and sharing with Ruskin a passion for the Swiss Alps—Leader contributed in his way to the great project of re-framing art, led by Ruskin and the Pre-Raphaelites. I wonder if, while breaking with convention on the canvas itself, he followed the Pre-Raphaelites, Whistler and others to make his ideals real in the form of the picture frame itself. If so, I hope our efforts would have met with his approval.

This is the third Leader we've had the privilege of framing. Another is on my site, here.

The painting with Eric Johnson next to it to give a sense of scale (Eric's over 6' tall).

Monday, July 2, 2012

Framing a Millard Sheets Watercolor

Another wonderful California watercolor, this one by Millard Sheets: "Boats of Noyo," 1974, 22" x 30". The bold and colorful watercolor has all the presence of an oil painting, warranting our framing it close (an 8-ply gasket mat and lined rabbet, along with Museum Glass, keep it archival). The spirit of the painting demanded a simple profile. The quartersawn oak frame is a 3-1/4" wide flattened cove to echo the forms of the boats and soft trees and hills. Flattened form suits both the shallow perspective and artist's approach which is less illusionistic than it is a decorative treatment of the paper as a flat surface. Gilt oak liner.

The view of a thriving craft, and in a beautiful natural setting, sure speaks to me!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Framing Alfred Stieglitz

Am quite pleased with how this one turned out — a little (5" x 6-1/4") print of an iconic New York streetscape by one the great masters of photography, Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946). The frame's 2" wide, in walnut with a bit of Nut Brown stain.

Here's a better look at the profile:

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Paul Kratter Wins Plein Air Awards

Paul Kratter is sporting two more feathers in his cap. At last month's Carmel Art Festival, his painting "Rush Hour" (oil on canvas, 8" x 16") was awarded Second Place—a feat topped this month with first prize honors for his "Glory Days" (oil on canvas, 10" x 20") at the Laguna Plein Air Painters Association Best of Plein Air Show! No doubt about it, Paul's clearly established himself as one of California's top landscape painters.

Congratulations, Paul!
Rush Hour
Glory Days

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Framing Sam Washburn and Chez Panisse

Pictures that depict frames and finish trim always offer the frame-maker an opportunity to achieve a high degree of harmony and unity between the picture and the frame.
Such is the case with this Sam Washburn oil on canvas — a view of the Craftsman interior of Berkeley's famous restaurant, Chez Panisse. For the 14" x 18" picture we used a 3" Four-Square Basic (done without the usual reveals on profiles of this frame this size) in Honduran Mahogany with a light stain to harmonize. Mahogany square plugs (they appear darker because you see the end grain, which absorbs more stain). The Craftsman-style interior is carried out by the iconic Craftsman mortise-and-tenon joinery in the frame. The otherwise plain profile works not only with the architectural details depicted, but with the loose painting style. If the picture were more tightly rendered and/or had more detailed and finer line work, then a more formal frame, or at least a more formal liner in this frame, would be called for.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Framing James Cosgrove

 A customer recently brought in this little (5-3/4" x 8") oil on board by Glasgow painter James Cosgrove (b. 1939). The stained walnut frame was designed entirely to the painting, with a carved cushion rim around a flat with fine carved flutes. I'm very pleased with the harmony of line and form, as well as color—a rare occasion when black works best with a painting.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Framing Dwight Clay Holmes

We just framed this 20" x 16" canvas by Texan Dwight Clay Holmes (1900-1986) titled "Red Bud".
I was especially pleased with the form of the frame profile as an enhancement to both the graceful use of line in the painting (hence the reeding) and the loose brush work (hence the coarse, wild figured quartersawn white oak as well as the carved convex sight edge element). This frame is similar to one on the Charles Partridge Adams, below, which I wrote about here.

I realize these are pretty similar to the frame on the Louis Apol a couple of entries back. But it's useful to compare three ostensibly similar frames with nevertheless significant differences when considered with respect to the pictures they're on.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Framing Contemporary Photographs--Geoffrey Agrons, 2

A couple of years ago I posted an entry about framing Geoffrey Agrons's wonderful photographs. Here are a couple more we just did.

This first one, "Big, Big Love" is in an exhibit opening this month at the Center for Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins, CO. It's framed in a No. 123.8 Century Series flat, 3" wide, in stained walnut.

The second example, a still life, is framed in our most basic mortise-and-tenon frame, the Aurora, with a liner that's an ogee with a bead at the sight edge. The outer frame is a nod to the art of the cabinetmaker, while the refined liner picks up the forms and fine lines of the photo.

See more of Geoffrey's work on his site, here.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

How Art Fairs Frame Art

"Art is the expression of man's joy in his labor" -- that's how the great material task of humanity and civilization was framed by William Morris. (Yes, it was Morris -- not, as a Google search will lead you to believe, Henry Kissinger). After reading Peter Schjeldahl's New Yorker piece, "All Is Fairs" , it's clear to me the thought is long overdue for rewriting. How about this: "Art is a few people's expression of their joy in seeing how much money they can get the .000000001% to spend on kooky and ever-so-cleverly-ironic stuff they make, or find, or kind of throw together, or whatever."

Monday, April 30, 2012

Framing Louis Apol

Here's a notable historical work for you. Just framed this beautiful European landscape by Louis Apol (Dutch, 1850-1936), "A Forest in Winter" (oil on canvas, 32 x 25). (Click image for a larger view.)

The stained quartersawn white oak frame is a 4-1/2" wide slope with a carved cushion sight edge. The double reeding outside the cushion, with carved stops near the corners are a nod to the delicate strokes that define the trees, and give the frame a degree of refinement in sympathy with the artist's well-honed touch. The 1/4" gilt slip catches the sunlight. We were aiming for a suitably rustic but sensitive feel, a quiet mood, simple. No "before" shot of this in a gold frame, but can you see how the dark wood suits the painting much better than a gold one would? How it's like the shadows in the painting, and how the shadowy feel of the frame leads your eye to the picture and acts as a foil to the picture, and in particular to the sunlight? And, of course, the rustic feel connects you to the rustic subject matter much more successfully than would a gold frame.

Below is a corner sample of the frame design (without the carved stops on the reeding).

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Framing Grueby Tiles

We just finished framing a batch of Grueby tiles for a customer in Ohio. Something simple but alive to these very lovely and historic items. A pleasure! (Click images to view larger.)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Ranches & Rolling Hills - MALT Art Show and Sale 2012

Spring is here a bit early this year with daffodils and fruit trees in full bloom. I have been visiting some beautiful West Marin MALT ranches, painting and collecting images for this year's 15th Annual "Ranches & Rolling Hills" art show. Three years ago I painted a portrait of a sheep named Torpedo on Al Poncia's ranch in Tomales. He was one of the 'bum' lambs raised by Anita, Al Poncia's mom, in her laundry room. A 'bum lamb' is one that is rejected by the mother ewe and therefore has either be hand fed or attached to another ewe. He became very tame and for a long time loved people more than his own kind. A couple of weeks ago I made a visit to the ranch and Torpedo was grazing out in the field. When I called his name, he came ambling over to the car and almost hopped in to see what I had in my cooler. I knew he liked apple, so I quickly pulled one out and cut off little pieces to give him. Torpedo loved it and soon had eaten the whole apple. He scratched my leg, just like a dog, begging for more. What a character! I gave him some good back scratches, which he gladly accepted, before he ambled off into the pasture with his flock.

I decided I had to paint another portrait of this friendly guy, and so he will once again make an appearance at the "Ranches & Rolling Hills" Art show to be held in Nicasio on May 19th and 20th, 2012. Make sure to mark your calendars and come out West to see a great show featuring over 40 well known California artists' works of art. Fifty percent of the art sales will go to benefit Marin Agricultural Land Trust so that they can enable Marin ranchers to continue working their land. The event is free to the public. Please visit "Ranches & Rolling Hills Art Show" for more information about this event. Hope to see you there....

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Framing a Grueby Tile

We just shipped out this beautiful 6" Grueby tulip tile to a customer in Ohio. The soft and subtle form of the leaves suggested a very feminine frame and inspired this adaptation of our Holland profile.

For more on framing Arts and Crafts tiles, see this older entry.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Re-framing William Hubacek

Just framed this 10" x 14" oil on canvas by notable Californian William Hubacek (1871-1958), rescuing it from a cheap gold setting. The job offers a good before-and-after, and a good example, I think, of how a frame helps or hinders your ability to see the picture:


The frame's flat coving up to a carved cushion back edge. In quartersawn white oak with Weathered Oak stain. Very oak-y. Much more sympathetic to the spirit of a very lovely painting.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

New work from Erik Tiemens

Erik Tiemens just brought in three lovely Marin County oil paintings, all done at Rodeo Beach.
This (above) is "Rodeo Beach—Marin Headlands," 12" x 16". $1200 unframed.

“Hillside at Rodeo Beach,” 8-3/4" x 11-3/4". $1100 unframed.

 “View of Rodeo Beach,” 6" x 12". $900 unframed.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Framing a small Edward Curtis—Another Carved Corner Design

Recently framed this small original Edward Curtis photogravure of Apache Indians for a couple in Texas. The print had wide margins, but we wanted the effect of framing it close so used a lap-joined flat — kind of a wooden mat, although on top of the glass. We've taken this approach a number of times before.
 Also wanted to show the carved corner design. Both the corner design and the chamfer on the flat, which has 45 degree angled stops, echo the headdresses in the photo.

Friday, January 20, 2012

"Wisdom of the Hands"—Doug Stowe Advocates for Handcraft in Education

For those of you who appreciate the aspect of handcraft in our work, I thought I'd draw your attention to the blog "Wisdom of the Hands" by Arkansan woodworker and teacher Doug Stowe. I learned about it while reading Matthew B. Crawford's Shop Class as Soulcraft. Doug is something of a voice in the wilderness in arguing for more hands-on learning and a return to manual arts in schools—especially in the younger years.

If handcraft is part of the bedrock of an economy (indeed, of civilization), as I argued in my essay "Real Wealth: The Value of Art and Craft in a Debased Economy," it's certainly part of the foundation of learning. I hope you'll check it out and help spread the word about Stowe's sound thinking and important work.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Framing Charles Partridge Adams—Simple Corner Carving

We recently got to frame this early twentieth century landscape by Charles Partridge Adams (1858-1942). At just 10" x 14", it's humble in size as well as subject matter, and loosely painted—all aspects suggesting a fairly simple frame with a bit of carving.
The tree trunks brought to mind the profile we'd come up with a few months ago for Paul Kratter's view of Lake Tahoe, "Twisted Pine Above Emerald Bay," below—a flat with a double reed near the sight edge and a carved flattened ovolo (convex form) at the sight edge—but I thought I'd refine it a little, adapting it to Adams's more "dapple-y" style.  

So I decided to enhance the lines formed by the double reeds. So added a simple pattern of carved stops to the reeds near the corners. I'm pleased with the effect. I'd like to do more with simple corner carving this year.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Framing Contemporary Paintings—Andrij Korchynsky

This recent job offers a simple lesson in two key elements in frame design: line and form.
We just framed this contemporary painting by Ukrainian-American artist Andrij Korchynsky. Despite the loose style, the sweeping lines and angularity of the roofs suggested the form of the profile—a broad flat sweeping up to a scoop and then beveling back. With respect to line, a narrow raised panel at the sight edge, at the same width as the lines defining the structures, adopts the painter's standard. A 1/4" liner oil-gilded with 23 kt gold leaf gives it just the right highlight in keeping with the painting's palette.

The wood is quartersawn white oak with Saturated Medieval Oak stain.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Framing Kevin Courter in Compound Polyptych

A customer recently commissioned Kevin Courter to paint three cottages on his rural northern California property, then had us frame the three 8 x 10's. Here it is:
The idea was to create a frame alive to the soft edges as well as architectural subject matter.

New Yoshiko Yamamoto "Wisdom of Trees" Prints

We've always had a steady flow of orders for framing Yoshiko Yamamoto's wonderful linoleum block prints. She has just announced a new series, "Wisdom of Trees". Beautiful!