The Frame

I am not aware of any other artist (if I may call myself one) who imagines, envisions, the frame even before he starts to paint. And yet the frame is an essential part of the final presentation, is integral to the actual art.

A frame is essential for a definite reason. It delimits the painting from its surrounding, say the wall. This relates to a specific lung meridian 2 problem which I call the wonderland problem. Let me explain.

So often I see people who, at an unconscious level, have escaped from a threatening world into wonderland. Of course, psychotics. But I’m talking here of people who, for instance, make bad business decisions believing them to be good. On deep testing I find that they do not believe the floor they are standing on, the clothes they are wearing, and so on, are real—but that fairies are real, and Santa Claus.

And that bankruptcy is not real, but limitless wealth is. And in this state they have made the unreal decisions (which seemed so real to them) that they are now in trouble. But the trouble, too—the court cases, the dunnings—are not real!

A painting, a photograph, is of another world. Not everyday real, like the wall. And the frame is essential lest we slip into unreality concerning this real world. It also helps us to concentrate on, go deeply into the art, feeling unconsciously reassured by the frame that we will not lose reality. You are now safe to enter the other reality of the art.

Let me tell you this as an aside. I once had a very schizophrenic patient who painted a face—except that it was all over the canvas, in pieces—as was his thinking. He explained to me that the eye (there was only one) was to see who was spying on you, and the ear (again, only one) was to hear who was talking about you.

“But,” he went on, “I don’t need to tell you about the lips—they speak for themselves.” I didn’t laugh—but had a comedian said it, I would have. Comedy, you see, is a guided tour through the wonderland of insanity where we are protected by the comedian. And we can go deeper knowing we are safe. He is our frame, separating one reality from the other.

So I frame the painting that you may go deeper into it. And the frame is always very carefully chosen—almost always very simple, small and nearly always black. Chosen, as envisioned, with this Lung 2 wonderland problem in mind.

Nearly always I leave a white border between the actual painted area of the canvas and the frame. Then it feels better. I believe this feeling is based on the Chinese philosophy of life—and thus of painting—of Empty and Full. The white around adding to the sense of Emptiness to balance the Full. Of course, there is Empty in the painted area as well as the predominant Full, but more Empty is needed to bring Peace and Resolution.

There is also another reason I leave a white border around my paintings and photographs. And this relates to the heart meridian, the meridian of anger. Specifically, to Heart 5—castration. Anger that one’s power has been taken away.

When you look at any painting or photograph with the frame impinging on it you will feel, at some level, anger—which is, of course, not my intention for my art. It is as if the art is crying out that it has had its power reduced—is castrated—by the assault of the frame. And it seems to sigh with relief and smile with gratitude when by the white border it is fully displayed—not cut off.

You may ask do I always in my mind see the frame on the canvas before I start? Not consciously—although by now it must always be working underneath. Nowadays, I often reinforce my mental image by placing a loose frame around the canvas before I start. Now, the canvas and I—we are ready.