The Art of the Picture Frame

Museums pay thousands of dollars for artisans to restore, recreate, and preserve them. They can substantially transform our experience of beauty.  We pass by them multiple times a day, but rarely give them any thought.  Frames.

~ A frame draws out the hidden beauty of a painting that would otherwise go unnoticed.

~ A frame sets the artwork apart from its environment.

~ A frame draws the viewer’s eye to that which is important.

Rembrandt’s home was cluttered with props – costumes, animal skins, armor and ornate jewelry.  To the passerby, there was nothing outstanding about the collection (other than its eclectic nature).  Rembrandt, however, saw the potential in each item.  Rather than scanning the landscape and seeing only clutter, he saw endless possibilities that could be captured and worthy of  framing.  The ordinary, when set apart from its environment, became extraordinary.

At any given time, my home is filled a variety of nondescript objects.   Some on display, some in piles, and some tucked away in hopes that visitors won’t see.  Yet if I pause to consider one small section of a room, each isolated item represents a novel’s worth of story.  (More on that here.)  The ordinary, when set apart from its environment, becomes extraordinary.

Imagine going about your day carrying an empty frame.  As you look around your office, home, or community, there are limitless opportunities to pause and examine more intently.  Take out your frame and choose one.  What had been part of the landscape becomes set apart.  It now has your focused attention.  The trash can overflowing with crumpled papers.  The shiny new bike filled with promise of adventure. The bird salvaging bits of yesterday’s discarded craft project to be woven into tomorrow’s home.   The frame draws out that which would otherwise go unnoticed.

The same is true of our inner lives.  Now imagine carrying an empty frame through which you look at life’s circumstances, the soul of another, or your own heart.  Nothing in the environment changes, yet where you place your frame will significantly alter your perspective.  You get to choose.

When my child, husband, friend, (or fill in your own blank) becomes difficult or frustrating, I can choose.  Where will I place my frame?  Will I focus on the inconvenience caused to me, pain inflicted upon me, or cost paid by me in order to love?  I can become quite comfortable, even entranced, while inspecting closely  the harm that has been done.  The longer I gaze, the more I see.  The more I see, the more locked into place my frame becomes.

Yet I have a choice.  In that same situation, I can move the frame.  I can shift the focus from myself to another.   Although the pain inflicted is still present, it loses its power when I refuse to make it the focal point of my thoughts.  My attention is shifted.  A  frame has the ability to draw out beauty which was already present, yet would otherwise go unnoticed.  By shifting my gaze, I can train my eye to refocus.  I can learn to see the world from a different vantage point.

~The frustrating child becomes the child who needs affirmation

~The spouse who has disappointed becomes the partner who is overwhelmed with life and needs support

~The hurtful friend becomes the friend who is hurting and in need of grace

It’s all in where we place the frame.  In that choice, we hold the power of bestowing blessing or curses upon another, and ultimately, in bringing blessing or curses upon ourselves.

So pick up your invisible frame and explore the familiar landscape with new eyes – Great works of art are awaiting your discovery.

“Art consists of limitation. The most beautiful part of every picture is the frame.”

G.K. Chesterton

 



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