Top 4 Tips for Hanging Art – Christine Breakell-Lee

It isn’t quite as easy as taking hammer to nail!   The best way to make your house a home is to personalize the walls with meaningful paintings, prints, tapestries, posters,  oars etc. – whatever connects you to your space. We’ve asked a pro – a local, abstract artist, Christine Breakell-Lee, to give us a few pointers on how to display and hang your art for best effect.


1. Art Placement and Size

Choose artwork that is the best size for the room. For a large statement piece, choose artwork that takes up at least half – two-thirds of the width of furniture below it, such as a sofa or buffet. A horizontal piece of art is a great choice to emphasize its length and will feel anchored by the furniture. A square painting should follow the same width guidelines for the most balanced look. A tall vertical painting is a perfect choice on a narrow wall, especially at the top of a staircase or at the end of a hallway. The artwork draws your eye, making an otherwise uninteresting wall, a beautiful feature.

Example of How to Hang Art in an Open Concept Living Area
Needle and Thread (Mixed media on panel with resin. 60″ x 30″) Photo: Janis Nicolay for Project 22 Design


2. Figure out the surface, select your hardware

 Is your wall plaster or brick? Maybe tile? Do you know where your studs are? Do you know what a stud is?  You need to know all this before you begin any art hanging exercise. Generally, small nails with picture hangers are suitable for lightweight or medium weight pieces of art. For medium to heavy pieces, screws are the best choice for hanging combined with a wall plug that is made for your type of wall.

Christine Breakell-Lee Art Exhibit
@ 2018 IDS West


3. Don’t eyeball it – measure!  

Do not make the rookie mistake of hanging your art too high so you have to tilt your head back to appreciate it. The centre of the painting should be at eye level – typically that means measuring approx. 145 cm (57″) from the ground up to the average height of the human eye. Mark with pencil. Then measure the width of the wall and mark the centre.

Now the hard part – determining where you place the nail or screw based on hanging hardware – wire or D-rings. If your artwork is set up with two D-rings on the back, you will need to hang it from two screws that are level. Measure the distance between the centre of the two D-rings. Then measure the distance between the top of the artwork and the D-rings. Your hanging height will be 57” (the typical eye level) plus the centre of the artwork (simply divide the height of the art in half) minus the distance from the D-ring to the top of the artwork. Take this number and measure from the floor. This is where your nail or screw will go.

If your artwork is equipped with wire on the back, you will hang the art from one screw that is centred widthwise. Follow the steps above except measure the distance between the middle of the wire to the top of the art while putting some tension on the wire  (to accommodate for the weight of the artwork) instead of measuring the distance of the d-rings.

Example of Art Hanging in a Modern Living Room


4. Last but not least, be sure to buy what you love

Original art is an investment that will be with you indefinitely and so you should always listen to your heart about which piece speaks to you. A painting that takes you away to a beautiful place – emotionally or literally in the case of a landscape- is always going to inspire you and make a personal addition to your home. And now you know how to hang it!


Hopefully, these tricks of the trade will help make the task of displaying your art a little easier!


Christine Breakell-Lee Art Studio

Christine Breakell-Lee studied Visual Arts and Art History at Simon Fraser University where she pursued installation art projects, sculpture and painting. Following graduation, she worked as a commercial illustrator and within the interior design community before beginning her current art practice.  She maintains a full-time studio practice in the historic 1000 Parker Building (Studio 212) and will open her studio to the public during the Annual East Side Culture Crawl, November 15-18th.

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