Framing Bill Cone and “Beloved California”

Our annual all-gallery show, “Beloved California,” opens in two weeks, and we’re down to the last few frames. So I thought I’d put up a few posts talking about the framing. We’ve been exploring some new directions, and this show offered the opportunity to apply some of that work to pictures by some premiere contemporary talents. I’m starting with the work we’re using on our postcard and other publicity, a High Sierra scene called “Chickenfoot Inlet” by nationally renowned pastel painter and Pixar Animation Studio artist, Bill Cone.

Bill Cone, “Chickenfoot Inlet,” 16″ x 14,” pastel. $3300.


I was immediately taken by the image of the piece when Bill first it emailed to me, and replied expressing my enthusiasm. “Glad you like it,” he wrote back. “It’s a studio piece based on a small study I did from a trip to the Rock Creek basin in 2017… What the piece is (partly) about is the celebration of reflected light in shadow on the shards of rocks. Many are very close in value, and differ only in their color temperature. Its an alluring visual phenomenon, and one of the reasons I really like painting in the Sierra.”

Bill Cone pastel

Bill Cone, “Inlet Wall,” 2010. 11″ x 12 7/8″, pastel on Canson Paper. Framed in 3” carved custom compound mitered frame in stained walnut with pale gold slip.

Bill’s fascination with rocks—or more accurately the light on rocks—immediately brought to mind this piece of his, “Inlet Wall,” we showed at the gallery a number of years ago. The faceted shapes of granite boulders lends itself to simple faceted forms in the frame and simple carving. Such rocks are often described as “chiseled”—an obvious cue to the frame-maker. I’d just been playing with a similar chiseled technique but involving outset corners, so was excited to have the opportunity to try it out on this new piece. The corners bump out just 1/8″—a subtle touch (subtlety is generally a virtue in framing) which, carefully accented, remains subtle but adds dimension and interest. In this case it also adds facets amplifying the granite motif.

Apart from the way it echoes the rocks, I like how the outset corners sustain and amplify the radiating quality of the picture, celebrating the play of sunlight in this scene that captivated the painter.

The 3” frame is walnut with a clear finish (oiled and waxed), and has a liner with pale gold leaf.

Come see it in person! “Beloved California III: Seventeen Painters with a Passion for Place” opens November 10 with a reception for the artists from 4 to 6. The show runs through December 29. See more paintings on the show’s webpage, here.


Here’s a corner detail and a shot of the frame being made.

Below are more of Bill’s works we’ve had or have (“Josephine Creek” is available) that feature rocks. Note that for “Josephine Creek,” the frame is neither carved nor faceted, but rounded in keeping with the more rounded rocks as well as softer light.

« Back to Blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *