Using the Brown Paper Method
Hanging images in straight lines is relatively simple, using a laser level and low tack tape to mark the height of the fixings. But how do you arrange pictures on the wall of all the different sizes?
I like to use the brown paper method.
The brown paper method for hanging pictures
Measure the wall space where you want the arrangement to hang.
Make a template the same size using brown paper or a large sheet of cardboard. Lay out your frames on the brown paper on the floor and move them around to create a balanced composition.
Look for colours, subjects, or frame sizes that align. They don’t all have to be the same spacing or style, but even having the same style frames can tie them together.
Draw around the frames; I’m using a white chalk marker from Chakola.
Match your hanging system to the area
Different frames will have other hanging systems. Two ‘D’ rings usually have a cord between them, but you can hang them from a single point for smaller pieces. It will be more liable to swing and move, depending on whether it’s a high-traffic area or out of the way. For more secure fixings, I’ll use mirror plates and paint them the same colour as the wall.
Double-check the distance of the hanging from the top of the frame to the fixing. Sometimes there are slightly different positions.
Mark the central position on the brown paper or where the D ring is.
Make a hole through your paper with a sharp point. I’m using a long pencil called a Tracer which is handy for marking when hanging mirror plates.
Tape the guide to the wall
Tape the sheet of brown paper on the wall; I’m using low tack tape, so it doesn’t pull on the paintwork. Mark all of the holes with a pencil. You can move the guide around to check how the composition is looking before committing to drilling any holes.
Tools needed for hanging pictures
For these fixings, I will be drilling and using wall plugs on the plasterboard.
I love these Duopower from Fischer. These wall plugs can be used on solid walls or plasterboard – my go-to fixing.
When tapping the fixing flush to the wall, tap gently because if you tap too hard, it can pop out the plaster around the drywall fixings (not speaking from experience)
If you’re hanging a corded picture, you could also use something like these – from 3M. Less wall damage, easy installation and are removable, just more cost per unit in comparison to wall plugs.
To get super precise, you can use a laser level. You can now get affordable laser levels (green laser is easier to read than red) for under £50. They can be great for hanging pictures, aligning still lives, painting sight-size etc.
Add a screw to the fixing and then hang your paintings. Stand back and admire your work, tweaking the levels with a pocket spirit level. Grab yourself a brew!
Here are where you can find the lessons shown in the arrangement:
A – Painting Winter Light in Cornwall (step-by-step acrylic lesson)
B – How to simplify a complicated landscape scene (step-by-step acrylic lesson)
C – Beginners oil step-by-step demo (step-by-step oil lesson)
D – How to paint a terracotta pot (free acrylic video tutorial)
E – One of the lessons from the Venice Light and Landscape Course
F – How to paint looser with Acrylics (free video tutorial)
G – Featured in ‘The Immersive Power of Painting (a Painting Truth you can Learn too Late)’ article
This Post Has 16 Comments
Great tip – thanks, Will.
Thanks so much for sharing this, Will! It’s genius, and timely for me – we just got a roomful of new furniture and want to do a gallery wall above the sofa. Cheers!
Oh, great timing Kathy, really hope it helps with your new furniture.
Thanks so much for your posts and emails Will. I enjoy them all. This morning I followed links that originated in this piece to three more posts, all delightful, uplifting and educational. And all while enjoying a lazy Sunday morning latte. ‘loved an older post about your visit to Cezanne’s studio!
So pleased you’ve been enjoying reading the articles Laura.
I do feel that your blog is an endless trove of treasures, Will. I also feel lucky. Best, Cecilia
Thanks very much Cecilia.
Thank you Will It is a great idea
Thanks Dorota, hope it helps when hanging your artworks.
Gorgeous paintings Will. Great Wall with style. Thanks for sharing. Did you frame these by yourself too?
Thanks Rita, pleased you liked the display.
This is so timely! I’m painting every wall room by room and was trying to figure out how to hang things without marking up my newly painted walls. So clever and easy. Thank you so much! I also love the links to all the lessons. The first room I painted was my studio space. I haven’t painted since my father passed a few years ago and am ready to renew my passion for painting as well as my piano lessons – so now my space is my art/music studio. It will be my retreat while I work on the rest of my house. Since I work full time and commute that will be slow going BUT forward is forward no matter the pace! I’m eager to have new paintings on my walls that are MY art! I’ve learned so many tips from you and look forward to starting with those acrylic lessons. So grateful for all the info and inspiration you provide.
That’s great to hear Cheri, really hope it helps when designing your new space.
Thanks so much. Such a clever idea. And I have a number of pictures waiting to be hung – several from your wonderful courses!
Great stuff Fiona, hope the hanging of your pieces goes well.