How to hang a painting on a wall

After picking up and buying paintings for our home we usually face another problem – how to hang them right and nicely around the house. There are some simple basic rules that might help us to handle it.

Accent light

Lighting is a very important element in the placing of your paintings. Most experts agree that the best image illumination is provided by good general brightness of the whole space; but certain paintings might still require some booster light. For example, if the room is not lightened enough, or if the key light glares, or if you just want to make and accent on some painting or group of paintings. You should place your lamp so that light spreads evenly on the surface of the painting, not forming any shades or lights in a picture itself. For accent light it’s better to use halogen lamps, as in medium size shape they create a nice directed flow of light that doesn’t distort the paintings’ color range. You should also not forget about preservation of your painting: maximum lighting should not exceed 150 lx, and a 100W glow lamp or 20W luminous tube lamp should be placed no closer than a meter from the object (if it’s a 200W lamp — then the minimum distance should be 2 meters, etc).


You should not hang your paintings too high, it’s better to place them on the wall so that one could watch them comfortably. We can suggest a universal method of paintings’ hanging. If the painting is drawn horizontally, you should draw an imaginary line, up from the lower border of the painting (the painting itself, not the frame) on 2-3 cm, and to place the paining so that this line should meet an extrinsic, i.e. your eye level. For vertical paintings: for high ceilings the principle remains the same, and if they are low, you should draw your imaginary line 6 cm higher than the painting’s lower border.


How to choose the best distance for observation? For Impressionist paintings (made with large brush strokes) the rule is the following: you should measure the length of the painting’s longest side and multiply it by three. The number received (in meters) would give you the minimal distance for the best observation.
What kind of shape to choose – vertical or horizontal?
You should keep in mind that vertical paintings visually enlarge the ceiling, and horizontal – lengthen the wall. Horizontal paintings look well above the sofa, bed, drawer, etc.; vertical would look great on narrow walls.

Slope angle
If you want your painting to sit flush with the wall, you should draw the picture wire as tight as a bow string. And if you wish it form an angle with the wall, then loosen the wire (the weaker is the wire tension and the lower picture hangers are fixed, the bigger is the angle.)

How to group your pictures.

  • If the wall in your room is big and the paintings are small, it’s better to place them in groups surrounding the painting you like the most. The group should consist of paintings that have something in common — style, theme or color range. For instance, there could be a set of watercolors, batiks, or combination of watercolors and oil paintings united by similar motif or palette. You should also keep in mind that in group of three pictures the one in the middle will always seem dominating and drawing most of your attention.
  • If all your paintings are of the same size, the simplest way of hanging them would be in one line, at even intervals. But they would probably look much better and creative if placed on different levels.
  • Some paintings, usually old-style classic ones in massive frames would require a lot of space on the wall and such paintings should not be confined with furniture of other artwork.
  • There is also the ancient, tried and true method of placing the paintings as a wall board, so that the entire wall is covered with them.
  • Don’t place the paintings on your wall according to their size (from the biggest to the smallest or vise versa), as this is considered to be a sign of an ill taste.
  • To make it right some experts advise to form the group of paintings on the floor first, and then to transfer it to the wall.


It is not necessary to get similar frames for all the paintings in the group. If each frame is selected right, the whole group would look well and balanced.

Easel Display

This way of displaying paintings has become rather popular lately. It gives you an impression of creation, as if the artist has just finished his work.

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