We just framed this painting of San Francisco de Asis Mission Church in Taos, New Mexico by Robert Daughters (1929-2013). We set the 15″ x 15″ “Taos Church” (n.d.) in a 3″ compound mitered frame with carved flutes cut across the grain on the cushion-shaped cap molding and the gilded liner. The 2″ intermediate molding is an (uncarved) low cushion. Sam finished the walnut frame with linseed oil and wax.
The idea was, in part, for the flutes to echo the brush strokes. (One online bio of Daughters cites, not surprisingly, Van Gogh as an influence.) But the way Trevor Davis expertly carved the flutes to turn the corners of the moldings also gives it a pleasing radiating effect suggestive of the Southwest’s desert sun.
The frame seems to me especially successful, too, because of the symmetry of the composition and the way it’s ordered around a definite, if subtle, center point. Speaking about his work, Daughters once said, “The composition always comes first. I like to have an important visual point; sometimes it’s a structure, and sometimes it might be a color.” In “Taos Church,” that visual point is, appropriately enough, a cross. A lesser artist would have been tempted to overplay the focal point. But in Daughters’s hands, the blue cross almost disappears into its blue background, while the artist lets the painting’s composition do the work of focusing our eyes on that point. Such complementarity and interdependence of the parts and the whole reflects a masterful understanding of composition. I’m pleased with how the frame serves this strategy.
For more frame designs with cross-grain flutes, see next post…