Framing photographs with large white mats, gallery-style, limits their potential. Try a color mat ― or three ― instead. Travel landscapes and abstract botanicals especially benefit from this effect; triple matting (shown above) is a common technique used for images containing multiple colors.
Although you can do it yourself with store-bought or custom-cut mats, matting is a precision art form that takes practice. But even when you’re leaving the work to the pros, it pays to know what to ask for. Follow our tips on color-mat selection for a polished look that pulls a room together.
Choosing your mat
Framing expert Doug Poloway of University Art in Palo Alto, California, offers the following suggestions.
• Keep the focus on the image. Think of the mat as an extension of the artwork itself; don’t draw too much attention to it.
• Pick up colors in the image in varying degrees. “Don’t use large mats of a hue that’s already dominant in the image,” Poloway says. Instead, use a thin mat for prominent hues you’d like to accent and a wider mat for less conspicuous colors you’d like to draw out.
• Avoid contrast. If your image is very light, stay away from dark mat tones; they’ll make the image appear even lighter. Ditto the reverse.
• Accessorize accordingly. Although Poloway warns against matting an image to match a particular room’s decor, once framed art has been hung, consider creating a vignette with hues similar to those in your image and matting. This can make the whole room feel like a composition.