A New Mona LIsa?

This isn’t an art blog but I thought I would share some thoughts about one of my favourite paintings.

The Mauritshaus in the Netherlands has recently been reopened following a major refurbishment. The museum houses a significant collection of paintings by the Dutch masters; Rembrandt, Holbein, Brueghel, are all represented, but perhaps the most iconic and well known paintings in the collection is Vermeer’s masterpiece, Girl with a Pearl Earring.

The Girl with a Pearl Earring was painted in about 1665 and has in recent years come to be one of the most famous and widely recognised paintings in the world thanks in part to the eponymous book and film.

It occurred to me on reading about the reopening of the Mauritshaus museum and having read the book by Tracey Chevallier, that we may be witnessing the birth of a new art icon. Could the Girl with a Pearl Earring come be regarded as a new Mona Lisa?

For me I have always found the Mona Lisa a little bit, well, ‘difficult’. Whilst no doubt a masterpiece, in the flesh so to speak, she is, um, rather dowdy. The smile is as enigmatic as ever and there is as much mystery surrounding the subject as there is the artist but I find the muted colours, dulled by the years, a little depressing and the whole effect is, for me at least, one of melancholy.

Vermeer’s work on the other hand always fills me with immense pleasure. The vivid colours, the glint in the girls eye, the coy pose and almost imperceptible pout, all contribute to an equally enigmatic painting but one that has a frisson, that certain something, that draws the viewer in, wanting to know more; are there untold secrets behind those eyes? This is unlike the almost sculptural, stoney silence of the Mona Lisa.

A masterpiece certainly, the new Mona Lisa? Only time will tell. But I know which one I would prefer to hang on my wall.



An Artists Studio

As a picture framer you get to meet a lot of interesting and often creative people who you would never normally meet. Artists are one such group and often they are quite modest about the works they produce. I recently had the privilege of meeting once such artist who has taken modesty to the extreme. In the late 1980’s Gordon Snee took early retirement and took refuge in his studio. Last year Gordon was taken ill and sadly passed away early in 2013 having spent the intervening years steadily working away in his studio.

Gordon only ever exhibited sporadically and not at all over the past 20 years or so. A graduate of the Slade and a prize winner in the 1967 John Moores art competition, the year David Hockney won, and Never one for publicising or promoting his work, Gordon turned down London gallery representation in favour for a career in teaching.

As a friend I have been asked to help in cataloging and organising the disposal of the works in Gordon’s studio. I will be posting some photographs and updates as the process unfolds.

photo (1)


Self-Assembly Picture Frames – An Answer to the Artists Dilemma?

Bespoke picture framing can be regarded as a bit of a luxury and in these cash strapped times it is understandable when people sometimes hesitate to get items framed.  This is a particular problem for artists who are faced with the dilemma of having to get their art framed for an exhibition with no guarantee of being able to recoup the cost through sales.

It is well known that a decent frame can enhance the value of a painting but decent frames cost money so what do you do?  Invest in framing and increase the value and potential sale price of your work or accept substandard framing, or worse no framing, and the subsequent reduction in the value of your sales? It’s a bit of a catch-22 situation.

Self-Assembly Framing

Self assembly framing can help with this dilemma.  A lot of the cost in bespoke framing is paying for the labour of the framer, the materials account for a relatively small percentage of the overall cost.  Self-assembly framing transfers the labour element from the framer to you, saving you money without sacrificing the necessary quality.

A little bit of time and few simple tools is all that is needed to assemble a frame and prepare it for display. No specialised picture framing tools or knowledge is required.

The self assembly-frames sold by Ashcraft Framing are pre cut to the sizes you require in our workshop and assembled by you using a simple dove-tail system.  Once assembled the frames are ready to paint or stain as you see fit to compliment your works. 

For Works on Canvas or Board

A basic self-assembly frame is ideal for works on canvas or board.  The canvas is held in place by push points driven into the frame behind the canvas or simple flexible metal plates.

For Works on Paper

If you need to frame works on paper then you will need to add boards and glazing to the self-assembly frame. Once you have mounted the picture the glazing, normally acrylic, is placed inside the frame along with the mounted artwork and backing boards and the whole package is secured in place with the push points mentioned above.

For more information about our range self-assembly picture frames see our website. If you don’t see what you need please ask as we don’t have our full range of mouldings on the website.


Art on the Map – Lincolnshire Open Studios

Ashcraft Framing are proud to be associated with Art-on-the-Map, or the Lincolnshire AOTM LogoOpen Studios.   Set-up in 1999 to promote artists and creative ‘makers’ across Lincolnshire, AOTM provides the opportunity for tourists and the general public to visit the studios of working artisans and see for themselves how art is made.  There is always a chance to meet the artists and if you like purchase their works.

The very good AOTM website allows you to search for artists in Lincolnshire and provides  artist contact information and a chance to see photographs of their work. There are even a few picture framers in there.