Keep the Beast Happy: Framing Milivoj Ćeran’s “Jormungandr”

It’s hard to think of another realm today where human beings unleash our imaginations more than we do in science fiction. The Studio recently had the great privilege of framing a painting born of the extraordinary imagination of Croatian artist Milivoj Ćeran, 2018 winner of the European Science Fiction Society‘s Best Artist Award. Known as an illustrator for the massively popular trading card game, Magic: The Gathering, Ćeran is also the creator of “The Norse Mythology Art Book,” for which he painted “Jormungandr.” The story is that Jormungandr is a deep sea serpent who grew so large that he circled the globe and was able to bite his own tail.

M Ceran painting, Jormungandr

Milivoj Ćeran, “Jormungandr,” acrylic and airbrush on paper, 15″ x 23-1/2″.

Frame detail for M Ceran painting, JormungandrSuch a work of imagination pushed my own creativity. I got a good nudge from the frame actually depicted in the painting: the decorative brass border around a ship’s porthole. (A picture is a window; sometimes it’s a porthole.) From that I came up with the carved 1″ wide bronze powder-rubbed liner. Attempting Ćeran’s masterful knot work would have been foolhardy, and too busy in any case. But a simplified pattern, a serpentine band quietly winding all the way around to resonate with the picture’s subject, felt right.The carving is flat rather than in relief, the pattern simply outlined with a v-shaped carving tool (v-tool) and the background stippled.

The main frame is a 2-1/2″ plain flat profile, but with corners articulated and decorated with a new way of using proud splines: instead of being proud all the way around the corner, the splines are partially recessed. The curves repeat those of the water line, while the slight flair and double points at the corners are echoed and amplified by the splines, the resulting composition of points playing off the spiny monster.

The whole frame is stained quartersawn white oak.

The customer and artist were both pleased. (“The frame is absolutely stunning!,” Mr. Ćeran wrote on a Facebook post with a photo of the piece.) But the crucial thing was to give the great serpent a distinguished, honorific setting that will keep the beast happy. Because, as the story has it, if Jormungandr lets go of his tail, that’s when Ragnarök happens. We can only imagine.

Picture Framing Magazine featured this piece as the Design of the Month in April 2023. More…

Frame detail for M Ceran painting, Jormungandr


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