Salon Style Part Two: Saving your Walls and Sanity

In my last post I promised tips for hanging a group of pictures on a wall without unnecessary damage to either the wall or your psyche. This method makes hanging the artwork as easy as it can possibly be. I'm not gonna lie, I lifted this from Martha Stewart many years ago. But hey, it works. It has helped me through many tricky show hangings and is worth passing along. Here's how to do it. What you will need:

  • Newspaper or kraft paper
  • Scissors or straight edge/knife
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Masking tape or blue painter's tape
  • Hanging hooks or nails
  • Hammer
  • Level

Once you have decided on your group of pictures, cut a piece of paper the same size as each picture's outside dimensions. Find a spot on the floor as least as big as your available wall space. If the area is much bigger than the wall area, you might want to mark the outside dimensions of your wall area to help you envision how the layout will look. Start in the middle of the available space, at what would be roughly eye level on the wall (about 5 feet or so). Lay out the paper squares representing your largest pieces first, then work your way out with smaller pieces until you find an arrangement that is pleasing to you. I've listed layout tips in my previous post here.

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Once you get the arrangement you want, you might want to take a digital photo or create a sketch of the layout.

Now, the part that makes hanging the actual pictures a snap. For each picture, you will find out exactly where you need to place the hooks or nails in the wall. Turn the picture face down (if it is a pastel, please do so very gently---any loose dust that falls on the glass could end up on your mat when you turn it over). You can use one nail or hook per picture, but I prefer two. Choose a distance a few inches in from each side, say 6". Lightly mark the measurement just beneath the hanging wire.

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Now, pull the wire up toward the top of the picture at each mark as tightly as possible, pulling one side up with the end of your measuring tape (I should be holding up both sides of the wire in the photo, but I would need three hands to do it). Now you know how far down from the top of the frame your nail should be.

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Once you have the top and side measurements, you will transfer them to the paper square representing that painting. Complete this for all of your paintings and paper squares.

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Now you are ready to hang your paintings---almost. But first, you will hang your paper squares. Recreating the layout you chose earlier, tape your paper "paintings" to the wall, being sure to check distances between each piece and making sure they are level. Once the paper arrangement is hung, drive your nails through the paper at the markings you created. (If you are using picture hooks, be sure the bottom of each hook lines up with the marking.)

Once you have driven all your nails, simply remove the paper, and you are ready to hang your collection!

I hope this has made the idea of hanging a lot of art seem a bit less daunting. It works great for single pieces as well. Good luck!

Salon Style, Part One: Eight Ideas for Hanging a Collection

[singlepic id=461 w=460 h=400 float=] No, this is not a post about my latest haircut (most common reaction: did you mean to do that? answer: no.)

Actually this is a topic I've been meaning to get into for a while, and December Small Works Season seems a good time for it. Over and over again at art shows, people say, "I love that but my walls are full." If you are trying to fit in that latest art show treasure, but can't think where you could possibly hang it, this post might be for you.

First ask yourself this: are your walls really, really full? Top to bottom, side to side? If not, you might have a good opportunity to hang some of your collection salon style. Salon style is a method of hanging art that takes full advantage of the space available, using many vertical levels in addition to maxing out the horizontal space. (Check out my example on the wall of 1900 in Spokane, WA, above.)

There are many ways to approach this kind of hanging, and it can seem overwhelming. But there are a few things you can keep in mind to help control the chaos and make for a fun project and an attractive grouping of your favorite work. Here are eight ideas to help you on your way.

  1. Start from the middle using the largest pieces to anchor the group.
  2. Plan the arrangement ahead of time to save frustration and plaster (more on this later).
  3. Mix up horizontal and vertical pieces for interest.
  4. Line up one edge of the first two pieces and use the resulting horizontal and vertical lines as an axis for the next pictures.
  5. Keep the overall shape of the grouping asymmetrical but balanced from side to side. (Think of two equal glasses of wine spilled next to one another---the shapes are different, but the size of each spill is the same.)
  6. Keep the space between each piece the same on all sides (my spaces are about four inches in the photo above).
  7. Find a way to unify the pieces. In this case there is a lot of unity since the work is all my own pastel work, and framed alike. But you might put together work from different artists with similar palettes, unframed pieces you have had framed the same way, work that is all the same medium, size, or subject.
  8. Remember, there are no rules. This is your art collection, a group of things you love, and you can hang it together however you like. The common element is you.

Check back later this week, when I will post detailed instructions on planning a grouping of pictures, including a wall- and aspirin-saving trick that will make hanging the work almost fun.