Art Display Ideas, Basic Art Care Tips, Stuff to Do, and a Very Special Plea For a Pittsburgh Artist’s Family

Before I give you some tips on taking care of your awesome art collection even if it is one piece and ways to display it, I would appreciate a moment of your time and consideration for a special fundraiser. It is for a Pittsburgh artist’s family to help them through a deeply difficult time and to preserve his legacy for his family. His name is Timothy Kelley, a member of the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh. He passed away suddenly at the age of 59, leaving behind a young son, Teague, whom he was devoted to. He passed just before the opening of his exhibition at the Ink Well Coffee Shop in Lawrenceville in December 2023. I never had the pleasure of meeting Tim in person. I only knew him through Facebook and Instagram, but several of my friends and colleagues knew him well as a caring and generous person, passionate about his painting, his son, and the art community in Pittsburgh.

By Joann Renner - 02/21/2024

From the Official GoFundMe Fundraiser Page (by permission of Jannick Wildberg):

“Jannick Wildberg and Sasha Phillips are organizing this fundraiser on behalf of Adrian Newhouse.

Dear Friends, Supporters, and Art Enthusiasts,

 This is a heartfelt plea to preserve the legacy of a talented artist whose work has touched many lives.  Our dear friend artist Timothy Kelley sadly passed away recently, leaving behind a stunning collection of paintings that represent his lifelong dedication to his passion. Unfortunately, without immediate action, there's a real risk that his artistic legacy could be lost forever.

 The Situation:

Tim Kelley poured his heart and soul into his art, creating remarkable pieces that captivated viewers and sparked conversations. His creations aren't just beautiful works of art; they are a reflection of his passion, creativity, and unique perspective on the world. Sadly, there is a looming threat that his entire collection could be lost or destroyed.  As of right now, the entire contents of his apartment including many of his paintings, are scheduled to go to a government dumpsite on February 10, and the entire art collection of his art studio will soon be disposed of by a storage company. In other words, his hard work is set to be treated like garbage.

Tim's relative recently stepped up to save this tragic situation and to ensure that Teague can inherit his father’s artistic legacy but needs substantial funds to intervene properly, legally and promptly.  

 The Urgency:

We cannot let this happen. It would be a tragedy to see Tim's paintings be taken to the dump when they have the potential to inspire future generations and to support his beloved son Teague, which is what Tim would have wanted.  We have a rare opportunity to ensure that his artistic legacy lives on, but we need your help to make it happen.


 Our Goal:

Our goal is simple: to raise enough funds to secure the preservation and maintenance of Tim's paintings so that they can be passed down to his son and cherished for years to come.  The funds will also go to filing and legal fees for properly administering Tim’s estate.  By contributing to this cause, you'll be helping to safeguard a piece of artistic history and honor the memory of a talented artist who left us way too soon.

 How You Can Help:

Your donation, no matter how small, can make a world of difference. Whether it's the price of a cup of coffee or a more generous contribution, every dollar counts towards our goal. Together, we can ensure that Tim Kelley's paintings remain a lasting testament to his talent and passion, and that Tim’s son is protected in his rights.

 Spread the Word:

Even if you're unable to donate, you can still support our cause by spreading the word. Share this campaign with your friends, family, and social networks, and help us reach as many people as possible. Together, we can rally support and make a positive impact on the future of Tim's artistic legacy.


Thank you for taking the time to read our message and consider supporting our cause. With your help, we can ensure that Tim Kelley's paintings continue to inspire, evoke emotion, and leave a lasting imprint on the world.  Let's come together to honor his memory and preserve his legacy for generations to come.  With all the crazy things going on in this world, we need art to survive and inspire, not to be thrown out like garbage.

We are deeply grateful to Sasha Phillips, an incredible local attorney, for her compassionate and expeditious guidance in this tragic situation.

The Art Community of Pittsburgh and Friends of Tim Kelley.”

Update:  the fundraising goal has been reached, but legal/administration fees continue and anything left will go to the family. The Pittsburgh Housing Authority has granted a one-week extension until Friday, Feb. 23.

Photo of Tim and his son, Teague smiling in an art gallery. 

Photo credit: John Altdorfer, @j_altdorfer

If you feel called to help, here is the link to the GoFundMe page (the only official one). Even simply spreading the word is certainly appreciated by everyone involved.

Are You Looking to Beat Those Winter Blues?

Here are a few things to do in the ‘Burgh while we wait for Spring to make her appearance and stay awhile:

Art Battle Pittsburgh

IG @ArtBattlePittsburghPenn

This is becoming a really popular indoor event for artists and spectators alike. The next Art Battle is scheduled for April 11, 2024 at Spirit, a music venue, bar and pizza place located at 242 51st St. in Lawrenceville. Tickets are $20, and it is 21+ for admittance.

It is a fun, live painting competition where the audience can watch the artists create paintings in 20 minutes then bid on them afterwards. It’s a totally informal way to learn about the creative process without any anxiety or fear and the artists win prizes based on voting by the audience. This would be a fun date night idea or go with friends and just have some fun. Don’t forget to get some of Spirit’s excellent pizza too, I highly recommend it!

A group of people in front of a black background

Photo credit: Art Battle Pittsburgh Facebook page

Bottlebrush Gallery

The Bottlebrush Gallery is located at 539 Main St., Harmony, Pa. 16037 in one of the original historic  buildings of Harmony. They have the art gallery, an antique shop on the second floor, music concerts, an open mic night, a Women’s Creative Circle meetup, and Last Dog Records, a vinyl record shop also on the second floor. They are dedicated to Buy Local by offering works by artists and artisans only from within 50 miles of Harmony.

Classes and workshops for all age groups, and event space rentals are available along with a wide range of art and fine craft types, such as fine art, fiber arts, quilts, iron work, glass and even organic dog and cat treats in the gallery area!

One class that’s coming up sounds like a lovely way to welcome Spring, and that is a Beginners Adult Watercolor class to be held March 14th , 21st , and 28th, 2024, at 6:30pm-8:30pm each evening. All skill levels are welcome, especially beginners as it is a relaxed and judgement-free class.

There is an $85 Registration fee, and all supplies are included. The instructor is Beth Slagle, member of the Cranberry Artists Network. Tickets are available at

A building with lights on the front

Photo credit: Bottlebrush Gallery website

A Short Guide to the Care and Display of Your Art Collection

Just as important as finding that amazing piece of artwork or works that truly elevate your space, maybe even making the neighbors a teensy bit jealous, is taking care of it and displaying it so it brings enjoyment for many years to come.


There are several types of paintings, such as acrylic, oils, and watercolors. Watercolors I will include with works on paper, as they require more care to display.

Acrylic and oil paintings are traditionally painted on stretched cotton canvas or linen, where the cloth is stretched taut, much like a drum, over a wooden framework. Older pieces from the early 20th century and before, were secured with tacks but now staples are used. Some artists buy their canvases already pre-made (saves time and energy), or buy the fabric, the wood stretcher bars and build it themselves. This method can be a budget saver, as sometimes a painter will cut their own wood to the desired size. It works great for custom sizes not available in stores. I have done it both ways for my own work, depending on the needs of the project.

Antique paintings were also done on wooden panels, which were easier to transport for the travelling artist. This is a very popular option now, and you can find works on cradled panels, usually either wood or Masonite (or similar material). The flat panel is braced on the back with a cradle of wood pieces on the back to keep it from warping. It makes it easy to attach a hanger and if the artist paints the sides, you don’t even have to frame it. It gives a clean, modern look that way. I’ll get to types of hangers in just a bit.

Some artists are also painting the sides of canvas paintings, either with a solid color or by extending the actual painting onto the sides. This also gives a very contemporary feel and eliminates the need for expensive framing. Large paintings can be extremely pricey to frame, and interior designers as well as the artists themselves often feel that frames can actually detract from contemporary paintings.

That being said, there is a current trend which is a wonderful compromise between the minimalist approach of no frame to a traditional frame, and that is the floater frame. These are a clean looking, often wood frame that is slightly bigger than the painting is. The painting itself is secured to an inner liner so that the sides and the full front of the painting can be seen, nothing is obscured. The painting is just as protected as in a traditional frame, giving the artwork a finished

Antique paintings of course were meant to be in traditional, often ornate frames, and really wouldn’t look right in anything else. If you have an antique painting that you love, it’s worth the investment to get a high quality wood frame or have the one that’s original to the piece restored to its full glory.

 Painted edge of a stretched canvas                  A wooden frame with a wire hanger attached to it    A painting of a sunflower in a garden

Painted edge of a stretched canvas            Back of a cradled panel painting       Floater frames (photo  

                                       Photo credit: Joann Renner for both                                        credit                                                                

  A white couch with a painting on the wall 
Unframed oil painting in a room setting by Joann Renner

   A canvas wrapped around a frame 
Stretching a canvas
Photo credit: Joann Renner

Types of Hangers for Paintings

The two best known types of hangers for oil and acrylic paintings are sawtooth hangers and wire hangers.

Sawtooth are used for small, lightweight, often inexpensive pieces. They usually are included with readymade frames that you can buy just about anywhere. Artists might use them for the small pieces they offer at festivals and markets.

The preferred type of hanger, certainly for medium to larger works is the wire type. When I worked as a framer many years ago, screw eyes were used on both side ends on the back and plain, braided steel picture wire was attached so the painting could be hung securely. A much better option is now used and preferred by galleries and collectors alike. That uses D-rings instead of the screw eyes, and different types of wire can be used including coated wire. This allows the painting to hang flat against the wall instead of sticking out like with screw eyes. Check with your picture framer to see what they offer if your painting doesn’t have them already.

These can be found on either framed or unframed pieces.

Sawtooth style hanger        Wire hanger with screw eyes
Sawtooth hanger                                            Wire hanger with screw eyes

Wire hanger with D-rings 
Wire hanger with D-rings

Photo credits: Joann Renner

To clean paintings, use a dry, very soft brush like a cosmetic brush or one similar. Lightly brush off dust in gentle, regular strokes, being mindful of any raised textures. That’s it!

Works on Paper

Works on paper simply means the artwork was created on paper. That could be watercolors, pastels, drawings, prints, collage, mixed media, ink, just about anything can be on paper.

These artworks should be displayed in a sturdy frame with glass (Tip: frames are one of those things that you really do get what you pay for). Quality really should not be skimped on, especially for treasured artworks. Think of it this way: would you want to see a discount big box store T-shirt on a Vogue model?

Other than some collage and mixed media works, works on paper are framed with glass or plexiglass (and variants) to protect them from dirt, dust, and pollutants.


Traditionally works on paper have been framed using cardboard mats. These come in the cheap stuff that turns yellow over time and leaves stains on the artwork (yuck!), with varying levels of quality up to the museum quality high-end cotton rag boards. I use 100% cotton rag matboard for my works on paper.

The current trend being embraced by artists and galleries is to forego the mat and use spacers to separate the artwork from the glass. This gives a full view of the art without compromising integrity. I do this now for my pastels. Double and triple mats are out-of-style now for decorating trends, which I am happy about. They are very difficult to cut and expensive. But if your pieces are already archivally framed (meaning that all framing materials meet the appropriate standards for preservation), and you like it as is, then by all means keep it that way.

Double matted picture

Antique Historical Print (Engraving), Archival 100% Cotton  Rag Double-mat, Museum Glass, and Traditional Gilt Wood Frame
Photo credit: Joann Renner

Pastel with no mat

Framed pastel without a mat
Photo credit and artwork: Joann Renner

*Important: please display all paintings and works on paper in areas that DO NOT get direct sunlight. Sunlight will fade any artwork, and cause unstable temperature changes that will damage the work itself. Art prefers moderate temperatures and humidity levels just as we do. Use a Goldilocks approach, not too humid or dry, not too warm or cold. Restoration services are expensive, so “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” certainly applies here.

If you have kiddos around regularly, keep artwork at an adult height on the walls. Anything that can prevent a little one from being hurt trying to yank a framed piece or painting off the wall is worth doing. Yikes, that gave me shivers just thinking about it!

Sculpture and 3D Art

These will normally be displayed on pedestals or anyplace you would like, just keep in mind the safety of kiddos. Sun usually doesn’t affect most materials that 3D works are made of. Glass pieces should be kept from sudden temperature changes though as a quick shift from cold to heat will make glass crack. The same goes for pottery. When you receive a fine glass piece either through a carrier or bring it home from the place of purchase, don’t unpack it right away. Give it about an hour to adjust to the indoor temperature, then unpack it.

Use a very soft, dry, clean brush (cosmetic ones work great!) to gently dust any 3D artwork. That should be all it needs. 

Spring is just around the corner. Get some rest, the busy festival season is gearing up!

Purple crocuses in snowA signature on a white background.

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