Framing Karima Cammell’s Egg Tempera Paintings—I

This is the first of three posts showing three egg tempera portrait paintings we just framed for a neighbor, Karima Cammell. Don’t know how she finds time to paint, but Karima is the owner of one of my favorite shops in Berkeley, Castle In the Air, on Fourth Street. She’s taken on the difficult art of egg tempera painting, which means mixing her own colors. That’s impressive in itself, but because the paints don’t keep, she has to mix them anew for each painting session.

Karima Cammell, “Self-Portrait as an Egg Tempera Painter,” 2016. Egg tempura on panel, 8″ x 10″.

These were so much fun to frame because of the imagery’s embrace of architecture and the decorative arts—the realm of the picture frame. In this one, a self-portrait (thought we’d start by introducing the artist herself), the figure is standing next to a wooden post. This architectural element became the most obvious cue for the architecture of the frame. Thus, we went with a mortise-and-tenon design, our No. 1000 “Basic Aurora”, in a 1-3/4″ wide profile. (Notice in the angled view below the flush through-tenons, which add to the architectural feel of the frame.) But at the same time, the painting’s fine rendering called for a more refined form in the frame, so we chose a mitered liner in our No. 508—7/8″, an ogee shape—always a good choice for tightly rendered figurative pictures. (Total profile width is 2-1/2″.) The fine bead on its sight edge works with the fine detail in the painting. Walnut was the obvious choice for color and suitable degree of refinement. We stained it to harmonize with the background shadows, so that the frame would be a shadow tone effectively spotlighting the painting. A 1/8″ gilt slip provides emphasis and definition to the picture. I’m pleased with how the frame answers the problem of balancing these two complementary elements—the harder and architectural, on the one hand, and the softer, figurative and decorative on the other.

The carved inscription on the post, by the way, is, “You possess only what will not be lost in a shipwreck—El Ghazali.”

Trevor Davis made the frame—and did a beautiful job for a beautiful painting!


Read about the second of the three Karima Cammell paintings we framed…





Read about the third of the three Karima Cammell paintings we framed…

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