Hanging Art with Ephraim

When the wall is bare, and you have lovely and thought provoking  art. Why not hang your lovely and thought provoking art piece in this bare wall space?

This WAS the bare wall.


The following post is about my friend Ephraim McNair hanging lovely and though provoking art.

Ephraim is a graphic and collage artist who worked in a gallery for a stint. He worked in the exhibitions offices of University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR), and his alma mater, Western Michigan University. At UALR he enjoyed helping Nathan Larson manage and install pieces from the permanent collection in offices across campus. At Western, his favorite job was lighting exhibits from 30′ up on the air on the scissor lift.

We met through his wife Marita, whom I worked with at UALR. He initially hung the lovely and thought provoking art piece  “Orthodoxy” by artist Curt Bozif, in our home office.


“Orthodoxy” by Curt Bozif

This was when my art studio took over the entire front room.


Once we moved my studio, we wanted to move  “Orthodoxy” as well – so it wouldn’t get any paint splatters on it. Ephraim so graciously worked with us again – by hanging “Orthodoxy” as well as wrote for Paper Opera about this experience. The following is by Ephraim McNair:

Art hanging, June 1, 2014

The piece of art is 48″ tall x 96″ wide x 4“ deep canvas on masonite. It is solidly built, with vertical bracing on the back reinforcing the masonite, and perimeter framing to which the canvas is attached.

There are many ways this piece could be hung but the artist did not attach any wires or D rings to the back. Instead of installing our own, we took advantage of the structural soundness of the piece and hung it on some vertical rails mounted to the wall.


I brought a pretty basic tool box with me for the installation. Here is what we ended up using:
Drill bits
3″ drywall screws
Power drill with 2-headed apex (a phillips and slotted head on the same bit, these are super useful)
Tape measure
36″ Level
Stud finder
Masking tape

The first thing to do was determine position. We knew it should go behind the couch but how high above it? Micah took a seat and we measured a comfortable distance above his head from the floor. To that measurement we added the height of the painting, extended the tape measure and held it against the wall.

Waaay too high. From the ceiling there was only a few inches to where the top of the painting would be. While it made room to sit on the couch comfortably, the resulting proportion above and below the piece would have been rather unbalanced. Instead we opted to set the piece about level with the top of the piano and put enough room between the couch and art so sitters wouldn’t feel like they should lean their head on the painting.

There was a good deal more measuring that went on which informed the final decision but I won’t bore you with the details. Personally, I rather enjoy examining a space numerically before working it and discovering spatial relationships.

Once we knew where we wanted the painting, I got out the stud finder and ran some masking tape along the width of the area where the painting would end up. The tape provides a surface for the stud finder to run on without marring the paint as well as a medium for marking the location of found studs.

After we found the studs, we prepared the rails for installation. Micah drilled pilot holes several inches from both ends and drilled in the screws so that the points of each were just poking through. The rails are 1-by-2’s and in order to maximize support for the depth of the painting, we put the screws in so the 2″ length would be perpendicular to the wall. Then we marked one L(eft), the other R(ight) and indicated which end we intended to use as the top.

Once the rails were prepped we marked the location of the top of the rails on the wall at our chosen support studs. This is the most important step in regards to the levelness of the painting; “Measure once cut twice” definitely applies here.

Calculating the location of the top of the rails was very straightforward. We simply measured the height of the (p)iano, added to that the (h)eight of the painting and then removed 1″ from the total for the width of the wood forming the painting’s structure. This can be expressed with the equation p + h – 1″ = measure for top of rail.

L.K. and Micah’s carpet is the comfortable squishy residential kind so I measured from the top of the toe board, which wasn’t that high, to eliminate any variance in rug density. On the wall, I penciled a T with the top bar at the measure, and, after re-measuring both marks, asked for the level.

Holding the level and the rail together, we put the top of the rail at the top of the T and plumbed the rail before pushing the screw points into the the wall. We circled the resulting marks and drilled pilot holes at those points.

At one of the marks the drill went right into the wall with no resistance after the first quarter inch of drywall. A clear indication that we had missed the stud! We checked the stud position and adjusted our rail, re-measured and re-marked its top, plumbed it and then tried again. Resistance all the way through! We had hit the stud.

With the pilot holes drilled, we screwed the rails to the wall,  lifted the painting into place and stepped back to admire our handiwork. Since we were confident in the position of our rails we didn’t even bother checking that the painting was level.

With the painting up, the finishing touches revolved around organizing the room and justifying it to established focal points and the wonderful painting which had finally found its home.


“It makes a certain kind of sense to put the largest painting in ones collection in the largest room of the house,” Micah said.


One thought on “Hanging Art with Ephraim

  1. Pingback: Hanging Art with Kelsey | Paper Opera

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