Hello art lovers, now we are going to talk about hanging a large canvas.. or multiple ones, as my title suggests. You may have all kinds of questions about this and I will try to address them all. First off, I used to be a big fan of larger sized paintings. I used to visit art museums and be blown away by monumental pieces of artwork and I thought good artwork should be about thinking big.
Sometimes I would try my hand at bigger paintings, but later on I found those sizes impractical and these days I have a much greater preference for smaller sizes.
Well, there are exceptions of course…like that space behind your sofa. You may have heard the term “sofa size painting” Usually they are large and panoramic looking – meaning they have to be very wide so they complement the length of your couch. Or you may have wall space that little paintings will just get lost or not stand out much to be visually appealing (unless you’ve got enough of them to form a cluster group.)
There’s a few special considerations of course, that you may be asking about. “But aren’t bigger canvases heavier? Won’t I need to use a studfinder dealie to help with that?”
I won’t be getting into the in’s and out’s of using a studfinder – there are other articles out there that talk about that subject. I will say, however, if you’re dealing with artwork that IS behind glass and professionally framed, both of which add extra weight, yep, you’re probably going to have to do the legwork of dealing with wall studs (or anchors.)
Can You Hang a Large Canvas Without Frames…Or Nails?
That’s mainly watercolor paintings that are in that category, though, and since this is a blog about painting with acrylics most likely, you’re like me, you have canvases 16 x 20 or bigger that you are looking to display that are unframed and not behind glass, and as a rule they aren’t that heavy.
As you’re probably well aware, you don’t need to worry about frames, either. (Professional framework can get pricey…I only got into it under requirement for shows I took part in in the past>) You can always paint over the stapled edges of the canvas so your work looks more refined, and some canvases today are staple-free on the edges.
So hanging a canvas without a frame , or using nails, can be a breeze, if you follow some important guidelines like these I will be walking you through:
Canvas Prep: Attaching the Wire
The first thing to do now is to assemble the hanging apparatus (wire and brackets) for the painting. Full disclosure: Some of this is advice I got form a professional framer that I am passing along to you.
To determine the right place to hang the wire is important. If the wire is mounted too low, they painting could bow out and look funny, too close to the top and the wire could be exposed and the weight will be too great. As a rule of thumb the picture hanging wire should be a fourth of the way down from the painting’s height for the right amount of balance and weight distribution.
- First take your canvas and measure its height. Now divide this number by four …this is where you will make your mark to attach the hanging materials. Use a pencil to mark the spot on the back of the canvas stretcher frame. Do the same for the other side. For example, if your canvas is 20″ in height, make your mark at five inches down as 20 divided by 4 is 5. A 16″ tall canvas should be marked off at 4″ down. If your canvas has a height that can’t divide evenly by four, I’d round up to the closest number.As a case in point, my paintings below are 30″ in height which doesn’t “quarter” evenly. I ended up marking about 7.5″.
- Get a pushpin and insert into the spots you marked . This will make it easier to “get it started”. Get an eyehook and insert it into the hole and twist until it’s flush all the way in. Repeat for other side.
- Cut a length of hanging wire – enough to have at least 5″ of overhang beyond the eyehooks. Cut off ends with pliers. Wrap wire through eyehooks, you may have to wrap it around a few times to secure it. Make sure there is minimal slack in the middle.
- Repeat this procedure for any other paintings you have. Now your prized work is ready to hang!
This infographic I made here ties it all together…
Now on to the subject of what to actually use on the wall. I use those Command hooks made by the 3M company – they are a godsend and spare me from the distress of having to use nails. I like the medium sized ones the best. It says on the package that they “will support 1 lb”. All sizes come with adhesive-backed foam strips that stick to the hook on the back and the wall. I also used 2 hooks for each painting – so a total of 6 – as 2 hooks takes the stress off a little from hanging larger paintings than just one.
This has worked out very well…Keep in mind you want to get the hooks that come with the thick foam adhesive strip. Some of them have clear plastic sticky strips which in my opinion, are not as secure (and I’ve had some things that did fall down as a result…sigh). So be sure to look for those. You can tell because the hooks themselves are opaque colored. You can also buy refill foam sticky strips too, just FYI.
How High Should You Hang Your Canvas?
Before you start sticking on those hooks, we’ve got to determine the right height and location. This is one of those things where you’ve only got one shot at it. LOl. While there isn’t a “hard and fast” rule, it’s a good idea to keep paintings displayed at eye level. Using my couch as a benchmark, I would recommend at least one foot of space between the couch and the bottom of the painting.
So when you make your measurements with your yardstick, be sure to add that 12″ to the canvas’s height. Yes, you may need a chair or stepladder for assistance. You can tell here, what that amount of space looks like, in addition to my cat being a sweet lounge lizard, both those panels are roughly 12-14″ up from the start of the couch.
If you have multiple canvases also be sure there is equal distance between them, too – I think mine are about 5-6″. Yes this is a tedious job, but remember you only have to do it ONCE.
Similar guidelines apply for other types of furniture – e.g. a table or chair, 12″ -14″ space between it and the canvas is ideal. Or if the area is empty as well. I would hold the canvas at eye level to determine a good spot, then mark it.
Check this out. This is a three-panel painting made to hang above the couch in the living room. Each canvas is 24″ x 30″. I hung each canvas individually using a yardstick, pencil, and those Command hooks.
Hanging a Big Canvas with…Velcro??
Now this is not the only way to do this, but it is the way that has worked for me the best (after lots of trial and error). I also saw something the other day involving Velcro strips made for paintings. The way it works is that there are four of these in the package. You attach a strip to each corner of the painting and the respective ones to the wall in the same spot and apparently these will hold the painting. I haven’t tried these yet, so I can’t tell you if they work well or not.
Anyway, that is my take on hanging large canvas paintings and art…have you found any ways that have worked for you? I’ve love to hear your thoughts, so comment below if you’ve tried anything else. Good luck, and thanks for hanging with me!