Four Strategies for Arranging Art

Display need not be prescriptive. Leave old paintings unframed to relax traditional art or mat and frame prints or photographs identically to arrange in a neat grid pattern. Paint unmatched frames linen white or a pale tint for a cottage or country look, or choose black frames and white mats to pull together a contemporary wall grouping.

Here are four arrangement suggestions:

Leaning and lapping

Hang picture shelves (an odd number is visually pleasing) to organize framed and matted black-and-white photographs. Lean and overlap prints to avoid blanks; fill in with edited accessories in contemporary shapes.

Order from diversity

Turn assorted prints, photographs, and frames into an arrangement with paint and mats. Work out the grouping on the floor or trace shapes on kraft paper and tape to the wall before nailing. Start in the center and work out.

Weighted with black trays

Vary shapes and sizes of the same type and same color of object (here floral tole trays) for a strong focal point. Center the largest object to anchor the easy arrangement. Flank with a pair or balanced grouping of similar objects.

Frame with watercolors

Relax traditional art with innovative display. Here the two lower watercolor prints hang with the frame edges under the prints (inside the mats). The arrangement calls attention to the glazed, classical-style head plaque.