Friday, November 5, 2010

About the Materials of Art

Last week a reader left this question for me: "If you create a work like this on paper, why do you then mount it on canvas (rather than some kind of board)? Or: if you mount paper on canvas and then create the artwork, why do you bother with the paper?"

The answer is that I like to work with paper and do not like canvas. Paper is responsive, it lends its character to the mediums applied to it. I find canvas inert and devoid of personality. But adhering the finished work on paper to canvas makes the final version more durable and gives the flimsy papers I prefer to use a certain dignity and presence. I work mostly in collage fashion and need a support on which I can assemble the separate elements. For small works I use some non-flexible paper boards or masonite type surfaces. But larger works are best rolled for shipping to galleries or to the consultants who sell for me. They can then be stretched and framed without glass or plexiglass as the finished work has a strong acrylic surface that does not need cover. In short, the reasons are both aesthetic and practical.

Once, at a gallery reception, the director called me over to meet a couple who had just purchased a large painting. As we chatted, the lady who was staring at the painting, gasped and asked: “What’s that?” In the seconds that it took for me to locate the source of her horror, I had nightmarish visions of the many ways a painting could self-destruct. What I saw was a hair from a paintbrush embedded in the paint, which I quickly explained and the lady was greatly relieved. Let me tell you, I do everything in my power to avoid the embarrassment of learning that a work of mine has failed to pass the test of time. I would have betrayed the gallery that sold it, the collector who bought it, and most of all, myself.

The image above was made from the same group of works made in the seventies using inks of fugitive color described in About Memory. It is History-019, ©1976-2010 giclĂ©e print, size varies. For information or to purchase any of the images on this site, please email Joan.


  1. love this, it's wonderful to have instant access to viewing your work!

  2. Thanks, Rachel. I enjoy following you, too, at I enjoy writing this blog also. It forces me to use my brain in a way that is different from painting, a good workout. Happy Holidays to you and Stock.