Having just moved into a new apartment, I thought I would share how I created my gallery wall and how I hung some artwork on a concrete wall. I’ve got a mix of art from paintings, drawings, needlework, prints, and photos. I was told by my building supervisor that they could come in and drill some holes in the concrete wall if needed, but I was determined to figure out a way to hang my artwork by myself. I’m stubborn like that sometimes, and as my pain is unpredictable I didn’t really want to make an appointment for him to come help me. So I’ve made a video below showing some of what I’ve done, as well as included some photos and tips in this blog post.
Hanging art on concrete
The first thing I did was I bought some 3M command hooks (the kind that are removable and don’t damage walls or surfaces). I knew that they would be strong enough to hold the larger paintings that I wanted to display on the concrete wall. All of the paintings that were going to be hung on that wall were actually all done on black builders paper. That stuff is great, you can buy it in big rolls and cut off as much as you need. It’s a really cheap way to create art, the only thing you need to do if using oil paints is to seal it with a layer of acrylic paint first. I also really like drawing and painting on black paper because then you don’t get the awful “white page syndrome” that hits many artists. Once I had bought the hooks, I connected bulldog clips to each upper corner of the paintings and drawing and measured out where exactly each hook was going to go. I actually made a little card that was 6 inches long and 4 inches high out of some scrap cardboard, this is what I used to measure the distance between the top of the wall and the top of hook (4″) as well as the distance between the paintings (6″). It was easier to use this little piece of card than it was to try to measure accurately while standing on a stepstool. Reaching up is really no fun for me at all.
As I show in the video below, it’s possible to unhook one arm of the bulldog clips once they are attached to the painting. You just squeeze the little metal arms together and they will pop out of the main holder. I did that for the front facing arm of the bulldog clips so that they didn’t detract from the painting itself, and I hooked the rear facing arm over the command hook. I also painted the command hooks themselves with some spare paint that matches the wall colour. That way they blend in as much as possible.
Hanging art on drywall
As for creating the gallery wall, there are many different ways to do this but the way I chose to do it was to lay everything on the floor to choose how I wanted to layout the artwork. I measured the length and height of the wall space that I wanted to use, and that I measured the same size on the floor. I then took the paintings and drawings that I wanted to hang and started arranging them almost like a jigsaw puzzle on the floor. I tried to keep some symmetry – I have two charcoal and chalk drawings that are in poster frames that are at each end of the gallery wall, and I have several smaller framed pieces that are all in the same frames. I chose to put those smaller pieces together around a central chalk pastel drawing, and I tried to balance the colours of the art when choosing where to put each frame. All in all it took two days to hang everything the way that I wanted (mostly because it hurt me to have my arms over my head so I couldn’t work for too long each day). I played around with the layout for quite a while on the floor (and a bit while most pieces were hung) to make sure I’d be happy with the final layout.
How I hung each piece on the gallery wall depended on the painting that I was hanging. The pieces on unframed paper I simply used sticky tack to hang them (you can see a picture of the package in the video). A few pieces I was able to use plastic thumbtacks to hang them as they aren’t very heavy. A few other pieces, like those small central framed pieces, I used straight pins instead of nails. I didn’t want to put big holes in the wall if I didn’t need to, and those particular frames didn’t work with thumbtacks due to the way the hanger is situated on the back of them. In the photographs you can see I’ve made a pilot hole using a thumbtack and then used a lightweight hammer to get the straight pins into the wall. I was careful not to bend them as I was hammering them in. I used quite long pins and I used two at a time. In this way, the frames are supported as they are very light but I’m not making big holes in the walls. Obviously I would test this and make sure that anything you’re hanging is going to be very well supported. A few pictures were heavy enough to require actual picture hooks to be hammered into the wall. That includes my newly finished and framed Michelangelo cross stitch piece I’ve been working on for the last nine months – the glass is quite heavy so I didn’t want to risk it smashing if it fell.
Some tips for creating a gallery wall:
- Measure the area that you’re going to be hanging your pieces, and try to mark out the same size area on the floor if you can
- If you can, try to balance out your various artworks in colour, size, and framing style
- Make sure to measure in order to find the centre and get your nails or picture hangers in the exact right position
- Use bits of coloured tape to mark things like the height at which you want to hang something, or use scrap bits of cardboard to get consistent distances between hung objects
- Use consistent or similar framing if possible – it helps to create a coherent look to your gallery wall
- Don’t be afraid to make changes as needed
- Depending on the style of your home and of the gallery are trying to create, hang as few or as many pieces as you like
So that’s it for now! If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to let me know below and I will do my best to help you out. Happy hanging!