It’s all in the colour of your wall. Hanging your art is only one step in giving your pieces the presentation they deserve. Here are six steps to painting a feature wall that is as unforgettable as your art.  

October 29, 2017

Establish The Overall Mood of the Collection

An art gallery wall should draw attention to your pieces with a colour that makes them stand out. But it should also reflect the overall atmosphere of your collection. “The colour that you select should make the artwork really pop,” Charlie Cosby, head of creative at Farrow & Ball says. “By using the right colours behind the artworks, you can make the viewer walk into a room and experience a painting in a more atmospheric way.”  

Take, for example the exhibition Edgar Degas: A Strange New Beauty currently on display at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York city. Farrow & Ball colourists and MoMA curators toiled away for months to create a perfect shade that could pull out the inky blacks and charcoal greys in Degas’ works. The end result was a deep battleship gray called Worsted, combined with a darker Mole’s Breath and Off-Black for the ideal hue. The shade also created an atmospheric moody backdrop for the artists sketches and monotypes, which were deviations from his popular ballerina pastels.   

Consider the Softness of The Art

Are you showcasing bold graphics, or soft paintings? In the case of the Degas exhibit, the stormy grey reflected the softness of the works. However, if your artwork is more graphic and features bold lines, a backdrop that provides contrast is preferable. 

Opt For Flat Paint

Many paints come in tones with plenty of sheen, but this can alter the character of deeper hues. Choose a flat paint that only reflects colour. “Flat paint is typically a better choice to highlight art as there’s no sheen, so the light reflection will come from the art, not the wall. If a rich, dark tone appears too heavy in a flat finish, try a satin finish instead- which is also a good choice for hiding fingerprints in high-traffic areas.  

Plain White Sometimes Works (But Not Always)

White is typically too white. Although, it can work at times. When American art dealer Edward Winkleman, opened a new space in New York City, he swapped his go-to Benjamin Moore’s White Dove (which has a slight yellow tint) with Super White. “This cooler white connotes a sense of examination, like an operating room or interrogation room,” Winkleman told ARTnews. This was appropriate for the show at the time, which showcased conceptual photography. In many cases, however, white art gallery walls read as outdated. “All white rooms are a 20th-century concept. Contemporary art galleries are embracing less harsh hues: In one installation of Pacific Art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the exhibition designer painted the walls with a matte tea wash. It almost looks like a cup of green tea,” Nancy Thomas, the museum’s senior deputy director, told ARTNews. “It provides a softer, more natural environment for these works.  

Create An Accent Wall

To highlight a particular painting and create an accent wall, Sherwin-Williams suggests choosing a colur from the painting for the wall and painting the other walls a different colour. Keep in mind: Dark walls make a painting appear lighter.  

Don’t Go Overboard

A colour may not seem very strong until your entire room is covered in it. “You want the walls to be support actors,” Jeffrey Strean, director of design and architecture at Cleveland Museum of Art says. Homeowners often underestimate the strength of a colour. Pay attention to undertones.  

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